The story of this wedding really begins about 9 days before the wedding itself. It was Friday, and my Mom and I had just arrived in Maine for the weekend to finish up as many last minute projects as we could. My Dad and Uncle were coming later that night and planned on taking care of maintenance at the wedding site and the weenie roast area. We continued to do as many things as we could to get ready for the big weekend that we had spent forever planning for. A lot of that was checking in with the companies that would be providing the most essential wedding items: the booze. In the grocery store we bought local beers to have in a cute red bucket I had bought on the way up at Wal-Mart. As we were strolling through the alcohol aisles, I got a call from the rental company about our delivery. We had requested Thursday, but instead they were going to come on Wednesday. I OK’ed the change (even though I would not be there to supervise) and decided that Nana could definitely handle it herself. Earlier was better, because it would give us more time to set up.
We had been hearing about an impending Hurricane for a while, but I wrote it off. Hurricanes are always blown out of proportion in the Northeast, and then they die out by the time they make it up here. In fact, the Labor Day weekend of 2010 there was going to be a big hurricane in Maine. It ended up raining lightly overnight. Needless to say, I was not worried and I couldn’t understand why everyone else was getting so bent out of shape about it. But as we watched the news on Friday night and Saturday morning, it appeared that Irene was as bad as the meteorologists claimed. And contrary to normal weather patterns, she was actually gaining strength. There was a family down the street hosting a tented wedding, and I felt bad for them. I thought to myself, “Thank God my wedding isn’t today!” who knew that might have been better?
So the flatlander contingent decided it was best to head home on Saturday night and avoid the worst of the storm that was predicted to strike CT around noon on Sunday. We were only 20 minutes outside of Fryeburg when it started to rain, but we made it home without issue. I picked up Dan from his Bachelor party weekend and headed home with my dogs. It was midnight, a week before my wedding, and all was well.
When we woke on Sunday morning, our power had already been out for a few hours. It was raining really hard and the wind was forcing itself through the trees. I admit that I was actually a bit scared. They said the worst of the storm would hit around noon, but it was only 8 and it looked bad outside. We have city water, so we weren’t too worried about the outage. Dan and I both took hot showers that morning and since it had been unseasonably cool that weekend, we weren’t concerned about not having AC either.
What I did worry about was getting all the rest of my to-do list done without power. Because of the storm it was pretty dark in the house, and obviously without power I couldn’t sew anything. So I did my best and started working on the jewelry I intended to give to the bridesmaids, and to my cousins who would be my ceremony musicians. The storm howled on outside, but by 4:00 p.m. it was over. We went to bed that night without power. About 800,000 other CT residents were in the same predicament.
Monday morning I learned that my office was without power, so I was happy to have an extra day off to get things done. I drove to my Moms in Columbia, where being out of power is a much bigger ordeal (no water!) and we went over the remaining items on my list. Her sister in Willimantic had power, so we could do some sewing there. Mom also planned on bringing laundry there so I gladly handed over a bunch of to-do’s that required power. I had arranged to meet my friend Amy at the lake and get some sun for a few hours before I had to go to Guilford and pick up my dress. I still am not sure how Amy was able to make it to CT from Atlanta on the previous Friday night. Diana’s sister Debbie had her flight from AZ canceled on Saturday morning, and was unable to get another flight out until Wednesday night!
So I was sitting out under the sun when I received the call that I didn’t take seriously enough at the time. It was my Mom, she had just gotten off the phone with my Nana who reported that the river had risen to just below the hill in the back of the barn, so my wedding site was surely under at least a foot of water.
Repeat: wedding site under a foot of water.
And to make matters worse, our delivery day of Wednesday now seemed uncomfortably early. My Mom said she had been in touch with the rental company and that they didn’t seem very willing to give us more time to allow the field to dry up. I don’t know why, but I didn’t panic. Maybe I figured the water would recede in time… or maybe, I was so scared and clueless that I couldn’t panic. Yah, I’d say it was the latter. Nevertheless, I remained calm and reported to Dan (via text) and to Amy what had happened because of the hurricane. I was too scared of the anticipated reaction to tell Diana, so I remained calm and sat in the sun pondering my options. There wasn’t a ton of time for pondering because I still needed to be in Guilford by 5 to pick up my dress – the shop would only be open for an hour or two because they didn’t have power either.
