Sunday, September 11, 2005

5: Those Wedding Bells

When last we spoke about our displacement by Hurricane Katrina, we were on our way to Huntsville, AL. There we stayed two nights with Susan’s cousin Fred and his lovely wife Becky. It was a very pleasant visit including a lunch with Fred’s sister, Betty, an enthusiastic liberal activist. (It has been a while since I encountered one of those).

By then we had solidified our habit of ending our day with CNN’s 9-to-11 p.m. coverage of the hurricane aftermath. This has been as compelling theater as coverage of the 9/11 tragedy, Clinton’s legal and moral difficulties, and (for you fellow old-timers) the Watergate hearings.

Then it was on to Memphis for the wedding of my niece, Loni, to a terrific young man named Stacy Harrell. Loni is pretty terrific herself, my oldest niece, and a real live wire.

The wedding was originally scheduled for September 9, 2005 in New Orleans. The ceremony was to be at Sacred Heart Church with the reception at the Botanical Garden at City Park.

For all the elegance of the setting, the 300+ guests knew it would be a great party, because Alan and Mona know how to entertain. Alan is my eight-year younger brother, as sweet and generous a guy as you will ever find. His wife Mona is a beautiful lady, and a really “can do” kind of person. The most frequently spoken question on our side of the family is “What does she see in Alan?” I jest, of course.

Then, 11 days before the wedding, Hurricane Katrina decided to scramble these meticulously developed plans. The aftermath of Katrina meant that we were several months from a wedding in New Orleans, so Mona took her show on the road. Memphis is where Loni and Stacy work, and where many of their friends are, and so Memphis it is.

The wedding and accompanying events, products of just over a week of planning, were perfect. Loni found essentially the same bridal dress in Memphis. Bridesmaids, most of whose dresses “drowned” in New Orleans, all wore black dresses.

What was even more remarkable was the guest list. None of the N.O.-area guests were still at home, thanks to Katrina. Alan and Mona had to track down invited guests who were scattered around the southeast, with a cell phone system that worked only marginally, to inform them of the changes in plans.

For the distant guests, air reservations had to be changed; the airlines were most cooperative. The Peabody Hotel, Memphis’ finest, did an incredible job of pulling it all together. And the most important guests were all there to celebrate together.

The newlyweds’ story made the front page of the Memphis newspaper yesterday.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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