Brittany Ellison just wanted to visit the library in downtown Brunswick; she had not planned on meeting the man of her dreams.
But there sat Chris Lee on that hot August day last year, and her heart started doing the pitter-patters as soon as she laid eyes on him inside the Brunswick-Glynn County Library.
“I saw Chris when I first walked in and I was just like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’” she said. “I thought he was handsome — I thought he was the cutest guy on Earth.”
Likewise, her entrance hardly went unnoticed. Lee’s gaze followed her all the way to the Young Adult book section. “Oh, yeah, she caught my eye right off,” Lee said.
On Monday, the newlyweds sat inside The Well at 1101 Gloucester St. in Brunswick, recalling that fateful first meeting like it was yesterday. Ellison became Brittany Lee on Saturday, when she and Chris Lee exchanged vows during a wedding ceremony at The Well, a day center that provides assistance to the homeless.
Both Chris and Brittany struggle intellectually, and Brittany lives independently through assistance from Gateway Behavioral Health Services. Shortly after meeting at the library, the two gravitated toward The Well. They have become regulars at the center, where they have found assistance, friendship and purpose.
The Well is sponsored by FaithWorks, and provides shelter from the elements, as well as a place to rest, grab some food, do laundry and receive both spiritual and practical guidance from the staff there.
As executive director of FaithWorks and founder of The Well, the Rev. Wright Culpepper happily obliged when the two asked him to tie their knot.
“Somewhere along the way you have to trust that God is in the mix,” Culpepper said. “They obviously love each other, and they’re obviously happy together. As long as they stay connected to FaithWorks, our staff will be there to help them as a couple.”
The day after they met last year, a friend dared Chris and Brittany to kiss. Chris, 30, did not have to be dared twice. “He kissed me and that’s how it all started,” Brittany, 20, said of her husband.
They have been inseparable since. During the big shindig to celebrate The Well’s first anniversary on March 4, Chris turned the festivities up a notch when he dropped to one knee and asked for Brittany’s hand right there in front of everybody.
“They have just very desperately wanted to get married,” Culpepper said. “Both are just very very sweet people, and they have been engaged since March. They have been giddy to make this thing happen.”
Getting a marriage license grew troublesome, however, because neither had proper identification. That is where Janice Applegate stepped in. She is FaithWorks’ case manager for both Chris and Brittany. Obtaining proper identification is a vital service the staff provides to guests at The Well, Culpepper said. For those who can hold a job, identification is a must to even begin the application process.
“We do that all the time,” Culpepper said. “It’s a big obstacle to them, but for us, it’s an easy problem to fix.”
Chris grew up in Brunswick and getting all the info needed to obtain his ID came about fairly quickly. Brittany, on the other hand, is from Camden County and is also an adoptee. Obtaining her ID was a little more problematic. They had hoped to get married in June but did not have everything in place to obtain a marriage license until last week.
Culpepper has prior engagements this weekend, and the anxious couple could not see waiting until August to get hitched. So they settled on Saturday, becoming husband and wife in front of all their friends at The Well. Family members of both the bride and groom also attended.
“They’re a part of this community (at The Well),” Culpepper said. “They are loved by this community and are actively engaged in this community. Everybody has just been celebrating their love.”
The couple now live in the apartment provided to Brittany by Gateway. They dine at local soup kitchens and have food stamps. Both are seeking disability status.
On Monday, Brittany described the wedding as “beautiful.”
“Chris was crying the whole time,” she said, smiling at her husband.
“I couldn’t help it, honey,” Chris said.
With that, Brittany leaned over and hugged him.
“I love you,” she said.