Roper Hospital backdrop for volunteer coordinator's wedding

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - When planning a wedding, a bride and groom don't often look to a hospital for venue inspiration, but that's exactly what happened for Roper Hospital's volunteer coordinator.

For Lynne Steele, Roper Hospital is more than the building where she works as volunteer coordinator.

Roper Hospital is the place where Steele met friends and co-workers who have become family. That's one of the reasons she wanted one of the most special days of her life to take place at the hospital, which happened on a Saturday earlier this month.

Steele tied the knot in the downtown hospital's outdoor garden, a space that was funded and built by Roper Hospital volunteers. Weddings typically aren't permitted to be held there - the hospital has the Bennett House available for rent - but CEO Matt Severance made a special exception for Steele because of her connection to that spot.

Roper Hospital volunteers raised about $70,000 to create the garden, which was dedicated in 2009. Steele just had moved into the volunteer coordinator role in 2008, and she spearheaded the effort to beautify that area.

"That garden became my life," she said.

Steele and her now husband, Eric, knew they wanted to say their vows outdoors, and Steele suggested the garden.

"This garden has meant so much to me and my volunteers," she said. "Many of them I've known for years, and they've really become like family to me."

She envisioned her wedding for her second marriage to be simple and small, but her Roper St. Francis volunteers and co-workers pitched in to make it a day she'll remember forever.

Volunteer Rosie Mellis made a three-tiered, beach-themed wedding cake, complete with a starfish topper. Another volunteer, Buzz Edwards, played a portable keyboard for the ceremony.

Volunteer Judy Volkman made balloon bouquets for Steele and her daughter, who was a bridesmaid. Volunteer Sue Murner, who hangs fliers in the hospital's elevators, ended up walking down the aisle as a bridesmaid, and volunteer Linda Sheller planned Steele's bachelorette party and decorated the car she rode in after the wedding. Joan Perry, director of volunteers for Roper St. Francis, took photos of the ceremony and reception, and Lark Hiser, a Roper St. Francis assistant, took care of the wedding decorations.

Steele estimates that about 40 people attended the ceremony, and about 30 of them were hospital volunteers. They spent part of the reception in the garden then made their way to the Volunteer Office where they danced and were toasted.

"I definitely felt loved," Steele said.

Story and photos provided by Roper St. Francis.