Story of Trip 2
Home Up Story of Trip 3


The Story of
Rick and Marla's Wedding

Two -
Wedding Day 2004



“Some Women Have Perfect Weddings.  I Had An Oops Wedding.” - Marla Archer

Story written by Rick Archer


Wedding Day Sunday - 6 am

I awoke with a start at 6 am on Sunday morning.  This was September 26, 2004 - my Wedding Day!  I leapt out of bed and began packing some more for the cruise.  I separated my luggage into two categories: Carry-on and Check-in.  Marla had carefully explained that whatever I needed to wear for the wedding should go into the Carry-On luggage. 

I stared at the luggage for a while.  What have I forgotten?   My tuxedo is in the carry-on.  My tuxedo shirt is in the carry-on. I knew I was missing something.  The tie and cummerbund!!   I ran to another suitcase, pulled out the box and put it with carry-on. 

Good. That was done. I am all set!

Now it was time to turn my attention to the other details like turning off air-conditioners, locking doors, food and water for the dogs, suspending my newspaper delivery, setting the email auto-responder, etc.  There was so much to keep track of I have actually developed a checklist from my previous trips.

Today was very different in one regard - I had a dozen people to worry about.  In addition to my daughter Sam, there was Marla’s daughter Marissa, Marla’s brother Larry, Marla's sister in law Roz, their daughter Shira, Marla’s brother Neil and sister in law Ellen, plus my Aunt Lynn and my mother Mary.  Some of them were in my house, some of them were at a hotel. 

It was my duty to wake up seven different people and make sure they had everything they needed!  The others I was supposed to phone.  Marla had her own things to worry about.

One person was already awake.  It was Aunt Lynn. 
Lynn had flown in from McLean, Virginia, the day before.  I was so happy to see her!   I love Aunt Lynn.  When I went to college in Baltimore, Aunt Lynn was the dear woman who singlehandedly kept me sane through all my ups and downs.  Back in those days, Aunt Lynn was half mother to me and half sister too.  These days Aunt Lynn was one of my best friends in the world.

I was about to give Aunt Lynn a big hug, but something in her face gave me concern.  Lynn was clearly worried about something.  Lynn pulled me aside. “Rick, I am so worried!  I can’t find my passport or any of my cruise documents!  I have looked everywhere three times!”  

Uh oh. 
We had just observed the third anniversary of 9-11 two weeks ago.  War was waging hot and heavy in Iraq at this time.  Homeland security was as tight as it could possibly be.  The cruise lines said in no uncertain terms you had to have your documents or stay home. 

If they took a hard line, we were out of luck.  More than likely, Lynn's documents were a thousand miles away back in Virginia. It was very early Sunday morning and we were LEAVING in one hour. There was literally NOTHING I could do about this problem but plead Lynn's case to the authorities and pray.  It was parachute time - Jump and hope the chute opens.

In the meantime, the one thing I could NOT do was tell Marla.  Both Lynn and I completely agreed on that.  Marla was a nervous wreck.  This knowledge could put her over the edge.

I actually only had to wake one person up - my daughter Sam.  Everyone else just sort of spontaneously woke up.  They immediately began asking a million questions.  Soon my mind was whizzing every which way trying to solve minor problems.  Meanwhile I was deeply worried about Lynn and her missing documents.  

It was time to check on Marla.  As I feared, Marla was a nut case. Marla is a worrier by nature, but now she was so worried about so many things she could not see straight. She was out of her mind with anxiety.  Something told her that there were too many things that could go wrong.  Marla said she had premonitions that something was bound to happen. 

I didn't dare tell her what I knew, but I muttered to myself, 'The woman really is a witch.  How does she know?' 

Ding Dong.  The doorbell rang. Sam ran to get it.  It was Gary Richardson, his lovely wife Betty, and George Grega, a mutual friend of Gary's and mine.  George was nice enough to loan us his truck to carry our D-Day quantity of luggage down to the ship. 

Ding Dong.  This time it was Mara, Marla’s best friend with the exasperating near-identical name.  Mara was to be a key player in the day’s drama. She would singlehandedly stay at Marla’s side all day long trying to calm the frantic woman down. Without Mara’s strength and patience, I believe the wedding ceremony may have required a padded room.

Ding Dong. Now It was Marla’s brother Neil and his wife Ellen. They had been staying at a nearby hotel.  They had arrived to join the caravan.

