The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 28, 2011

Wedding becomes symbol of hope following tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. — After seven years of dating, Aaron Cox and Brooke Watson tied the knot Saturday. About 100 people attended the ceremony at First United Methodist Church in Joplin, which offered one of few bright spots in the week following the May 22 tornado.

But the decision to hold the wedding did not come lightly.

Click here to see video.

Cox and Watson, both originally of Joplin, said they had family members who lost homes in the storm. And if that wasn’t enough, the shop that worked on Watson’s wedding dress took a direct hit and nearly everything was lost.

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began using part of the church building during the emergency.

“We are a very fortunate family for only losing material things,” Watson said. “So it makes it all the more special that people are supporting us and encouraging us to go ahead with this.”

“We were obviously a little hesitant at first — we didn’t know what to do,” Cox said. “But a lot of people who lost everything — people at the church, our friends, our family — those were the people who were pushing us to go ahead and do it. And we were like, ‘Well, if they’re on board, we might as well stay on track.’”       

Paul Sims, minister for the ceremony, said he was honored to be a part of their day.

“I thought it was just a great day,” Sims said. “After what the city has been through, their families have been through, and a lot of people, I think this was just a bright day in the midst of a tragic week, but it will certainly be memorable for them. So I’m just real happy for them and there are just so many people here with them to join in celebration.”

During the ceremony, Sims testified “that their love for another (will) be known across the world” following media attention the couple drew from outlets ranging from CBS to the London Daily Mail.

Watson and Cox were at Cox’s parents’ house when the tornado hit on May 22 and didn’t realize the extent of the damage until they began driving around to find Cox’s sister. After finding she was safe, the couple also discovered that Watson’s wedding dress was about the only thing that survived in an otherwise decimated alteration shop.

Cox and Watson taped their search for Cox’s sister, and he can be been carrying his future’s wife’s wedding dress soon after the storm.

The couple said they were both grateful that the wedding did not have to be postponed, and that FEMA’s plans didn’t keep them from using part of the church.

“I think planning a wedding is stressful for anybody, so I just feel like we were so fortunate to not have to change the church or change the reception hall, and to have all of our family here and for everybody to be really supportive,” Watson said. “I think that even if things had had to change, everyone has been super great about being accommodating and understanding.”

Friends of the couple supported their decision to marry at this time.

“It has been extremely hectic, it has been crazy,” said George Datum, an usher. “But thankfully, it all came together and they’re here, and that’s all that matters.”

Future plans

Brooke Watson just graduated from respiratory therapy school and has a few months of clinicals before she moves to be with Aaron Cox in Idaho, where he works for a minor league baseball team, the Idaho Falls Chuckers.

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