Every wedding has its memorable moments. Some are planned… others less so. When my aunt Amy Williams got married, there were quite a few of those memorable moments. Most of them were of the unplanned category. This month, I asked my mom, Stephanie Snyder—my aunt’s sister and the matron of honor at the wedding—to give her version of the eventful occasion.
“The engagement happened in August 2017, and then my sister, Amy, and her fiancé, Colin, began to think through the details of their big day. Initially, there was nothing unusual in their planning, except that they had only 5 months to pull it all together. That was our fault. We were moving to Thailand at the beginning of the year, and they wanted us to be in the wedding. Then, just a few weeks before the blessed occasion, my sister was told that her wedding had been chosen to be featured on a new reality television show called I Want THAT Wedding! She wasn’t quite sure how it happened, but she worked in Hollywood for many years and had a lot of friends in the entertainment industry. In any case, the event was sure to be a wild ride.
“On the morning of January 13, family and friends who’d traveled to the small beach town of Dana Point, California readied themselves for the big event. Hair and makeup were labored over, dresses were ironed, and shoes were shined among the wedding party, which gathered early for pictures on the grounds of a nearby resort. After an hour of posing in different configurations at different spots, everyone but our immediate family headed to the church. Just as the photographer was about to take our family photo, my mom, dehydrated and out of breath from running, fainted.
“This was not one of those planned moments. Though she revived quickly, my mom remained on the grass, and Amy, in her full white gown, crouched next to her. Just then, a car drove up to take the bride to the church. Reluctantly, she ran to the car, yelling, ‘I’m not getting married without you!’ Then there we were; the parents of the bride and six members of the wedding party standing, kneeling, and lying awkwardly alone on a hill while the televised wedding was about to start. Alone, that is, until a fire engine pulled up with lights flashing. My mom, already feeling undignified as she sprawled on the grass in her sequined dress, was not overjoyed at their arrival (or with my brother, who had called them).
“Thankfully, the medics were quickly able to rule out any serious issues, and we rushed to the church just in time for the proceedings to begin. Initially, I was caught up in the frenzy of helping my three daughters, the junior bridesmaids, into their spots. It was not until they were safely down the aisle and I was rounding the corner to enter the camera-filled sanctuary myself that the gravity of the situation hit me. My too-high heels nearly got caught up in my too-long skirt, and I suddenly had visions of tragedy. It’s one thing to trip and fall in front of a church full of guests, but quite another to roll down the aisle, entangled in tulle, on cable television. I held my breath, smiled big, and prayed that this was not my fate.
“After that tremulous beginning, things went a little smoother. However, the presence of the camera crews, who shadowed us throughout the ceremony and reception, was always felt. My sister and brother-in-law were wired with microphones so that every word they spoke was recorded. And just in case you didn’t know, along with holding the bride’s bouquet at different moments during the ceremony and straightening out her train frequently, microphone management was also in the realm of the matron of honor’s duties. It involved a great deal of maneuvering before the wedding started, fishing wires down through the multiple layers of wedding gown, and then strapping the wires and battery pack to the bride’s leg. Not only that, but later in the evening, it was my job to communicate with the people handling the equipment before a bathroom break to be sure that the microphone was turned off. That’s a lot of pressure.
“And, of course, I still had the matron of honor speech to navigate. I had never done one of those before, and so I was anxious enough that I hardly ate any of the delicious food served at the reception. As I nervously stood to speak, two cameramen positioned themselves 6 feet in front of me with their enormous cameras pointing my way, and I wondered if it might be my turn to faint. What I said may or may not have been coherent (I honestly don’t remember). I’m just thankful that I managed to stay upright.
“One of the perks of allowing the wedding to be televised was that the studio offered and paid for several unique wedding touches. The bride and groom did a spectacular dove release following the ceremony, and they made a grand entrance at the reception hall (which was in a marina), perched on the front of a large yacht. It was truly a magical celebration with a touch of Hollywood luster. Unlike myself, my sister and her new husband felt very much at home in front of the cameras and had a wonderful day that they—and everyone who attended—will always remember. (And then they lived happily ever after.)”