Ding Dong.  This time it was George Sargent, aka Mr. Handsome from the 2004 Mardi Gras Cruise Trip.  Somehow after all the terrible things I said about him in that story he had managed to forgive me.  George was here to lend support and give a ride to Lynn and Mary. 

Okay, the gang is here.  Passport or no passport, it was time to get the show on the road.

The Drive Down

We were 30 minutes behind schedule.  However, Marla had deliberately set an earlier time than necessary so we were okay. We could still arrive exactly at 10:30 am as planned. 

We had an impressive caravan of five cars heading down to Galveston. Marla and I were in the lead. Marissa used her car to take Sam and Shira with her.  Neil and Ellen took Larry and Roz with them in a rental car. George Sargent took Mara, Mary, and Lynn with him. George Grega took Betty and Gary with him.

Marla was a nervous wreck during the drive down. She was worried sick that something would go wrong.  Over and over she wailed, "What did I forget?  What am I missing?  We're going to be late!"  As I sat there nursing the secret about Lynn's missing passport, I wasn't feeling too hot myself. 

It took us 45 minutes to get to Galveston.  As I predicted we arrived at the pier right on time at 10:30 am with only one small problem.  Although the Rhapsody was in plain view within walking distance, it took us another 30 minutes to drive the last half-mile!! 

Royal Caribbean shares the pier with Carnival. You have to go through the Carnival section to get to the Rhapsody. Something was terribly wrong with the Carnival ship's arrival system because the traffic was horrendous. With the Rhapsody in perfect view, we just sat there behind an endless line of unmoving cars trying to get to Carnival.

The Galveston police were making it even harder for us by giving all cars coming from the parking lot priority.  Dozens of cars kept cutting in front of us as we waited behind an uncaring security guard.  We were trapped.  Marla was screaming with frustration!  She kept hollering that if we had left on time, we could have avoided this mess entirely.

You don't argue with Marla when the volcano blows.  I sat there quietly.  Truth be told, I was worried too.  We didn't have a lot of time to spare.  My stomach was tied in knots.

Madness in the Terminal

We finally we made it to Rhapsody terminal but now we really were 30 minutes behind schedule. I parked the car in the lot. I saved time by skipping waiting for the shuttle. Instead I ran back to the ship just to save time. The scene in the terminal was a madhouse.

I was pleased to see all our friends who had driven down to be part of our wedding: Sharon Crawford and Bill Shaw, Joe Lachner and Patty Harrison, Mike and Trisha Fagan, Tom and Margaret Easley, Marty and Adele Raber, MG and Gay Anseman, Marlies Whitmoyer and Shane Young, Carl and Margaux Mann, plus my friend Paul Foltyn. They were all beaming with big smiles and hugs.  Bathed in their encouragement, for a brief moment I entertained the thought that maybe this would work out okay after all. 

I was immediately snapped back to reality. The lady in charge of the wedding aboard the ship announced my daughter Samantha would not be allowed to enter the ship.


It seems I had forgotten to bring her birth certificate. Marla and I immediately pointed fingers at each other.  'You forgot the document!' 'You never told me I needed it!'  'Did too.' 'Did not!'

Apparently, due to 9/11 regulations, the ship is forced to do an identity check even on people simply boarding for the two-hour wedding ceremony.  Apparently wedding receptions are closely scrutinized to prevent an Al Quaeda operative from sneaking aboard. 

I knew dangerous guests like my Best Men Mike Fagan and Tom Easely would be heavily scrutinized.  Just one look at either of those guys and anyone would be suspicious!!  (Don't tell anyone, but I was secretly happy to know that Homeland Security was investigating both of them!)

But it hadn't dawned on me that Samantha needed an ID too. Up till now she has been relatively harmless.  This was ridiculous.

They asked me if I had a picture of her in my wallet. No, but I told them they could go see us on the Internet together. This didn't work. After all, the picture on the Internet might be a fake!

"Well, so could the picture in my wallet!" I replied. They didn't like that answer.

Did she have a student ID?  No.  Did I have any proof that she existed?  I had several choice things to say, but decided to hold my tongue for a change.

Sam searched through her purse.  Magically, Sam produced her SSQQ ID card.  Aha! Finally they discovered the needed document - Did it have her picture?  No.  But it had her name!  Okay.  Proof enough.  The absurdity of the moment crossed my mind.

30 American citizens as witnesses was not enough proof for these bozos, but an SSQQ ID card with the girl's name on it was perfect.  Unbelievable.  Gee, I hope Al Quaeda never learns about this trick.  We could have an entire SSQQ sleeper cell before we know it.

