Behind the Scenes, 2: Near-Mishaps & Almost-Mayhem (or, the Rest of the Story)

NJM 2800 medb.phpThe best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley…

–“To a Mouse,” Robert Burns

The morning of our wedding started out well enough: I woke up early and had time to put the finishing touches on our “S” decorations before my parents stirred. I made eggs and Canadian bacon for family breakfast. I took a relaxing shower to prepare for my hair and makeup appointments.

Then I gave myself a second degree burn.

Cuppa Ouch

Bridesmaid Sherry was joining me and my mom for hair and makeup. After she arrived, we gathered purses and key supplies: the lipstick I’d purchased for the wedding, my birdcage veil. As we headed out the door, I decided to take a cup of tea, since the sniffles I’d had the day before had morphed into a scratchy throat and were threatening full-on cold status. Back in the kitchen I filled a tall ceramic cup with water, placed it in the microwave, pressed the buttons and waited.

I make tea every morning. Sometimes I use an automatic tea brewer, and on even rarer occasions, I boil water in a kettle. Most frequently, though, I just pop a mug of water in the microwave and drop in a teabag. I repeat: every morning.

Early burn

Early burn, pre-blistering

Our new microwave left water lukewarm at one minute, so I’d taken to hitting the “+30 seconds” button = perfect. When the timer dinged, I punched the door open and went to grab my cup. Except for some reason, on this particular morning, it was crazy hot. I jerked my hand back, almost knocking the mug over, so instinctively I moved to catch it. Scalding water poured over the knuckles and fingers of my left hand for several seconds before I let go, yelping, and made a beeline for the cold water faucet.

I decided not to take tea to my appointment. Instead, I took an ice pack.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

Steve had stayed the night at the Hotel Roanoke and passed the morning without incurring bodily harm. We narrowly missed colliding into each other in the hotel corridor before the wedding, however.

My two bridesmaids and I had gotten dressed at our house (maid-of-honor Melissa was unable to join us because a water main break had sent her scrambling to shower at her parents’). Then we were to head to the hotel for pre-wedding pictures. The timing had gotten thrown off when I realized I’d completely forgotten to pack for our wedding night and had to run around at the last second searching half-unpacked boxes for clean clothes and toothpaste.

I’d texted Steve we were running behind and to confirm an all-clear before he headed to the lobby. But punctuality is embedded in his genetic makeup. As the ladies and I made our way toward the room, photographer Noah rounded a corner ahead of us and suddenly called out, “Stop!” Steve was just feet away.

The only place to hide? We four ladies crammed ourselves and our fancy dresses into a tiny nearby elevator.

Malfunction Junction

Showing off their socks

The shot that revealed the rip

Something about rented clothes just seems to invite trouble. Our first wardrobe malfunction was minor, though it gave me a moment’s pause when Noah said to me, “Before heading to the venue, we have to go back to the room so Steve can take off his pants.” Steve had crossed his legs during the photo shoot with the groomsmen and revealed a thigh-high rip in the seam. He’d figured on finding a safety pin until our jack-of-all-trades photographer scoffed at the idea and procured a sewing kit from the front desk.

The second malfunction took place during the reception. Shortly before we were to do the garter toss, Steve approached me. “I don’t have the toss garter,” he said, frowning.

“What? What happened to it?” I’d decorated a glittery headband to use as the toss garter and given it to him the day before. He’d immediately put it—we both thought—into the inside pocket of his wedding suit jacket.

“I don’t know. I think it must have missed the pocket and fallen straight to the bottom of the suit bag.” If so, it was in a closet in a room several blocks away from where we stood.

”Well, let’s just not do it then,” I said. I’d been waffly about the ritual anyway. “Quick, we have to tell the DJ before he starts playing the song!”

Too late. The opening beats of “You Can Leave Your Hat On” were already sounding from the speakers.

“Wait, stop!” I looked around frantically for our planner. “We don’t have a toss garter,” I said, when both she and Noah rushed to my side. Baby, take off your shoes growled across the rooftop. “It’s at the hotel!”

We have a garter!

We have a garter!

They flew into action. Lexi herded the gathering young men closer to the center of the dance floor, while Noah stripped several ribbons from one of our decorative columns, looped them into a circle, then tied on a wine cork from the bar as ballast. He passed the ersatz garter to Steve as Lexi escorted me to the waiting chair. Steve pretended to slide something off my leg, palming the replacement instead. He stood and tossed it to the waiting crowd.

Joe Cocker was still crooning as it spiraled through the air.


It wasn’t until the day after the wedding I learned my dad had almost gotten himself arrested less than an hour before the ceremony.

By 4:15 on Saturday, the family and all members of the wedding party had gathered at the venue, the ladies and I ensconced in a room downstairs, everyone else up on the rooftop. My dad stopped in to tell me he’d forgotten to wear the socks I’d given him and asked if it would it be okay if he ran back to the house to get them. We had a good hour before the ceremony started, and the house was only a mile away.

“That’s fine,” I said. “There’s plenty of time.” Since he was back to help escort me up to the rooftop before the wedding started, I figured he’d gone to the house, grabbed the socks, driven back, and that’s all there was to it.

Turns out there was a little more.

When Dad got to the house, he unlocked the front door and entered, punched the code into the alarm key pad, and—it kept beeping.

So he punched it in again. It still kept beeping. He punched it in a third time. No change. The alarm went off.

IMG_5949 lg

There when I needed him!

He changed his socks and waited around until the screeching finally stopped ten or fifteen minutes later. By then, a cop had pulled up. Dad met him outside, showed the young officer his ID, and explained the situation. He had keys to the house in his pocket.

The cop believed him but had to write a report anyway. He left a copy of the form with my Dad, who waited until the cop left, placed the paper on the radiator, locked the door, and drove back downtown to walk me down the aisle.

The Best of the Rest

We returned the torn pants with the rest of the suit, and I don’t know what happened to the insta-garter. I kept my Dad’s citation to tuck into the box of our wedding keepsakes. I know that every so often I’ll re-discover it and laugh, grateful for a father who wanted to honor my vision, who protected me from worry, who’s given me this and so many other wonderful memories.


Personal photo

The morning after the wedding, when I lifted my hand to admire my new band, I spotted the half-inch tall blister that had arisen overnight on my index finger. At first glance it almost looked like I wore a second ring with an oversized cabochon.

The blister later popped, and the burn is mostly healed, but I suspect I may sport the reddish, slightly raised scar for months, maybe years, maybe a lifetime.

That’s okay. Scars tell stories, and for this one, “forever” sounds about right.

All photos by Noah Magnifico unless otherwise noted.

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