2016-2017 Bride of the Year
In February 2014, Camry Garrison — then Camry Kelley — thought she had it all figured out. She’d just bought a house with her long-time boyfriend and was, as she puts it, “dead set” on marrying him.
But while Camry and her boyfriend had been dating since high school, she just couldn’t shake something her mom had once said.
“My mom gave me a good piece of advice,” Camry, a 26-year-old preacher’s daughter and Liberty University graduate, said. “I thought that God wouldn’t put someone in my life unless they were the one, and Mom sat down with me and said, ‘That’s so wrong. God gives you the choice. You can choose to take the path that he wants, not your own.’”
Camry, admittedly stubborn, said it took a while for her mom’s advice to sink in, but eventually, it did. “One day,” she said, “I literally got down on my knees and said, ‘God, if you want me to be with this guy, make it so clear. If not, make it so clear that my heart hurts.’”
They broke up the next day, albeit amicably.
“We were so at peace with it, so friendly toward the situation,” Camry said.
“We just bought a house, on the verge of making the big step. We both sat down and had nothing but love and respect. We both agreed that’s not where life is going to take us. We’re still good friends.”
The following day, Camry got a text from an acquaintance named Jordan Garrison: “You were on my mind yesterday. Want to talk on the way home from work?”
Camry and Jordan had met on MySpace in 2005, while both were in high school in neighboring North Carolina counties. They had mutual friends, texted each other every so often, and had what Camry describes as a “really good friendship.”
For Camry, there was nothing romantic about it. Besides, she’d just broken up with her boyfriend and planned to be single for a while.
What she didn’t know was that Jordan had different plans.
“He actually told his grandpa in high school he was going to marry me,” Camry said. “He never told me that. He kept hope throughout the years.”
As Camry and Jordan talked over the next few months, her feelings began to change. They started dating in January 2015.
“It clicked for me,” she said. “I called my mom and said, ‘I think that I was wrong. I hate to admit it, but you were right.’ She loved hearing that.”
As boyfriend and girlfriend, Camry said they did “simple things” together, like her parents, married for 32 years, have done. “I always look to my parents and their relationship being a good testimony that love is really earthly and love will fade,” she said. “It’ll eventually be something you have to try to work for.
“My parents don’t go on dates. They go to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and get samples. You know you love someone when you can do the little things in life and not really focus on these huge, romantic dates.
“When we first got together, we went to Sam’s Club and got samples. He thought it was really strange and I said, ‘Well, this is what you do when you’re young and married.’”
Jordan proposed in October of 2015. It was a complete surprise to Camry.
They were visiting Camry’s parents in Lynchburg — the couple lives in Reidsville, N.C. — and romantic Jordan planned to propose at the top of the Peaks of Otter. When he asked Camry if she’d like to take a hike, however, she said, “I’m tired.”
“Oh, well, do you want go to the park?” he countered.
“No, I’m exhausted,” she said.
Finally, Camry agreed to get coffee downtown. So, they got coffee, visited some antique shops and walked up Monument Terrace. At the top, Jordan got down on one knee. “He’s a really romantic type and I’m a really realistic type,” Camry said. “He had this romantic speech and all I could get out of my mouth was, ‘Absolutely not!’”
Realizing she’d hurt his feelings, Camry tried to explain.
“No, I’m just caught off guard,” she said, adding that “of course” she’d marry him.
Camry and Jordan got married on March 19, 2016, at Old Pate Chapel in Lynchburg. Her dad, pastor of Timber Ridge Baptist Church in Bedford, performed the ceremony. Her mom made most of the decorations.
As one might expect, things didn’t go completely as planned. Someone forgot the cake stand and the sash for Camry’s wedding dress. Then there was the niece who insisted on driving her Barbie Mustang down the aisle and had to be persuaded to carry a balloon instead.
In the end, Camry said, those are the things she’ll remember. “Imperfections make the perfect day,” she said, adding that “no disaster could be big enough, as long as the family made it.”
The day after the wedding, she and Jordan left on a honeymoon cruise. It was then that another imperfection — an important medication forgotten at home — led to perhaps the best wedding gift of all: a baby boy, due in mid-December.
“We call it our souvenir from traveling,” Camry said.
Camry, who hadn’t planned to start a family immediately, admits she spent some time “bawling and crying” over the news, but Jordan was optimistic, saying, “It’s OK, it’s God’s will.”
She said Jordan was her “ultimate rock” during a first trimester that included plenty of morning sickness, and while it wasn’t the honeymoon phase she imagined, it was good for them.
“Since we got pregnant, we’ve learned a lot about each other,” Camry said. “You’re not very comfortable being around your husband as newlyweds. Now, I’m throwing up and he has to hold back my hair. …
“Not that I would recommend getting pregnant as soon as you get married, but it’s been a huge blessing because we’ve learned to ultimately rely on each other. Instead of being newlyweds, we’ve gotten thrown into life.”