Truth be told, I always knew Samantha would eventually be allowed on. Don't ask me how I knew; I just did.  I never once took these people seriously.  They were just doing their job.  It helped, of course, that Sam was starting to tear up.  Truly dangerous people should learn this secret.  It works every time.  If a bad guy could learn to cry at the right time, he could sneak into any country.

Still, I was glad they relented without too big of a fuss.  In a way, this incident with Sam might help soften them for the main event.  My drifted back to Lynn and her missing documents.

Yes, I was really worried about Aunt Lynn. Compounding my fear was the fact that Lynn had not even appeared yet!   Lynn and my mother had driven down with George Sargent. George did not have a cell phone. We had been in the terminal for 25 minutes and there was still no sign of them. Now we were being asked to board the ship.  So where were they?  How was I supposed to get on the ship knowing that Aunt Lynn didn't have her passport??  I absolutely would not board the ship until I took care of Lynn. 

I told Marla to go ahead.  Better to spare her this added worry.  Besides, she needed every spare moment to get her hair done and let Mara help her get her wedding dress on.

Finally George, Mary, and Lynn showed up.  I had bypassed the shuttle by walking, but George didn't have that option. His shuttle bus had gotten stuck behind the Carnival traffic in a way that slowed him up much worse than the rest of us.

Lynn went to check in.  The customs and immigration agent immediately told her there was NO WAY she could get on that ship without her passport.  Her Virginia driver's license was a nice start, but not good enough. Her social security number was nice, but where was a document to prove she hadn't just made this number up?  Maybe I should have given her an SSQQ ID Card back at home.  Wish I had thought of that!

It was one thing to bend the rules so a thirteen year old girl could on the ship for three hours (Sam was in school which prevented her from going on the cruise).  However apparently it was a completely different matter letting a 75 year old woman on for a week.  Again, we were not dealing with someone who fit the danger profile, now were we?

Despite my frustration, I said nothing. I whispered to Tom Easley at what point should I turn off the nice guy act and revert to my true self.  He said 'not quite yet'.  So I behaved.

Now the poor woman was in tears. Prone to an over-active guilty conscience by nature, Lynn was deeply upset. The tears really began to flow. Lynn was so frustrated at losing that passport!

I was exasperated. I had been patient long enough.  Lynn was a grandmother several times over and she did not have a particularly threatening demeanor.  Lynn is pretty, smiles a lot, is very warm and outgoing, and not likely to be a terrorist.  Besides, she had a valid Virginia driver's license with her picture on it, she had a social security number, and she had already completed the ship's online security check. 

However, I had to hand it to them.  They were sticking to their guns.  I honestly did not know what the outcome would be. 

I also knew these people could be tough. For example, a very lovely Chinese woman named Beryl Hu had been denied entry on our Jubilee Cruise trip one year earlier due to some expired paperwork.  Beryl's new paperwork was somewhere in the mail, but had not arrived in time.  All she had was her old paperwork, but this wasn't good enough. The poor woman was literally left standing in the terminal.  She insisted that her boyfriend go anyway, so they waved to each other with tears in their eyes as our ship sailed away.

Knowing how they had treated this woman, I knew it was quite possible this could be Lynn's fate as well.  Sad to say, a happy outcome was by no means guaranteed.

In fact, at this moment it wasn't looking good. The customs man refused to bend. Lynn could not board.  He stuck to his guns firmly.  A rule is a rule. My friend Margaux Mann began to try her impressive persuasive powers on the gentleman. If anyone could change his mind, she could.  Meanwhile I considered bringing the entire wedding party over. I figured each person could take turns arguing until we wore the guy down.

Suddenly without warning they announced that Lynn was free to join us.  No explanation was given.  Magically Lynn was released to go. She could come aboard the ship and take her cruise.  This abrupt change in their attitude really took me off guard.

I was suspicious.  Had this entire ordeal just been a charade?  Why all the tough talk??  A rule is a rule!  Why no explanation as to what changed their mind?  They had been adamant for over 15 minutes that there was NO WAY THEY WOULD BEND THE RULES, but now by some miracle she was free to board.  My brow furrowed. It was as if someone had a 15 minute stop watch. They would harass the woman and make her absolutely miserable for 15 minutes as punishment, but when the time was up, she was free to go. I smelled a rat.

