By Linda Galway
Freelance Writer

Did the groom faint? Did the bride fall? Did the money tree catch on fire? For all the planning and preparation, some things on your wedding day just can’t be predicted or prevented.
One of my cousins tied the knot in the aftermath of a hurricane that knocked out power to most of the Twin Cities. Family and guests scrambled to find any place that could accommodate their water and power needs, and the reception ran on partial lights from a generator.
At my own wedding, it seems an uncle on my husband’s side and a guest on mine had an unpleasant history involving a vehicle many years before, and a verbal confrontation erupted. Others stepped in to separate the two offenders before it escalated to fisticuffs. At the time we were appalled, but through the years we’ve come to think of it as just another blip on the radar of life.
Lewiston residents Karen (Martel) and Dave Bernier were married on Dec. 16, 1972 – during one of the year’s most powerful Nor’Easters.
“When we decided to get married in December, we knew there was always the possibility of a snowstorm,” she admitted.
They didn’t have much time to prepare for their wedding nor did they have the luxury of setting the date for a more moderate season of the year.
“David had joined the National Guard, and we didn’t know when he would have to go for basic training,” Karen explained. They had become engaged the previous December, but couldn’t plan for a wedding because of the uncertaintyof his schedule.
“Finally, at the beginning of November, his commanding officer said, ‘I can tell you that you won’t be sent in December,’ so that’s how we ended up with the date. We did worry a little about the weather, but we were optimistic and said we’d deal with it, but we weren’t ready for a Nor’Easter.”
Working around another couple who had booked St. Patrick’s Church and the same restaurant for the same day, the Martel-Bernier nuptials were slated for 9 a.m. with an early reception to follow at The Steer House.
Karen recalled hearing the word “snow” a couple of days prior to the wedding; then the word “Nor’Easter” began creeping into the forecast. Her brother, a Catholic priest whose parish was in Biddeford, was to perform the ceremony. He had arranged for his choir to sing at the wedding, and the organist had composed a special song for the couple.
“It was to be a pretty formal wedding,” she said, “and we had 90 people coming. At the rehearsal, it was spitting snow. I woke up around 5 or 6 the next morning, and it was snowin’ and blowin’,” she said. At the time, Karen lived on Tarr Avenue, off Sabattus Street out toward No Name Pond, but Dave lived near Bates College, much closer to the church.
“At some point, I remember my mother saying, ‘What are we going to do?’ and I said, ‘I think we should call the Public Works,’ so I did and talked to Roger Pruneau, the director.”
Karen believes she may have been a bit hysterical because the storm was in full force, but he calmly replied, “We’ll just send someone up.”
“My brother and the organist made it, but the choir didn’t,” she said, “and 75 guests were there. I’ve always been thankful to Roger Pruneau. He saved the day.”
She arrived at the church about 20 minutes late, “and David was pretty relieved. There were no cell phones then, and he didn’t know what was going on. Had there been an accident? Were we stuck in the snow?”
Karen describes her wedding as “wonderful, absolutely wonderful. We made it to the Steer House, and when we left a little after one o’clock, the sun came out. It was beautiful, and then things didn’t seem all that bad. What we went through to get married. . . well, it’s made a wonderful story.”

Editor’s note: Do you have a wedding blooper story to tell? We are interested in publishing stories about the unplanned events that happen at weddings; the event may not seem funny at the time, but later, as in this story, the event gets placed in the “Let me tell you what happened at my wedding” category. Please send your contact information to Leo Baillargeon at [email protected] or call 689-2996.


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