The Time I Accidentally Married My Cousin

Late September is always an exciting time -- College Football season is upon us, the weather is getting crisp, it's shrimp baiting season, inshore fishing is still good and our anniversary rolls around.  It's hands down my favorite time of the year!   And rather than shmooze on about love and marriage and how happy Scottery makes me, I'd rather tell him that, and instead entertain you with a story of how truly small South Carolina can be...and the time I accidentally married my cousin.  Or more accurately, The Time I Accidentally Found Out I Was Engaged To My Cousin And Then Married Him Anyway.  Laugh all you like, this story is 100% true.

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In trying to condense this, a quick background:  Scottery and I dated for years before he popped the question, and our story before that weaves in and out throughout life, as we grew up half a mile away from each other as the crow flies.  There are stories of our moms talking at the grocery store all the time, with Scottery as a toddler and me as a baby in the cart.  Even though we went to all the same schools and knew of  each other, we never actually knew each other (he's a bit older) before college.  So after almost 5 years together, we had had plenty of time to further get to know our families, and our families' families...and in my case, my families' families' families. 


It was about 2 months before our wedding that I dragged Scottery along to a family reunion for one side of my family tree.  Only boosting the stereotype that is the subject of this story, the reunion was in a trailer park.  In Myrtle Beach.  So we show up extra early with my parents and grandmother because Grandmamma wanted to set up all her family picture albums on a table so people could look at them and educate themselves on our family lineage, and these books help trace it back hundreds of years.  Scottery was bored, so as people are trickling into the small venue, he flips open one of the family albums.  And not 30 seconds later, he grabs my arm, whirls me around, thumps his finger down onto an 8x10 photo and says "Who is this?"


And I look at the photo.  I vaguely recognized it, but I didn't know who he was.  So I simply answer, "I don't know -- some guy I'm related to."  Then then very nervously, Scottery asks if I remember the story his family used to tell about how his mom's grandfather had been injured in a war and received the Medal of Honor after having his throat cut by pirates in a cave.  And I said yes, of course I remember that story.  And with eyes as big as saucers, Scottery pointed back at the picture and said "That's him!  That's Grandpa! That's the exact picture that was in the dining room at my grandparents' house!"  There was no mistaking it -- the name was right there.  It was true.

The hours ticked by like molasses in the wintertime, and while I was tickled about the whole situation (because really, the idea discovering you're engaged to your cousin right before your wedding is pretty funny), Scottery was having some kind of mental breakdown.  24 feet of good southern-church-lady food and a foot-high coconut cake, and Scottery couldn't eat a bite.  He was sick about it.  I stopped to talk to a relative and then looked for him again, only to find him pacing in the middle of the main road through the trailer park.  Several different times.  The problem was we didn't know how we were related, just his question of "What is my  great grandfather doing in your  family book??" 

At long last and after some awkward phone calls to Scottery's aunts about where exactly the tree may have forked, we rode back home with the plan to pick up a family history book his aunt had, which was actually written by the man in the picture himself, and then bring it back to my grandmother's house to cross-reference it with her many famiy history books.  It was almost too comical when we brought that book to my Grandmother's that evening, and she holds up the very same one, with a dedication on the front page to my grandmother, from Scottery's great grandfather, and asks why we went all the way across town to grab that book when she already had it all along. 

Turns out we are indeed fifth-cousins.  Related directly by blood and not by marriage.  The last names had changed over the generations as daughters got married and took new last names, and so that is why no one readily understood the connection.  In reality it is truly a long way down the line, and chances are there are a lot  of people around here with perhaps a closer relation, but who may be none the wiser.  Had Scottery not opened up that exact family album, we probably wouldn't ever know.  To round out the story, one of my bridesmaids is actually a genetic counselor, who gave us the OK that we probably won't have an eight-legged child when that time comes.  And so I married my fifth cousin.  You wouldn't be surprised at how many jokes can come along with that -- people were asking if we were going to change it to a pot luck wedding and have everyone bring a covered dish, if our first dance was going to be to "We Are Family"...the list goes on.  We like to joke that our family tree has kind of turned into a family wreath.  You just can't make this stuff up.

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Magnolia Plantation & Gardens


Scottery and I spent part of last Sunday afternoon at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens.  We have both been here before for weddings and some events, but only have seen the event spaces that are on a separate area of the plantation, not the main grounds.  But you can never learn too much about the world around you, so we drove out there to take advantage of the buy one, get one free ticket offer and to soak in a little bit o' culture on a cold January afternoon. 

And what a great afternoon it was.  When we got the tickets, Scottery gave me the option to choose one 'add on' to the base ticket price -- unfortunately the boat tour of the swamp only runs in the warmer months (looks like we'll have to go back in the spring!), so of the other choices I went with the Nature Train.  We only had about 20 minutes until our train left, so we grabbed a quick bite at the Peacock Cafe, a window-order restaurant that serves beer, and we had lunch at a stone table overlooking a giant field of roaming miniature ponies and a marauding flock of mystery fowl who came dangerously close to forcing me to give up my egg salad sandwich.  But it was a pastoral scene and a calming spot to enjoy a light lunch.  Turns out the Nature Train (actually more of a John Deere and covered, caravan seating) was a great choice, and the train tour guide drove us around the grounds for about 45 minutes, taking us along the riverbanks, swamp and old rice paddys.  The guide was knowledgeable about the bird and animal species we passed, and he presented it in a way that was much more interesting than an average tour.   

After the tour, we then went to the zoo / nature center and met and fed some of the fauna.  I've never gotten to pet a deer, much less have one eat from my hand.  We also saw foxes, a bobcat, and peacocks!  After a quick hand sanitizing, Scotter and I spent time walking through the famous gardens, planted beginning about 325 years ago and touted as America's oldest unrestored gardens.  After an hour or so of walking (insider tip: wear walking shoes!), we still had only seen a small fraction of the grounds.  We found our way through the Horticulture Maze, crossed over two dramatic foot bridges, and walked along the banks of the Ashley River.  Even in January, there were still flowers in bloom.  I can only imagine the kaleiodoscope of colors in the spring time.


  • Wear walking shoes
  • Allow a large block of time, then you might get to see more than we did...although we saw a lot.
  • The tickets actually allow you to come back one more time within the week, so plan accordingly if you'd like another day out there for 'free.'  You can receive a $5 discount coupon via email here.
  • Bikes and pets are welcome on the grounds (obviously not in the plantation house or in the petting zoo).
  • Dress to be outdoors -- if it's cold, bring a jacket.  If it's buggy, bug spray!  The best parts of the plantation are all outside, so come prepared so you can enjoy it.