However, we were in a hurry so I decided not to press for an explanation. I simply accepted the good news and kept my mouth shut. But this entire affair had left me deeply suspicious.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief.  At this point, I figured the coast was clear. Little did I know as I boarded the ship that the worst was still to come.  You don't believe me?  Well, read on and decide for yourself.


Uh Oh. Did Rick Forget Something?

Marla had gone ahead of me to get her hair fixed on board the ship. I stayed behind to carry on about 8 different pieces of luggage.  Now the wedding party boarded as a group.

The first clue I had that all was not right came when I got to my room and realized my tuxedo was missing.  I had to go all the way back to the terminal. Imagine the sigh of relief I experienced when I saw my suit bag hanging there all by itself right where I had left it.  Another ten minutes went down the drain, but it could have been worse.

The morning had left me so drained.  Get married obviously required more stamina than I realized.  I needed a nap in the worst way, but that was out of the question. 

As I was getting dressed, Mara knocked on the door. I let her in so she could wait to help Marla get dressed. Actually I was glad to have her there. She helped me put on my tuxedo tie, something I have never quite figured out how to do by myself.

I took one look in the mirror. Perfect!  Except for one thing - which bag had I put my dress shoes in??  I frantically searched every bag.  No shoes. 

Oh no.  I had forgotten to pack my shoes!   Actually I had packed my shoes, but had forgotten to put them in the Carry-On bag.  I knew immediately there was no way I could get to my luggage. It was in a giant storage area with a thousand other suitcases awaiting sorting.  I could search the entire area for my luggage, but I would never find it in time.  Now what do I do?  All I had were the basketball shoes I was wearing! 

Mara suggested we call the desk. No luck. The largest shoe they had was two and a half sizes too small.  What was my next option?  I had an inspiration.  Paul.  That was the answer I needed. Paul Foltyn!!  At 6' 3", he is even taller than I am.

So I went upstairs to the Disco in search of Paul.  Bless his heart, he did not hesitate to share his shoes with me. Unfortunately his shoes were too big for me. This wasn't a problem for me, but it meant Paul could not put on my basketball shoes!  The poor man had to spend the rest of the wedding walking around in my socks.

And why didn't Paul walk around in his own socks?  Because I had to borrow Paul's socks too. Paul saved the day.  He was my hero!!

The entire situation afforded everyone some much-needed comic relief. After all the tension with the Carnival traffic and the boarding problems, we were all pretty wound up.  Did I mention everybody laughed at me?  These people clearly enjoyed my discomfort greatly.

Side Note: Nor did the teasing stop there. For the rest of the week, I heard a new variation on the socks and shoes story every day on the ship. If you believed everything you heard, I ended up wearing Paul's shoes, socks, belt, shirt, coat, tie and pants to the wedding.  In fact, someone suggested Marla simply marry Paul and save some time.  Ha ha ha.

My hero Paul, the guy who gave up his shoes so I could get married.
If you look at his feet, you will see him wearing my socks.

Did Gary Forget Something?

After I finished putting on Paul's shoes back in my cabin, I rejoined the wedding party upstairs. I was in a good mood. I teased Paul about how I could criticize him all I wanted to because I had walked a mile back and forth from my cabin to the wedding area in his shoes. Ha ha ha. Now I was making the jokes. I felt much better. Sadly, it didn't last very long.

I was waving and smiling at everyone until Gary Richardson walked up with a frown. He had that look on his face. Now what?  Gary pulled me aside.  He didn't have the music for the wedding reception.  My eyes bulged!!   What?  No music?   Where is the computer with all the songs on it? 

Gary said he had the computer, but he didn't have the speaker/amplifier that would play the music. Why not? 

Gary said as he got to the pier he had to unload dozens of pieces of luggage from George Grega's truck. Meanwhile the man helping him had been so aggressive in his demeanor that Gary got flustered.  The man kept yelling in bullet-fire fashion, "Carry-On or Check-In?" with each piece. When he got to the speaker/amplifier, Gary could only think of using it for the dance classes. He completely forgot he was going to use it for the wedding reception! 

There was no way we could retrieve it in time for the wedding.  This meant the entire hour and a half of music we had planned for our Reception was down the drain.

Don't tell anyone, but I was secretly happy I wasn't the only person to go brain-dead on the carry-on issue.  It wasn't fun being the only moron (I say that affectionately, of course). Now I had a companion. You know how misery loves company?  So do morons.

But as I thought about it more, I realized this also meant the wedding dance with Marla was doomed.  We had been practicing for months!  She would be so disappointed. Darn it.

