Rymario Armstrong arrived at Old Point Park in Beaufort on the afternoon of July 4, blindfolded. He was ready for his retirement party after spending 17 years in the military. Instead, he got married.
His fiancée — now wife — Nakita Brown had been planning a surprise wedding for months.
The couple had actually been engaged for three years, but they simply hadn’t made any concrete plans.
Finally, on a sizzling hot Independence Day, with Brown in her beaded black gown and Armstrong in his Corps uniform, the couple tied the knot.
Armstrong said he suspected something was going on — especially after Brown asked him to write his vows. But he wasn’t entirely sure when it was going to happen, and when he removed his blindfold in Old Point Park to see about 40 people dressed in their Sunday best, he stood in stunned silence.
Brown’s father Joseph Brown walked her down the red brick pathway that served as an aisle.
“Roses are red, violets are blue, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. The end,” Armstrong said during the ceremony — before clarifying it was a joke and sharing his real vows.
And then, the couple said “I do” under South Carolina palm trees.
Brown, 30 and a Beaufort native, and Armstrong, 36 and from Mississippi, met in 2011.
Brown was working in a barbershop in Beaufort, and Armstrong had just been assigned to Beaufort’s Corps base. Brown had a boyfriend in Alabama, and she was entirely uninterested in dating. But Armstrong was undeterred.
“When I first met you at that barbershop… at that moment, I thought, ‘I gotta take this girl on a date,’ ” Armstrong said to Brown during his vows.
Armstrong started coming to the barbershop more and more frequently, sometimes twice a week, Brown recalled. And he always asked for her to cut his hair.
Soon enough, they became friends.
“He’d say, ‘I’m coming over at 7 o clock tonight,’ ” Brown said. “And I said, ‘no you’re not.’ But 7 o’clock on the dot, he’d come knocking on the door. I would say I didn’t want him to come over, but I actually did want him to come over.”
But Brown still resisted dating him. He became her best friend, she said, but he just wasn’t her type.
And then, “one day, it just happened,” Brown said. “I woke up and it happened.”
That was four years ago, and Brown and Armstrong have been together ever since. They have one child together, Camren, in addition to seven other children from previous marriages.
When Armstrong first asked Brown to marry him, in keeping with tradition, she turned him down.
“I walked into the bedroom, and he just asked ‘Yes or no?’ ” Brown said. “And I said, ‘Yes or no, what are you talking about?’ ”
Brown wasn’t having it. Armstrong tried his luck again a month later, at the Jazz Corner on Hilton Head Island. This time around, Brown agreed.
The couple had casually discussed a cruise wedding, but they decided it was too expensive.
So Brown took matters into her own hands — and as it turns out, Brown beat her new husband to the chase. Armstrong had considered planning a surprise wedding for August, said Brown’s mother, Louise Brown.
The couple plans on heading to the courthouse to receive their marriage license later in the week.
Kasia Kovacs: 843-706-8139, @kasiakovacs
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