I borrowed the Jeep from Dan’s parents and made my way southwest. I called my Nana who seemed fairly calm about the whole rising river thing. That reassured me quite a bit… she said that her and Papa would try and drive down there either that night or tomorrow morning to see just how bad of shape everything was in. She said the water had receded so I took a deep sigh of relief. “It will all be fine” I kept telling myself. The forecast was hot and sunny and I assumed the field would dry out. I also assumed that the rental company would give us a break and reschedule the delivery. I never met a situation that couldn’t be somehow renegotiated and rearranged if you just asked nicely.
With the dress in the back of the Jeep, I drove back to Columbia to drop it with my parents. On Monday night, we went to bed without power once again.
Much to my dismay, my office had power on Tuesday, so I reported for duty. Obviously not a whole lot of work got done. I was on the phone with my Mom, and then the rental company. I was in complete shock when the rental company just outright refused to change the delivery date. I begged and pleaded. I asked if we could contact other renters and switch delivery times with them. But the answer was always no. They were completely unwilling to budge.
So I went in my car and cried. For a long time.
Then I called my Nana and begged for some good news. She said that the road wasn’t in great shape, but the field seemed dry and maybe, just maybe they could set up the tent on Wednesday morning. So I clung to that hope and went back to work.
Apparently at some point, the rental company called my Grandfather and asked him if he thought the road was passable. The rental company then told my Mom and I that Papa said it would be ok. This gave me great hope because I know my Grandfather well, and he is not the type to give you any glimmer of hope if it isn’t 100% true. So I went on with the day thinking that things might work out.
I planned my speech. It was going to start with me holding up Betsy’s black ribbon that she had given me at my shower. Attached to it was a note that said “hope that the things that go wrong on your day are as insignificant as the things that went wrong for me.” The roll of ribbon was supposed to be wrapped around one of the layers of her cake, but the baker had forgotten to do it. So I would hold up the ribbon, relate that story and then launch into all the things that had gone wrong; from Diana’s myeloma diagnosis to the hotel disasters, rehearsal dinner issues, Hurricane Irene and all of the other little things in between that seemed like a never-ending headache to me. Then, after listing all of those things (which I did write down so I wouldn’t forget) I would smile and say something about how it ended up being a beautiful day (which in my head, I never doubted) and how it made me realize that the important thing was that everyone was able to come, and that no matter what went wrong, Dan stood by me and said, “you worry too much about these little things.” And that when my facebook status said, “you can’t always get what you want” Dan had written, “if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need… and that’s me.” Right there for everyone in the world with internet access to see.
Surely, everyone would applaud that speech… it was a good one.
But later on that night, back in the real world, we were still wrestling with what to do about the rental company. Apparently, they lied about what my Papa said. Apparently, the truth was that he said he would drive them down Wednesday morning in the Jeep and that they could evaluate whether or not they wanted to drive down with the tents and the rest of the stuff. I wanted to let them drive down and get stuck… so as to teach them a lesson about listening to their customers. But that’s not really the grown-up thing to do, I guess.
My Nana was in a panic and calling my Mother and me, back and forth trying to figure out what to do if they couldn’t get down there. Should they drop everything at the farm and we could bring it down later? Should he take the tent down with the guys in the pickup and try to set it up? Could we still cancel the tent? Could I rent a tent from another company that would come and deliver on Saturday? We just kept going around and around with different plans and ideas about how to make this all work.
All I could do was think about all of the people who had worked so hard to make it nice down at my Grandparent’s. All of the sweat that went into getting that field ready, the farmer who agreed to plant rye instead of corn that year. The road. I felt like that strong commitment from everyone around me was tying my hands. How could we not have it in the field after all of that? And so then I would cry again, every time I thought about it.
The one bright spot on the day was that we finally got power back around 3:00 p.m. So when I got home from work I looked online at the weather. It called for rain on Sunday.
At that point, I made the executive decision to have either everything or nothing. “If they can get down there, set up down there… if not, bring everything to the Fairgrounds and we will run with Plan B” I told my Nana. It felt good to make the decision and stop the merry-go-round in my head. But I knew the odds were still were stacked against me. We had the AC on as I climbed into bed on Tuesday night, but I’d be a liar if I told you that I got any sleep.