Lots of couples dream about an outdoor wedding amidst the fall foliage, though last week's Halloween wedding of Whitney Dangefield and Mark Sparrough proves that the romance of a great marriage comes not from intense color, goofy masks and wigs or even the occasional raindrop, but from the couple themselves.
You see, an odd thing happened late in the afternoon two Saturdays ago, something that might drive fear and loathing into the heart of a different bride. It rained. It rained, beginning with a light drizzle five minutes before ceremony time and slowly morphing into a steady downpour. The kind of weather that ties your brain into a knot. Do we continue outside? Move things inside? Are we tough? Are we wimps? And before I tell you what happened in the end, let me back up just a bit.
I liked Whitney and Mark for two silly reasons when they came in to book me. Mark is a steadicam operator in the New York television industry, and anyone who knows how heavy those things are can appreciate how tough his job is. And that's before he even begins shooting! Mark does work for shows like America's Most Wanted, a place I hope to never find myself. Whitney works for the New York Times, but it gets even better than that. Her boss is actually my old college newspaper buddy, Gerry Mullany. Gerry and I spent countless overnights together at Pipe Dream, our little newspaper with the ridiculous name, me processing film in the darkroom and Mullany hovering over the paste-up boards, X-Acto knife in hand. (Yes, back in the ancient days of 1984, there were no computers in dorm rooms, no iPhones or iPods, and no internet. Copy was pasted up with hot wax, some of which is still stuck under my fingernails.)
After school, I ended up at USA Today, Gerry went to the New York Times, photo editor Ken Brown went to The Wall Street Journal, sports editor Ron Klempner went to the NBA Player's Association, and someone, whose name I will spare, ended up at Hustler. We were all living our dreams, especially, it would seem, that last individual. To think that one of my brides now works for Gerry makes me feel less nostalgic and more, well, old.
Back to Leesburg, Virginia on a vibrant Halloween day. Whitney was having her hair done by her sister and Mark was secluded in his room, practicing the hip-hop dance moves he and his mom would surprise guests with later that night. Whitney's dad, who would perform the ceremony, was lying on his hotel room bed, thinking about all the things one must think about when their daughter gets married. And all of us would occasionally glance outside at the weather.
It was threatening, that's for sure. But by the time the ceremony rolled around, the rain had still held off. I considered it a minor miracle. As we arrived at Raspberry Plain, there was plenty of gorgeous light to take some family pictures. But as the ceremony began in the garden a light drizzle began falling. The groomsmen made their way to the front. The bridesmaids walked down the aisle, followed by the flower girls. The rain began falling a bit heavier with each individual, and just a tad colder to boot.
And then came a voice: "Whitney would like to move things indoors because of the rain." Since I was locked in my position, I could only wonder what was going through her mind. I knew she was probably unsure of what the right call was and whether she did the right thing.
The answer is absolutely yes.