Five Alarm Fire

“Love is a burnin’ thing,
It makes a fiery ring.
Bound by my desires,
I fell into a ring of fire.”
Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash

After my first meeting with Sarah and Billy, I knew that this wedding was going to be a roller coaster. She was probably in her late 30s and he in his early 30s. She already had two children, and he was not the father. Sarah definitely wore the pants in the relationship.

Sarah knew exactly what she wanted to happen at her wedding reception during our first meeting which took place about two years prior to the wedding day. A month later, when we met again, everything changed. Then three months later, a complete change again. I do not like to use pencils, they always smudge, but I found that anytime I had an appointment with Sarah I automatically reached for a pencil because I knew something was going to change. At one point, we had to change the whole bridal party because they all had an intervention with her about how controlling and demanding she was and that they were through with it. Hello, red flag! Of course they were all just jealous of the love that she and Billy had and she had SO many friends it would be easy to find replacements.

This will be a wedding that will always stick out in my mind. Why? Because it was themed. My only experience with themed weddings at this point had been watching “A Wedding Story” on TLC. Sarah and Billy wanted a firefighter themed wedding. Nope, this wasn’t a birthday party for Sarah’s four year old son; you read correctly, this is for their wedding. Maybe the “Volunteer Firefighters Do It For Free” T-shirt the groom to be was sporting should have tipped me off, but sitting at the table it was like a backdraft swept through the room and took my breath away.

A firefighter themed wedding. What do I know about a firefighter wedding? Thinking that maybe the theme would change the next time we had a meeting, I didn’t put too much thought into it except having the bride and groom arrive at the wedding reception in a fire engine. I guess I wrote this down only because I never thought that it would be allowed. I mean what would happen if there was an actual fire and the fire truck was joy riding around town. I can see the head lines now. “Million Dollar Homes Burn So That Bride Could Make A Red Hot Entrance.”

Well, apparently, volunteer firefighters have a lot of pull in the department. We had the fire truck on loan for the arrival of the bride and groom. I shared the news at our meeting. “Sarah, Billy, great news! We have a fire truck secured for your wedding reception to bring you to the party!” Yes, I successfully accomplished my first theme wedding. “All of your guests know you are a firefighter, so I was thinking we could use red flowers, black linens, and make it very elegant and incorporate colors associated with firefighting.” I was proudly patting myself on the back for making a “themed” wedding as classy as possible on the budget we were working with, but not going too cheesy like four year old birthday party with fire trucks, helmets, hoses, etc. When I looked across the table smiling at Sarah and Billy, their blank stares indicated that they either hated the ideas or that I was now speaking fluent German. “And what else?” Sarah finally said.

OK, your inner Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, and James Taylor. They all sang about fire, how can we make it work? "Ring of Fire” Nah. “Standing Outside The Fire?” Definite possibilities, firefighters try to keep people standing outside the fire. “Fire and Rain.” Yes! Mix some blues in the color scheme, maybe smoke, fire and water?

“I know!” Billy says. I was relieved because at least they were talking to me and I wasn’t fired. “Let’s use our fire hose,” Hmmmmmm. Really? Interesting idea. “And fire protection gear.” Billy continued. Waiting for a reaction from the mousey bride, I bit my lip. “Please say no, please say no, please say no” I chanted in my head. “I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!” she squeaked. “That’s why I love you! Isn’t he great!” she gushed. Seriously? You want fire hose, helmets, boots, and toy trucks at your wedding? Ok, to each his own right?

Decor and color scheme. Check!

When it came to guests and food, I have never been involved in such a harebrained scheme in my whole life. The bride wanted to have a wedding reception and wedding that maxed out the reception hall and church. She wanted no less than 500 guests. Great! The more the merrier! Well, except for the fact that dear little Sarah only wanted to actually serve dinner to thirty guests, just close family and friends.

After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I tried logic and reason to get Sarah to understand this was not acceptable. You cannot feed only a small fraction of your guests! “Well,” she says very matter-of-factly, “it is not like we aren’t going to give them anything.” Phew! Maybe she just wanted a private dining room for those thirty guests and I misunderstood. They will definitely do some food for the other 470 guests. It is the only thing to do, who only serves 30 people at a wedding. “We will have the bar open while the others are waiting for us to eat.” As she smiled at me and tapped her acrylic nails accented with “diamonds,” All I could hear was my mom’s voice run through my head. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” So I smiled back at her, meanwhile my brain was moving a mile a minute. “You can’t do this! You can’t serve only 30 guests!” I wanted to scream at her, but I couldn’t.

“Great!” she says “Thanks for your time! We will talk to you soon.” And off into the sunset drove the volunteer fireman and his blushing bride to be.

Stunned and Speechless,

The I Do Expert

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