Months before it was common knowledge that Greenville was in line for the Aug. 21 total eclipse, Atlanta resident Jim Cross not only knew about it, but had a plan to commemorate it here in a unique way.
“Will you marry me on Aug. 21, 2017, in Greenville, South Carolina?” he asked his girlfriend, Michelle Heaton, in December 2015 from a dinner cruise microphone “for maximum embarrassment.”
“I thought, ‘That’s really specific,’” Heaton says. But she said yes anyways and asked questions later.
Cross, a self-described amateur cosmologist, had been tracking the impending eclipse along with the scientific community and had discovered Greenville would be a location for 100 percent totality. Experiencing that total darkness was on his bucket list, and Greenville, where he often travels for work, wasn’t too far away. And since he describes meeting his future bride as “the heavens aligning,” this celestial occurrence seemed a perfect backdrop for their wedding.
Heaton was then tasked with planning her wedding in a city she’d never visited and on a date she didn’t choose. That’s not exactly a dream scenario for a bride, but she thought the whole idea was interesting and definitely worth the hassle.
They chose the rooftop of the Loft at Soby’s. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. and conclude at the exact moment of totality, 2:38 p.m., with a champagne toast while they and their 15 guests are wearing eclipse glasses.
The couple says the most difficult part of the whole process proved to be explaining to their vendors 18 months in advance the sheer number of people that would be descending on the Upstate and what that could mean for their guests and staff members trying to get to the event.
“No one had any interest,” Heaton says.
Those conversations eventually changed, she says, as Greenville became a widely marketed destination for viewing the eclipse. Now she’s thankful they reserved their venue and guest hotel rooms so far in advance, as all Greenville hotels are completely booked.
Cross says all the hectic planning will be worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
“I like to joke it’s another chance to have her say ‘yes’ in the dark,” Cross says.