July 13, 2007 12:00 PM


As Sarah and Ian Kellogg posed for pictures after their Sept. 9, 2006, wedding, the sun was shining almost too brightly. “The photographer said, ‘I wish a cloud would come up,'” recalls Sarah. If ever there was a time to be careful what you wish for, this was it. “A half hour later we had this huge storm,” says Sarah. “It was literally like a wall of water.” That’s when the power went out at the Pine Island, N.H., lake house where the reception was being held. That meant no stove, no lights and no working toilets. Still, the bride and groom managed to improvise. “The caterer used a gas grill and scattered our candle centerpieces around the room,” says Sarah, 25. “We danced our first dance to music from a boom box.” When the lights came back on as the party was winding down, no one even cared, says Ian, 26. “Everybody said it was the most memorable and intimate wedding they’d ever been to. We didn’t miss out on anything.”


When Meghan McCoy asked her brother to carry her down the aisle for her July 29, 2006, wedding in Portsmouth, N.H., “everyone thought it was just me being quirky,” recalls the bride, now 26. Few knew that just before entering the church, McCoy had taken a tumble in her 3 1/2 inch heels, severely spraining her ankle and tearing several ligaments. “She had this really emotional look on her face,” says the groom, Lauren Cote, 30. “At the time I thought she was just worked up about marrying me, and here she was in excruciating pain.” McCoy put on a brave face until she heard, “You may kiss the bride.” Then it was straight to the emergency room, where doctors gave her special, speedy treatment. Guests meandered around the reception hall until the newlyweds returned from the hospital an hour later. To everyone’s surprise, McCoy was still in the mood to party and hobbled through the first dance with the aid of her new crutches. “I thought, ‘This is the only wedding I’m going to have, so I might as well just laugh about it,'” she says. “The great thing is that no one could complain about anything at the wedding when the bride was on crutches. And everyone came to visit us, so we actually got to eat food at the reception. It ended up being a great day.”


On April 15 Keisha Jackson was making the final preparations for her wedding the next day. But when a massive storm blew in and flooded parts of her town of Bound Brook, N.J., it was clear Mother Nature had other plans. “The water started to rise two blocks away,” says Jackson, 29, who escaped to a nearby Presbyterian church with fiancé Jonathan Denman and her two sons. “The kids were scared, but we had to leave straightaway with a bag and nothing else.” The next day, as she and Denman, 24, sat in the church lamenting their canceled nuptials, the minister overheard them and said, “I can marry you.” Although they’d left their rings in the apartment, Keisha had stashed her marriage license in her purse. They exchanged vows in the church office. “All we had was what we were wearing: T-shirts, jeans and sneakers. But it really didn’t matter,” says Keisha. “Everyone had their lives—that was the important thing.”


Despite raindrops and gusting winds, Valerie Langley’s Oct. 27 ceremony on the beach in Clearwater, Fla., was the wedding of her dreams. Her reception at a local hotel, however, had all the makings of a nightmare. “As soon as we rolled up, we saw smoke billowing from the hotel,” she says. “Flames were coming right off the building.” Langley, 25, and her new husband, Craig Eissler, 24, were greeted by the sight of a dozen fire trucks and hordes of guests milling around in the streets. “I thought, ‘We’re really not going to have a reception,'” she says. “My heart was sinking.” But a quick-thinking pal helped the couple kick off the festivities outside. “A friend brought a guitar and started singing and playing right in front of the hotel,” she says. “We sang ‘Disco Inferno.'” An hour later, with the fire out and damage confined to another part of the hotel, the newlyweds and their 120 guests continued the party inside the ballroom. “We are happily, happily married,” says Langley. “That’s the only thing that matters to me.”


Four days before their wedding, Ron Stevenson and Huntleigh Thompson found out their reception at a Florida yacht club would be competing against a Grand Prix car race next door. “At first I was freaking out,” says Thompson. “I worked nearby, so I know that it gets quite loud—but we spent all this money to have the wedding on this day, so we were kind of stuck with it.” Although the juxtaposition of events was odd, the engines’ roaring ultimately didn’t kill the ambience. “The reception was on the second floor, and with the deejay, I think that helped us out,” says Thompson. Another bonus: “The race car drivers saw us taking pictures in front of the yacht club, and they were like, ‘Do you want to come in?’ They let us walk onto the track. It was really cool.” Still, Thompson’s not quite ready for a victory lap. “Everyone’s saying we have to go to the Grand Prix for the first anniversary,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Slow down!’ I’m not sure if I’d want to do that so soon!”


After their October 2006 wedding, Melody Hansen and her husband, Nat, planned for a relaxing southwest-style honeymoon, including a road trip, camping and a short stay at a quaint motel in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. It didn’t work out that way. On the third day of their trip, the pair returned to their motel to find their room ransacked and both their suitcases missing. Along with their clothing for the rest of the trip, thieves took priceless keepsakes from their courtship and wedding—including Melody’s unique orange wedding dress, years’ worth of love letters and their biggest loss: two hand-carved and painted wooden wedding-cake toppers meticulously made in their image by Nat’s father. “They were in this little velvet box that said, ‘Do not open,'” says Melody, 29. “I ran outside into the desert and started yelling, ‘Bring back those cake toppers if you have any decency!'” Over the next few days the couple searched area pawnshops and garbage bins, but ultimately gave up on finding their stuff. Still, they looked for the silver lining. Their sad adventure “felt very cool and newlywed,” says Nat, 29. “It was like, ‘You and I are in this together, and we’ll deal with this ourselves.’


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