All marriages can be stormy at times, but usually the troubles don’t start until after the honeymoon.
But Lily Hannigan, a Catholic from Flushing, and Troy Hobson faced a tempest right at the start. They got married on July 12 in New Orleans while Category 1 Hurricane Barry was raging outside.
“Our joke was someone upstairs does not want this to happen, because they’re throwing all these catastrophes our way,” Hannigan, the bride, told The Tablet.
Lily went to all Catholic schools growing up. She graduated from St. Mel’s Academy, Flushing; St. Agnes Academic H.S., College Point; and Fordham University, the Bronx, where she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, an organization of lay volunteeers, who typically spend a year or two doing community service in a low-income area.
In 2013, Lily moved from New York to Louisiana to work with Project Lazarus, a nonprofit that works with the Archdiocese of New Orleans to help provide transitional housing to the homeless and people with HIV/AIDS.
She and Troy met at a Mardi Gras parade that year, and got engaged in the summer of 2018.
Fast forward to the week leading up to their wedding.
“The first time we realized it could be bad was Wednesday morning — the wedding was Saturday, people were flying in, and there was a freak rainstorm that day: 9 inches in three hours,” Hannigan said. “Our neighborhood completely flooded. I was getting calls from family members flying in, and I couldn’t even get home.”
The rainstorm was only a preview of what was to come, the couple recalled, and news reports of the bad weather caused them to warn traveling family members that they should be flexible.
“I kept thinking — what would I do in that situation? I don’t know if I would have been as strong as her or as pragmatic,” said Lily’s sister, Meg. “And we were there to support her through whatever it is. Everyone was praying for [Troy and Lilly] from everywhere … If they can get through this, they can get through anything.”
Hannigan and Hobson were able to move their Catholic wedding nuptials up from Saturday (July 13) to Friday afternoon at Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, the International Shrine of St. Jude, which is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
“The homily was really beautiful and appropriate … all about weathering storms together, and the rain coming down as blessings,” Meg said.
About 40 people attended the wedding.
“The first thing that we did was [to] make sure we got the ceremony in, no matter what,” Hannigan said. “We were reassuring our families that it wouldn’t be a disaster.”
The couple’s “cane-do” attitude helped.
“We just rolled with the punches all weekend,” Hobson said. “Every time catastrophe struck, it was just like, all right, we’ll deal with it. I’m proud of how calm [Lily] was in the face of all this.”
The couple also rescheduled their reception to the next day, when Hurricane Barry was the strongest.
“At noon, I had, like, a venue coordinator at the space and she called me and she goes, ‘did you hear the news,’ — which is a very ominous way to start a phone call,” Hobson said.
A city curfew forced them to move up their wedding reception to the afternoon, and they were especially grateful for the flexibility of all their vendors — from the caterers and band, to hair-and-makeup, and a last-minute piano player.
The couple was blessed by cooler weather light rain that Saturday afternoon–the hurricane barely touched the coast. They were even able to have a traditional New Orleans second line parade, complete with a brass brand, cheering and waving through the streets.
Relying on their faith and community kept both in good spirits, despite the forecast.
“Our Lady of Prompt Succor is the Patron Saint of preventing hurricanes,” Hannigan said. “So, everyone was on board with some prayer intercessions, and she came through for us.”
Lily and Troy, who just returned from a much more peaceful honeymoon in Italy, will have a second wedding reception in Columbus, Ohio, where Troy’s family is from.