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Garters and gators: Wacky wedding stories

Beautiful brides, gracious guests, fabulous food--that's what weddings are made of. That, and cicada infestations, alligators and clueless caterers. Party rental pros have seen some wacky weddings, and here they share their war stories.

Damon Holditch, CSEP, CERP, head of Marquee Rents in Austin, Texas, recalls a wedding he serviced last year on a picturesque ranch near the Texas Gulf Coast. An alert ranch hand spotted a 6-foot alligator in a pond on the property and, to protect guests and livestock, captured it. The mother of the bride gave the order to bring the gator into the reception tent, and "the entire reception went wild," Holditch reports. "Then the gator left and the dancing resumed."


Two years of planning for the "tented wedding of the year" in Princeton, N.J., failed to include only one factor--the once-every-17-years infestation of cicadas. "I'm not talking about a few pesky insects," says Karen Rosenthal Schneider of Edison, N.J.-based Miller's Rentals. "I'm talking about millions of these beetle-like creatures, each about two inches long with gigantic red eyes and yellow legs, swarming down on the entire Eastern Seaboard for an entire month." For days preceding the wedding, the grounds crew at the venue--a historic mansion--came with wheelbarrows to cart away the fallen carcasses, Schneider reports. But the bride's family kept their sense of humor: "They even had custom cookies in the shape of a cicada placed at each guest setting," Schneider says.

Larry Ott, with Newtown Party Rental and Open Aire Affairs in Newtown, Pa., recalls a clueless caterer who showed up only 30 minutes before the wedding. "The caterer forgot the following: chafing dishes, flatware, trash bags and over half the staff actually needed to service a wedding for over 200 guests," Ott says. Ott's staff stayed on site to try to make up for the caterer's shortcomings. In a final touch of irony at the end of the event, "The caterer walked up to me with a Post-it note holding his name and phone number, asking that I refer him to my customers," Ott says. "Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do, but then a bride will come in that makes my job a cakewalk."

For the full story, see "Rental Essentials" in the April issue of Special Events Magazine.

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