HAMLET — How did you and you spouse leave your wedding? In a classic car with tin cans hanging off the back? Waving to your friends and family from the sunroof of a limo? How about in a helicopter?
No? Then you aren’t Kinji and Monica Williams of Rockingham who made an “epic” exit from their Cole Auditorium wedding on Saturday. Williams wanted to surprise his new bride, who had surprised him with a helicopter ride at the beach last summer — his first time flying ever.
“I love to try to keep her on edge,” he said. “Anything that can come to mind that she hasn’t experienced I want to make it happen.”
But there was a hitch in the plan: a security guard excitedly asked Monica, “So y’all got the helicopter?” as she was walking into the venue — but they didn’t let that stop the good time.
“It won’t really hit her until it lands,” Williams said.
Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, Williams moved up to Rockingham 17 years ago to join family. He and Monica met three years ago working for the Department of Public Safety as corrections officers of the same rank.
“That’s my best friend right there,” Williams said pointing to his wife. “We started as friends — two Geminis — the love and chemistry we share is so awesome. It’s like a fairy tale.”
When asked to describe her emotions as the reception came to a close, Monica, wearing distressed white jeans and a white T-shirt reading “Bride” on the back — matching her husband’s — said, “Energy. Love. Excitement.”
“It’s the best day of my life,” she added.
Their first dance was to “Permission” by Ro James. The new couple will spend their honeymoon in Jamaica.
The surprise was a well-kept secret among the tight-knit 150 or so attendees, according to Angela McDonald, the matron of honor, who said it was strictly on a “need-to-know basis” (which included the security guards). McDonald, of Hamlet, said she and Monica have been best friends for 18 years.
“(The ceremony) was beautiful,” McDonald said. “They’ll be very happy together.”
When wedding planner Jesuite Ellerbe heard that Kinji wanted to make a “grand exit” she said her first reaction was: “What?”
“I’ve never seen a wedding like this before,” said Ellerbe, owner of Jesuite’s Creations.
Williams’ step-brother Kenny Woods drove down from Durham to see his brother get married. Woods got an inkling of his brother’s plans prior to the wedding, and anticipation was weighing on him in the mid-day heat.
“I drove two hours for baby boy,” Woods said referring to his younger sibling. “He calls me, I come no matter what.”
While Ellerbe texted the pilot, Dan Miller with Charlotte Helicopters, about his whereabouts, Woods joked that he was getting away with “texting and flying.”
“Who’s gonna pull him over? What’s he gonna hit?” he asked.
The helicopter landed in the Cole Auditorium parking lot as the sun was beginning to set.
“This is how we do it for the love of my life!” Williams shouted to the crowd. He and Monica walked a red carpet to meet Miller as their friends and family waved them goodbye.
“As long as you’re working together, y’all can do anything,” Williams said of his relationship philosophy. “God’s got to be in the middle of it or it won’t work.”
The chopper flew to the far side of the parking lot to make a long pass by the onlookers before heading West for Charlotte.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]