When weddings go wrong: How to survive the unexpected

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Missing rings, a late priest, a screaming flower girl — a million things can go wrong at a wedding. These brides and grooms survived the unexpected and lived to tell the tale. 

During times of stress, it’s best to remember what’s important, said Vanessa Piccorossi, a parishioner of Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington. “Something will probably go wrong, but in the end, you’ll be married to each other and that’s what matters,” she said. “And if something goes wrong, you’ll have a great story.”

False alarm

As the couple said, “I do,” police shut down the street outside the church and brought in bomb-sniffing dogs. Earlier, a friend of the bride transported the bridesmaids’ purses from their hotel to the wedding reception venue, also near the church, St. Peter on Capitol Hill. But one purse fell off the cart onto the sidewalk. “Apparently some Capitol Police found it and it looked suspicious to them, and they had to determine whether or not it was a bomb,” said bride Anna Rose Gellert. 

Once they realized the purse wasn’t a bomb, they went through it and found the bridesmaid’s ID. Guessing it might belong to someone at the wedding, the police entered St. Peter and discreetly approached a guest who brought them to an usher. During Communion, the usher slipped toward the front of the church and grabbed the bridesmaid. After questioning her outside, they let her go back to the church before the wedding was over. 

“She came and went without me even noticing,” said Gellert. “The whole thing is so funny to me. I get the idea of a bomb isn’t funny but it happened so innocently.” She was grateful for the professionalism of the police and that her usher kept a cool head. “It’s nice to have good friends,” she said.

That’s what it’s all about

Vanessa Piccorossi and her husband, Michael, were married at Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria on what started at a sunny autumn day. Unbeknownst to the couple, the weather was about to change. 

After the ceremony, the celebration continued at the parish hall. They ate Italian food, cut the cake and greeted their guests. The couple’s first dance was “The Hokey Pokey,” and everyone joined in. “We had a strong family and friend support network and we wanted to include them in our first dance,” she said.

But after the band finished its first set, the power went out. “A line of storms moved through the area, spawning snow showers, wind gusts as high as 82 miles per hour, and thunder,” she said. “We managed to continue the celebration, lighting all available candles. Our young nieces and nephews held a very short-lived carrot cookout over the flames.”

Once they realized the power wasn’t coming back, the couple and guests headed home early. Her stepfather even had to clean by candlelight. 

“We look upon the storm that blew in during our reception as a positive force. We recently celebrated our 23rd anniversary,” Piccorossi said. “You can weather any storms as long as you are honest with each other, open to listening and you know that hard times don't last very long. In the end, you're stronger for it."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

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