Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s uptown branch means many things to many people. For Crystal Redfern and Justin Lyons, it’s a place of new beginnings – on August 7th they married in the Great Hall. We spoke with the couple just a few weeks before their big day.
For Crystal, the Main Library represents a dream fulfilled. “I grew up in Charlotte,” she explained, “and we didn’t always have a steady home. It was rough. The Library was my safe place – I found comfort there, hung out in the stacks, I’d talk to staff, read everything. As a child I took the quotes on the columns outside to mean my situation was temporary, and the answers I needed were mine to find in this building. As I got older I understood that education was going to be my ticket to something better. That’s why libraries matter. They hold the tools and support to make dreams come true. Even today, the smell of books brings me right back to those days in the library and I feel safe.”
Crystal and Justin first met as students at UNC-Chapel Hill and reconnected a few years later. They became engaged in 2019, and when they heard that Main Library would be demolished to make way for a new building, they knew they’d found their venue. “I always said as a child that I never wanted to get married, but if I DID marry, the library is where I’d do it,” Crystal laughs.
“There’s something sentimental about a library for me too,” recalls Justin. “I grew up in Raleigh and remember the feeling of adventure that came with having a library card. It was like a passport to explore the world, and that was so empowering for a kid. Crystal and I are both pretty non-traditional, and we wanted to celebrate this moment in a place that would re-create that sense of adventure for our guests. It was an easy decision.”
Their timing was perfect. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library doesn’t typically host weddings, but this one offered an opportunity to pilot the idea and identify challenges, opportunities and considerations for similar events in the new Main Library.
Theirs is the first (and last!) wedding to be held in the current Main Library facility. “We’re really excited about being a part of Charlotte history and giving that experience to our guests. For people from Charlotte, this building has special meaning and it’s like a magnet, everyone wants to help” explains Crystal. The pair recalled a hip hop violinist they heard in a New York City subway, and learned she was from Charlotte. “Her name is Bri Blvck, and she went to Northwest School of the Arts. She’s coming home to play our wedding at the Library.”
The couple are making Library history, but they’re also looking to the future. Instead of wedding gifts, they’ve asked their guests to make a donation to the CommonSpark campaign to support a new Main Library and improvements throughout the Library system.
Congratulations to Crystal and Justin, and thank you for helping Charlotte Mecklenburg Library continue to improve lives and build a stronger community for generations to come.