|Updated: 2/15/2012 10:46 pm
||Published: 2/15/2012 4:09 pm
HARDY, AR - "This is one of the latest styles. Strapless. Mermaid. Everybody loves this. Comes in white or ivory."
Debbie Gray has a passion for planning dream weddings.
"I actually do all of the altering, too," Debbie said.
After growing up in Hardy, Arkansas, Debbie never thought she'd be back.
"I came here when I was six years old, and I left when I was 18,” Debbie said. “Couldn't wait to get out of this little town."
Debbie and her husband mike moved to Pocahontas, opening a bridal shop while raising their family. They later found success in Jonesboro, a bigger city where they could sell bigger weddings.
"In 2007, my mother's health [was] failing, and I'm the only daughter and I'm the only child and I felt this tug to come home," Debbie said.
That's when the grays created Creekside Loft, a full service florist, dress and tux shop, wedding chapel, dinner theater and banquet room.
But soon after the move, a flood hit.
"It's just been devastating,” Debbie said. “If I had ever known that I would've flooded five times, I would have stayed in Jonesboro."
You can still see the water line in the Chapel from the flooding, but when it first happened in 2007, water almost went up to the ceiling.
"The counter where we take money was on the stage," Debbie said.
The latest flood forced Debbie out of her business for several weeks during prom season.
"We actually have, you know, 200 prom dresses and 200 wedding dresses and we wrap them up in sheets and that's how we get them out of here,” Debbie said. “It looks like throwing dead bodies in the back of the truck.”
Dealing with floods makes taking on other potential problems a breeze.
Take “bridezillas,” for example. They aren't a new trend - Debbie met one 33 years ago.
"She was a total terror,” Debbie said. “She didn't even know me, [but] she came in, she wanted yellow roses, she wanted this, she wanted that, she wanted everything beautiful. I got to the church with everything. The roses weren't open. They were buds. She just almost told me off. I wanted open roses. I said, ‘honey, by the end of the day they will be open. They're beautiful. They're perfect.’ Of course, they were open."
After more than thirty years in the wedding business, Debbie wants to try something new.
"Lauren says if she wins, she will pay off the building and we won't have to work so hard,” Debbie said. “Wouldn't that be great?"
This idol star's mom also dreams of making it to Hollywood.
"I told them, if you win, I'm moving with you to sew for the stars, so whatever. You know, I'll sneak in, whatever,” Debbie said. “You might as well get me hired, I'm ready."
"Yeah, I know,” Lauren said. “I'm going to have to put you on the list of moms and family members that want to work at American Idol.”