Alex Pelling strolled up the stairs of Litchfield Plantation, both hands clutching carrying trays filled with Starbucks coffee.
He went into the second-floor room and delivered the coffee to four people who were helping get ready for Pelling’s Saturday afternoon wedding to fiancee Lisa Gant.
One of the coffees was for hair stylist Wing Wong, who was hard at work styling Gant’s hair for the big day. Another was for Gant herself.
Wait, isn’t it bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding? Not when it’s your 29th ceremony.
“Normally, he’s the only person around to get me dressed,” Gant said.
Saturday was the couple’s kickoff of a five-day Myrtle Beach Wedding Extravaganza, a whirlwind tour of the area complete with a ceremony each day.
The English pair have been traveling the world and having weddings in each country they visit in search of the perfect spot to get married.
This adventure around the globe isn’t costing the two anything except gas money for the van that’s affectionately referred to as “Peggy.”
All of the venues, DJs, florists, dress makers, bakeries and even a local winery are donating their time and products for free. The hope is the exposure the couple – who will be profiled by ABC’s “20/20” while in the Myrtle Beach area – bring locally will have a positive impact on both the Grand Strand’s wedding and overall tourism industry.
Their travels throughout North America so far have included stops in Canada, Colorado and, now, South Carolina.
And they’ve traveled the continent on $60 a day in gas money for their ’87 Dodge van, which was picked up in Toronto.
Why call it Peggy? Gant said it’s in honor of her 93-year-old “nana” who just keeps on going.
“My nana was mortified,” she said when her beloved grandmother learned of the van’s new title.
They cook the majority of their meals and shower every two or three days at camp sites.
Peggy and its inhabitants came to Myrtle Beach after local photographer August Michel learned of the couple’s travels and got them to agree to the five-day wedding extravaganza.
Producing the five weddings is strictly a volunteer effort. Michel previously said he couldn’t put a figure on just how much they would all cost. What he did know was they’d be expensive.
None of Pelling’s and Gant’s weddings are legal, and they plan to keep touring the world and getting married until July 2014. At that point, they hope to announce their favorite destination and then officially tie the knot there.
“[It’s] just a great, unique experience,” said Wong, owner of Myrtle Beach’s Salon and Spa 18, who has kept customers up-to-speed about the event via his Facebook page.
Wong said he came into the fold because of his friendship with Kelly Catron, who operates Gigi Noelle Events with her mother.
Catron’s business includes wedding ceremonies, and she organized all the other vendors who came out.
“It’s good for business,” Catron said of what being a part of Pelling’s and Gant’s adventure means.
In addition to the upcoming television segment, the couple have chronicled their experience on their blog.
Catron said she and her mother have been working on the wedding for three months. Initially, around 15 vendors wanted to donate resources. As word got out through wedding blogs and other social media, the number grew to nearly 50, she added.
When it comes to the themes for their various weddings, Pelling said he and Gant’s idea is to embrace local cultures and traditions. So, they let the locals choose.
“If we chose the same thing every time, it’d be boring,” he said
Both agree their favorite wedding so far was during an undead ceremony in Peru.
Gant smiled as she recalled all the items laid out on a table, and how each was symbolic. For instance, corn symbolized always being fed, while gold leaf represented having all of life’s riches, she said.
Saturday’s ceremony was a traditional Southern ceremony, complete with horse-drawn carriage, musical accompaniment from violinist and cello player and the lighting of a unity candle.
Most of the guests were the various vendors who helped put the event together. Their attire certainly wasn’t traditional; almost all were wearing blue jeans.
A local minister blessed their union, had them repeat vows and introduced them as man and wife.
For those keeping score, that’s one Grand Strand wedding down, four to go.
“It could never be bad because we have no expectations,” Pelling said.