Destination weddings planned in exotic locales, intimate weddings organized on a shoestring budget, full-scale galas with guests from all over the globe. . . . In A Wedding Like No Other, read the stories of some of the most incredible, romantic ceremonies and receptions collected by the wedding etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute. As different as they all are, the stories featured here are examples of how a wedding can be heartwarming and unique—even if everything doesn't go exactly as planned. In each one, the bride and groom make a determined effort for their wedding day to be an expression of their tastes and personalities, often in the face of unexpected obstacles. And in every case, the end result is a wonderful and memorable experience for the couple and for everyone else involved.
Let these stories help inspire your own big day. The creative vows, cakes, toasts, and more described in these pages will spark your own ideas and help you personalize every detail of your wedding. Also, each story is followed by a short advice section, offering insights and general wisdom on a large variety of topics from picking the venue to selecting the menu.
Go beyond the standard, the expected, and make your big day a cherished, uplifting, unforgettable experience. You already have a love like no other, so celebrate it with a wedding like no other.
Sara and Nick had their October wedding mapped out in every detail: They would get married in the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, New York, which Sara had attended all her life, then drive a few miles down the road to a grand old beach club, where the reception would be held in a beautiful setting on the shore of the Long Island Sound. It was the same place where Sara's sister had her reception, and Sara had long dreamed of having her own reception there, too. Her plan was to have the meal in the main club-house, with a tent set up on the beach for dancing.
The wedding day dawned to storm warnings: A full-blown nor'easter was heading their way, due to hit sometime in the afternoon. Of course, no one wants rain on their wedding day, but there was nothing that could be done about it, so the couple shrugged off the news and continued with their final preparations.
"The first sign that the storm might be more serious than we thought was when the tent company called, early in the afternoon," remembers Sara. "They told us the wind was too strong to put up the tent on the beach. The sky was very overcast, but it hadn't started to rain yet. My attitude was, 'Come on, the storm hasn't even hit.' But I guess they knew something we didn't."
By the time Sara, Nick, and the rest of their wedding party drove to the church for the three o'clock ceremony, the day had turned almost pitch-black and the first drops of rain had begun to fall. "I left the house with a garbage bag held over my head," says Sara. "Still, everyone got to the church okay, and the ceremony went off without any problems until just before I was supposed to walk down the aisle. That's when the lights went out." Since Nick's family had been talking about dimming the lights during the ceremony all along, Sara's first thought was that this was just part of the ceremony—until the priest stopped the service and called for candles to be given to the bridesmaids for their walk down the aisle.
"Along with the candles on the altar, and more candles in the back of the church, it looked incredibly dramatic," said Sara. "When the ceremony was finished, we rushed out of the church and discovered the storm had gotten really scary. The wind was blowing incredibly hard, and the rain was falling sideways."
Snug inside their limo, the couple headed down the beach road leading to their reception site, their 250 guests trailing behind. Not far from the club, they ran into a police roadblock—a tree was down, blocking the way. Undaunted, they reversed course and tried the only other approach to the club. Again, they encountered a fallen tree that made the road impassible.
Unsure what to do—and with their food, flowers, wedding cake, and dance floor all waiting out of reach at the beach club—the wedding group turned their cars around and made their way through the driving rain to the house of Sara's parents. "That's when we lost a lot of the people who'd been following us," says Sara. "This was ten years ago, before everyone had cell phones, and the storm was so bad that people were reluctant to get out of their cars to find out what was going on."
Sara's father made a call to another nearby club, where he was also a member—and where Nick's family and a number of other guests were staying—to ask if there was any way they could a host a last-minute wedding reception. The club's event manager told him that there was already another formal wedding reception underway in the club's main dining area, but that they could use the casual "19th Hole" bar and grill area on the lower level, where, on sunnier days, club members relax and unwind after playing a round of golf.
"It's a pretty small space, with faux-wood paneling, a low white ceiling, and a huge bulletin board for club announcements— very different from the beach club, which is really beautiful," says Sara. "But we were so glad to get there."
By the time the bride and groom showed up, everything had been prepared: The events manager and the club's chef had raided the club's refrigerator and freezer for any food they could get their hands on, and the chef had immediately gone to work on his massive grill, whipping up a full buffet of fresh-cooked food, which was set out and waiting for the guests as they arrived. "The moment we walked in, we knew everything was going to be perfect," Sara says. "It was incredible how they pulled it together."
With the help of family and friends, the couple had been able to contact about half of their guests in person or by phone to let them know about the change in venue, and a hundred-odd people—some of them in jeans, having returned home only to be evacuated because of rising flood waters—were now packed into the lounge, enjoying the food and the open bar, eyeing the storm that raged outside the picture windows and dancing wherever they could find the room.
While the original musicians Sara and Nick had hired had given up in the storm and gone home, it turned out that the musicians playing at the reception upstairs were members of the same band—and so they arranged for three or four musicians at a time to slip downstairs and play at Sara and Nick's celebration. Meanwhile, another guest had ventured out in the storm to a nearby store to get a chocolate ice cream cake with an oreo-crumb topping, which served as the couple's wedding cake.
"Everyone just had the best time. They all kept saying 'This is the best wedding in the world,' " Sara remembers. The highlight of the evening came when the couple in the ballroom invited Sara and Nick to have wedding pictures taken with their cake before it was served. Sara says that these shots are among their favorite memories.