May 17, 2014 11:01:34 PM
BILOXI -- The altar was draped in burlap and the wedding cake was decorated with burlap roses as Angel White married Charles Morris on Saturday, giving thanks to an anonymous woman who put their wedding rings into a Salvation Army kettle back in November.
The donor wanted the rings given to a Christian couple who could not afford a diamond and were making a lifetime commitment. A Salvation Army contest received nearly 500 entries.
Morris' mother, Dawn Solomon, nominated her son and White, whose 16-month-old son, Joseph, died in October. They wanted to marry but could not afford either rings or a headstone for baby Joseph, she wrote.
Joseph's photo was on the altar as his mother became Angel Morris, Kroc Center event planner Becky Weitzel told The Associated Press.
Salvation Army Maj. Gary Sturdivant was the minister.
"The story was just so compelling and it was the most touching story that we had from all of the entries," he told The Sun Herald at the wedding rehearsal Thursday.
Weitzel said about 75 people attended the wedding and reception, with flowers, decorations and food donated and equipment lent by a dozen or more local businesses.
The bride's empire-waisted gown was not donated, she said. The groom "wore jeans with a really cute vest and a boutonniere. The bridesmaids wor cowboy boots with knee-length turquoise or aqua dresses."
The couple is from Purvis, south of Hattiesburg.
White told the newspaper that, after her son died, "I didn't see a light back then. I felt like God had been against me."
After funeral expenses, the couple hasn't been able to afford a proper gravestone. Morris' grandfather painted a brick as a temporary marker.
Morris said he had planned to propose on White's birthday in March, but they learned in February they had won the rings and a wedding.
White said she broke down in tears. "I couldn't do anything but thank the good Lord above and (Morris') mother," she said.
Solomon said, "It was time that something good happened to her. It kind of renewed her faith that, you know, there are good people out there."
The greatest thanks are due, she said, to the woman who donated the rings: "I hope that she's watching this somewhere and realizes what a blessing her gift has been to other people."