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How a wedding nearly became casualty of storm


A funny thing happened on my way to the wedding altar to say I do.

God in his heaven said, "Not this week, you don't."

On the night of Friday, March 12, he commenced to make it snow. And when he saw what he had done, he made it snow some more on Saturday, taking no apparent note that my wedding was scheduled for the next day, Sunday, and that we'd asked him to attend.

"They're saying it's gonna be a bad one," I told my bride-to-be, the former Suzy Ricklen.

"They always say that," she declared, muttering of dark conspiracies between the weather forecasters and the supermarkets, where people line up like Russians at all predictions of snow.

We turned on the television and heard darkest reports: The storm of the century, they were calling it.

"Exaggeration," said my future bride, though the future part of it was beginning to stretch somewhat.

"A snowstorm of biblical proportions," said Accu-Weather.

"Biblical proportions?" said my eventual bride. "Whoever wrote that line obviously hasn't spent much time in the Holy Land."

By Saturday morning, it was looking grim. We hadn't planned a very big wedding, as these things go, but big enough that considerations had to be made: We'd hired a caterer, a photographer, a room, a rabbi. We'd invited guests. Could everyone reschedule?

I called WJZ-TV, where they were running a special snow broadcast Saturday, to ask for some professional weather insight.

"Hang on a minute," said Marty Bass, co-anchoring the show, "and we'll put you on the air with us."

"No, I just . . ."

An instant later, with much of the greater Baltimore area listening in, I was explaining that I was getting married the next day and needed to know if I should cancel.

"I know you must be excited," said Richard Sher. "in fact," he added, knowing of my sartorial instincts, which lean toward early attic, "I heard you got a suit for the occasion. Rented, right?"

Postpone the wedding, they said.

"I don't care what they said," declared my anxious bride. "I'm going."

"No," declared God, "you're not."

Reluctantly, we began making frantic phone calls. Yes, we could have the room at Government House, on Calvert Street, the following week. Yes, Classic Catering could reschedule. Yes, the photographer, Bob Stockfield, could make it.

But, no, the rabbi could not.

And so we called another rabbi. And entire congregations of rabbis as the days passed. Sorry, every one. Already booked.

"We get turned down by one more rabbi," said Suzy, "and we're converting."

All rabbis in North America seemed to be busy. By midweek, when we finally got one who wasn't, he came down with bronchitis. He'd try to make it, he rasped, but we'd better get a backup rabbi, just in case.

We tracked one down in Potomac, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, whose brother Bobby is an old friend of my bride's. Delicately, we explained that we had a rabbi but we wouldn't know until the next day if he could make it.

"I could squeeze it in," said Rabbi Weinblatt. "Just call me tomorrow and let me know for sure."

Now it was Thursday, and the other rabbi's bronchitis hadn't quit. Suzy called Rabbi Weinblatt's office, got his secretary, who said she'd give him the message: We needed him on Sunday.

Finally, we sighed with relief.

Until Saturday evening, the night before the wedding, when we didn't.

"You have a problem," said Adrianne Weinblatt, Bobby's wife. "It's the rabbi."

Minutes after getting Suzy's confirmation call, his secretary got sick. She never gave the rabbi the message. Now, by chance, he'd telephoned his brother Bobby Saturday evening to wish him a belated happy birthday.

"See you at the wedding tomorrow," said Bobby.

"What are you talking about?" said the rabbi.

Anyway, Sunday, there we finally were: the bride looking lovely, the groom in a new-bought suit, the guests thrilled because they hadn't had to plow their way to the wedding.

"Michael," said Rabbi Weinblatt, as he gave us the vows, "I never knew the lengths you'd go to just to get a column."

Or to get a bride, either.

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