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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 stories of matrimonial mayhem.

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., missed only one factor — the once-every-17-years infestation of cicadas. “I'm not talking about a few pesky insects,” says Karen Rosenthal Schneider, sales manager with Edison, N.J.-based Miller's Rentals. “I'm talking about millions of these beetle-like creatures, each about 2 inches long with gigantic red eyes and yellow legs, swarming down 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 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 nightmare wedding courtesy of a penny-pinching bride. “Most customers take our advice and book vendors we suggest — but not Bride C, for ‘Cheap,’” Ott says. “She brought in the caterer from hell and the decorator who had never seen a flower let alone knew how to arrange one. And the ‘band’ was an iPod fed into an obnoxious-size radio.”


The clueless caterer showed up only 30 minutes before the wedding. “The caterer forgot the 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 help 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 with his name and phone number, asking that I refer him to my customers,” Ott says.

Sometimes the guests themselves resolve potential problems. Dan Hooks, CERP, head of Party Reflections in Charlotte, N.C., remembers the wedding of a National Basketball Association player who got into a fight with a fellow player accused of staring at the bride a little too long. “The 80-by-90-foot air-conditioned tent was filled to capacity when the fight started, but the seas quickly parted as the large gentlemen were whisked off the dance floor by several other large NBA players,” Hooks recalls. “Luckily, nothing was hurt except for some pride, so they continued to party into the night.”


While things stayed cool at that wedding, Philip Silverman of Raphael's Party Rentals of San Diego worked on a hot one.

“It was an August wedding, and the clients fought with us to have a clear-top tent for the evening reception,” he recalls. “The day of the wedding, it was 108 degrees outside, making it about 130 degrees inside the tent. The vinyl dance floor melted and all the florals died within one hour. Going to the {supermarket} for florals and replacing the dance floor was a nightmare — and then trying to charge the client was another story.”

Wedding wackiness will continue this summer. Thanks to brides obsessed with lucky numbers, “July 7, 2007, is becoming a crazy wedding date,” notes Eddie Redman, consultant with Bellevue, Wash.-based Grand Event Rentals. “I even have a bride getting married at 7:07 p.m. on 7/07/07.”


Grand Event Rentals, 425/462-7368; Marquee Rents, 512/491-7368; Miller's Rentals, 732/985-3050; Newtown Party Rentals/Open Aire Affairs, 215/860-0819; Party Reflections, 704/332-8176; Raphaels Party Rentals, 858/689-7368

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