But wait!  I had an idea.  I had some backups CDs with me that by some miracle were with my carry-on luggage. I had been making a last-minute copy of a Big Band music CD that morning and stuffed it in my carry-on bag. I knew our wedding waltz song was somewhere in the collection of CDs. The Rhapsody wedding coordinator said she had a boom box if I had the CD.  So I trekked back to the room to get our wedding music. At least this problem was solved. 

From a distance I saw Marla was making her way from our cabin to the wedding area in the Viking Crown Lounge.  I patiently waited for Marla and Mara to pass.  I cleverly averted my gaze to avoid witnessing the magnificence of "The Dress".  A wedding traditionalist, Marla had been lecturing me on this important piece of wedding etiquette. She noticed that I averted my eyes and was impressed that I remembered.

After M and M passed by, I made it to the cabin to get the music.  Then I returned to the wedding party for the THIRD TIME that morning.

I smiled.  Now it was time to get it started, yes?   Well, no.  Somebody was missing.

The Wedding Waltz

Where's Mom?

As I arrived at the Wedding Area for the third time, I need it was time to get the show on the road. We were twenty minutes late already. 

Just as the ceremony was about to begin, the Rhapsody wedding representative asked me if I wanted to escort my mother into the ceremony.

"Well, of course I would!  Thank you so much for reminding me."  Since I was behind a wall, I peeked around the corner to look at my guests. "By the way, where are you hiding her?" 

The poor man had a blank expression. He wasn't hiding my mother anywhere.

So I said, "What about my Aunt Lynn?  I don't see her either"  Another confused look.

Tom and Mike were there beside me preparing for us to enter as a threesome. I asked both men if they had seen my mother or Aunt Lynn.  Their looks were equally confused. They didn't have any idea where they were NOR HAD THEY EVEN SEEN THEM!

Now I lost it. I had patiently overcome every obstacle that life had put in my way over the past three months.  I had patiently handled every problem that had surfaced today, but this was ridiculous!!  It was 1:20 pm. The ceremony was already twenty minutes late. Where in the you-know-what were those two women!?!?!  Thank goodness I didn't say it out loud.

I guess I had better go find them.  I grabbed Mike and Tom, my best men, and asked them to come with me and help search the missing women.  What I did not realize at the time was this scenario was taking place out of sight behind a wall. This meant none our guests realized that I had even been in the wedding area. 

I knew my mother's cabin was on the eighth floor, but didn't know what the number was. Since the regular cruise guests had not boarded yet, this floor was completely deserted.  So now I proceeded to make an idiot of myself. I walked a complete rectangle around the eighth floor hollering at the top of my voice "Mom!  Lynn!  Where are you?"  I can't imagine what Tom and Mike were thinking as I bellowed my head off.  Actually, I don't want to know.

No luck.  As I passed the neverending series of closed doors, there was no answer.  Ten full minutes had been wasted running the entire circuit on Deck 8 without results. All that yelling for naught.  Now Mike and Tom suggested I go to the Purser's desk on Deck 5 and have the women paged.  Good idea!

So we raced down three floors to ask for help. This had such an unreal feel about it, I secretly wondered if I was being set up.  I actually looked around in case there was a camera filming "The Joke's On You" for some Reality TV show. Nope. This was not an episode of Punk'd.  This fiasco was on the level. 

The woman at the desk patiently looked up their names to get the cabin number. Then she calmly called their room and handed me the phone. To my shock, Lynn answered on the first ring!!  What was going on!?!

I was relieved and exasperated. Lynn answered. I breathlessly whispered, "Aunt Lynn, are you ready?  It's time for me to get married!"

Lynn answered, "Yes, of course. The ceremony is at 1 pm, right?"

I blinked. Huh? "Yes, Lynn, it's at 1 pm."

"Don't worry. We are almost ready!  We will be there at least 15 minutes early." 

15 minutes early?  She was so calm I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.  Do do do do. I looked at the clock on the wall. It read 1:40 pm.  Was I going crazy?

"Lynn, it is almost 2 pm. I am already 40 minutes late for my wedding!"

There was a gasp on the line. Then silence.  In a barely audible whisper, she said, "Come get us. We will be ready."

I sent Tom and Mike ahead to explain I was on my way, then I went to the cabin to fetch Lynn and Mary.

Side Note: It wasn't until a couple days later that I learned what had gone wrong.

