To have and to hold from this day forward is what a wedding is all about.
But what if the big day didn’t turn out exactly as expected after all the months of preparation that led up to it? Well, for years to come, those will likely be the moments no one forgets.
Say, for example, if the U.S. Navy Blue Angels roar over your outdoor wedding reception. That was a pleasant surprise for Lori Foster during her outdoor wedding reception at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School on Aug. 24, 1999. The jets whizzed overhead a few times because the school was located on the Blue Angels’ flight path for the air show being held at the Rochester International Airport, she said.
"Nine years later, guests still remark on the thrill of the Blue Angels flying in pattern overhead," Foster, director of marketing and fundraising for Providence Housing Development Corp., wrote in a note about her memorable wedding moment. "Jokingly, we said it was difficult to arrange but glad they liked the added touch."
But how about a party crasher that’s not so fun?
Deacon Jim Nail remembers a wedding on a hot August day in 2005 at St. Mary of the Lake Church in Ontario. Two weddings were scheduled that day, and since the church does not have central air conditioning, the windows and doors were left open to try to cool things off. The first ceremony went off without a hitch, Deacon Nail said.
During the second wedding, however, a snake decided to shake things up just as the couple was about to exchange vows, he recalled. The wedding party was making its way to the altar when Deacon Nail noticed all the women quickly hop upon the altar. That’s when he saw the snake slither under the first row of pews.
"Since the church is all on one floor, apparently the snake had come inside to cool off," Deacon Nail wrote in a letter about that day.
His quick actions helped save the day as he stepped on the snake and turned on his portable microphone to ask for help in removing it from the church. One of the groomsmen stepped up to the challenge as he reached down, picked up the snake and "removed the uninvited guest from the church," Deacon Nail wrote.
"Since that day, I have always wondered which deceased relative of the couple was objecting to the marriage," Deacon Nail quipped.
If snakes make one think of the Garden of Eden, that leads to the next devilish wedding moment.
Ann Marie Meade said she and her husband chose to get married on Oct. 13, 2006 — Friday the 13th. They chose that date purposefully, she explained, because there are 13 years between their ages and her birthday also falls on the 13th of July.
The couple didn’t really think anything else of it, Meade noted, until a week before the ceremony. That’s when the priest who was to celebrate the wedding — Father Frank Lioi, pastor of St. Mary Church in Auburn — insisted they include the hymn "Hear Us Now, Our God and Father."
"At the time I thought it was really odd," she said of Father Lioi’s suggestion.
When she looked up the song’s number in the hymnal to note on the wedding program, she realized what mischief Father Lioi was up to.
"When it came time to sing the hymn during the Mass, Father Lioi stood up and announced that since we were being married on Friday the 13th it was only appropriate that we sing hymn 666," she recalled.
But Friday the 13th turned out to be a happy day after all, she added.
"Everything else went smoothly," Meade said with a chuckle. "Nothing bad came out of it."
For Jane and Emanuel Bertola, parishioners of St. Lawrence Church in Greece, doom and gloom was predicted upon their marriage simply because she is Polish and he is Italian. That was 60 years ago.
The couple met when she was 8 and he was 11, Jane Bertola explained. They remained friends and stayed in touch when he went off to fight in World War II. He returned a war hero, and they decided to marry. Their intention to marry was met with opposition, but they went ahead with the ceremony at Rochester’s St. Stanislaus Church, Jane Bertola noted.
"I had some friends and some relatives who didn’t come, but we didn’t care," she remarked. "We had a big Polish wedding whether anybody liked it or not. … It has been a wonderful life."