Dream team: It's not always easy for the experts...

From last minute cancellations to hairy situations to blood-covered grooms, these tales from the trenches show that even the wedding experts sometimes have to (literally) roll with the punches– or kicks, as the case may be.


Takes the cake

Riki Tanabe

Albemarle Baking Company

What do you do when you've called the wedding off, but the cake's already been made? Albemarle Baking Company found out the answer: Parrrrrty!

"We tried to deliver a cake to a wedding and found out the wedding had been cancelled," Tanabe recalls. "They had cancelled with everybody else– except us and the band. The band wouldn't refund the money, so the couple insisted that they come to play on their lawn for some friends. The couple had us bring the cake to feed people. We felt bad, so we didn't charge them for the cake."


The ring-er

Harlan & McGuire

Biff McGuire and Pat Harlan

"A guy came in to buy his engagement ring," recalls Biff, who, with his wife Pat, has owned Harlan McGuire since 1974. "Having said yes, the girl came back to have it sized. While she was dropping it off for sizing, Pat mentioned that our manager had left, and we had an opening. An hour later, the girl came back and said, 'I'm interested in that job.' She quit her job of three or four years, and was hired."

That girl is actually a woman, Kimberly Ogden, who had previously worked as a guidance counselor.

"It's something I've wanted to do since I was a little girl," Ogden says of getting into the jewelry biz.

Her dream is bigger than just management, it turns out.

"Her long-term goal is to own this business," says Pat, "and that's what we're working toward. It's one of those amazing things that's meant to be."



Hank Wells

Sam Hill

"We book bands for weddings, but sometimes they're too good, and the wedding gets out of control," laughs Wells, who owns Sam Hill Bands, a local company that booked bands for 300 weddings last year. Such was the case at one recent wedding.

"We booked Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts. They went to school down south; they're like a legendary Animal House-style soul band, a Motown Band," says Wells. "This party was off the hook, everyone was having a great time, and then the groom decided he was going to do 'the worm,' a break-dancing move that involves dropping to one's stomach and undulating across the floor.

"When he dropped down to do it," says Wells, "he got kicked in the face by a groomsman really badly– bloody, stitches. He and his new wife ended up spending the night in the emergency room. You couldn't write something like that."


Hair raising

Frederick Ayers

Hair at Kismet

"I'd never met this bride before," says Ayers, recalling one hair-raising trip south to Lexington for a wedding. At first, he recalls, the bride wanted something simple, so he pulled it into a low chignon.

"No, no, that's too severe," she said, "that's not going to do." So Ayers did something a bit more complicated– "a swirly, taffy-ribboning effect French twist." That, he says, was "too modern" for her. Next, she suggested putting up the hair in front and curling it and leaving the hair down in back. "Is it just going to fall by the end of the night?" she asked. "Probably," Ayers told her.

"I ended up having to give her a headful of Shirley Temple curls," laughs Ayers. "It looked horrible, but she liked it and was happy on her wedding day. What do you do? I couldn't just leave..."

Ayers advice: Always have a consultation and a trial run to avoid having a bad hair day on your big day.


Picture this

Jim Carpenter

Gitchell's Studio

"Weddings will never, ever go through with smooth sailing," laughs Jim Carpenter, who's been taking wedding photos for 17 years.

Carpenter says one wedding in particular stands out– a wedding "that was never to be had." He arrived, camera in hand, at 9:30am to take pictures of the family, and immediately got a bad feeling.

"The florist gave the mother of the groom flowers, and the mother threw them against a wall and shattered them," says Carpenter. "The florist picked up the bouquet and quietly explained, 'This is what your daughter-in law ordered,'" Carpenter recalls. "The mother told the florist, "I'm from the north, and we're not used to those little things.'"

For hours the groom was a no-show, but 10 minutes before the ceremony, Carpenter found him in the library with the pastor, who called the situation, "the worst case of cold feet I've ever seen."

Eventually, both the bride and groom made it to the altar, but halfway through his vows, the groom announced, "I'm sorry, I cannot go through with this."

The pastor walked the unmarried couple back down the aisle, then returned a while later.

"This couple is in love," the pastor reported, "but there's not going to be a wedding today."

Carpenter says the food and cake were donated to the Salvation Army, but the couple had another surprise.

"They ended up getting to a marriage counselor who married them that night," says Carpenter. "They came back in the spring to have pictures."


Best laid plans

Sheila Motley

The Event Company

As an event planner, Sheila Motley always prepares for the unexpected, but one outdoor wedding went to the dogs– well, one dog, anyway.

The couple had decided to include their cuddly canine in their ceremony, which took place under a group of towering 100-year-old oaks.

As the ceremony began, says Motley, "the dog was being beautifully behaved and drawing the attention and admiration of all the wedding guests."

But all good things must come to an end....

"Something we had not considered as a possibility were the squirrels who make their homes in such oak trees," Motley recalls. "The dog began chasing each squirrel from tree to tree which included running down aisles made by the ceremony chairs and around all of the guests. It was quite a game of chase."

Fortunately, the guests were good-natured about the commotion.

"The dog became the hit of the event," says Motley, "putting a smile on everyone's faces! It was one of those adorable and touching instances that make a wedding so memorable."