While Lynn was getting grilled by the Immigration clerk, she had glanced at her watch and realized it was still set on Eastern time.... Virginia time.  Lynn decided to change her watch, but she was so flustered that she reset her watch to Mountain Time instead of Central Time.

In the complete silence of her room, Lynn thought it was an hour earlier than it really was.  Lynn and Mary had laid down and had fallen completely asleep content in the knowledge that they had an extra hour to get ready. 

Where's Rick?

It took me ten more minutes to fetch Lynn and Mary and get them on the elevator to the Viking Crown Lounge.  The wedding was now delayed by 50 minutes. 

Meanwhile, there was an unusual drama taking place that I was totally unaware of.   No one knew where I was.  Rick was missing.

When I learned my aunt and my mother were missing, I was frantic.  It never even crossed my mind that the three of us were out of sight when I got the bad news.  After all, the guests were a mere five feet away on the other side of a wall. 

However, from the point of view of the wedding party and the guests, the three men - Rick, Mike, Tom - had never even shown up for the ceremony!

Now the wedding guests and a certain bride-to-be were beginning to get worried because THE GROOM WAS MISSING! 

First the groom was 20 minutes.  That's when Rick discovered his mother was missing.  Then the groom was 30 minutes late. Then the groom was 40 minutes late. People had a right to begin to wonder what was going on.

Of course, in retrospect, if I had even the slightest presence of mind, I would have walked into the Guest area, explained what was going on, and then taken off on my wild goose chase. But that thought never crossed my mind.

As it stood, no one had a clue where I was.  In fact, the two Best Men were missing too.  For all the 30 or so Left Behinds knew, there was some serious Alien Abduction going on.  Or maybe there was another explanation... even more ominous than alien abduction.

Maybe Rick had cold feet.  Maybe Tom and Mike were trying to change his mind.  Or maybe Rick had left the boat and Tom and Mike were trying to find him. 

What utter nonsense.  Everyone knew that Rick loved Marla.  However, as each minute ticked off the clock without explanation, the unthinkable became more and more thinkable.  People were starting to get worried.  Very worried. 

Where was Rick?  Where were Tom and Mike?  Why couldn't someone explain what was going on?  The whispers between the guests reflected the growing alarm.   

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Marla was in tears. She was crying because she was afraid she was getting stood up at the altar.

I imagine you are incredulous to think Marla could have been worried about this. After seeing all these pictures of so much happiness, it might be difficult to understand how she could feel this way.

So let's visualize the scene from Marla's point of view. After arriving at the Viking Crown Lounge at 1:15 pm, Marla had been isolated from the wedding party alone with Mara, Sam, and Marissa waiting for the show to begin. 

Isolated out of view, Marla did not know about my socks and shoes adventure. Marla didn't know about Gary's wedding music problem.  All she knew was that on her way to this point, she had briefly caught a glance of me and that I had suddenly disappeared.  Marla had assumed I was trying to avoid seeing her dress, but now maybe there was a more sinister explanation. 

Marla definitely didn't know about the mystery of the missing aunt and mother either. All Marla knew was we were running late!  And later.  and later.  The wedding coordinator didn't make anything easier by asking her every five minutes where the heck was her groom.  As if Marla had some way of knowing!  Marla was beginning to wonder where I was herself.

Meanwhile I had left on my panicked search for Mary and Lynn without explaining to the wedding guests what was going on. Everyone sensed something had gone wrong.  Now one person after another came backstage to calm an increasingly jittery Marla.

Then finally there was some news.  Someone told Marla there was a rumor I had gone to look for my mother.

This sounded preposterous to Marla. Where was Rick's mother?  It was quarter till 2! The wedding was 45 minutes late. Where the heck was Rick?  Was Rick's mother trying to talk Rick out of marrying Marla?  Was Rick's mother trying to talk Rick into marrying Marla?  Marla's brain raced overtime trying to make sense of this one tiny shred of information.

Then someone said the best men Tom and Mike were missing too. They were supposed to be looking for Rick!  Now why would they be looking for Rick?   This did not sound good.

All Marla knew was she had been standing in place for over 30 minutes holding her  bouquet of flowers without any clue what was really going on.  The first thing that crossed her mind when the rumor hit that Tom and Mike were looking for her fiancé was that Rick had gotten cold feet at the last minute.

This did not look good.  Her friend Mara cheered her up and said this was all nonsense, but later on even Mara admitted the same forbidden thought had crossed her mind.

Marla started to cry. Her makeup smeared. She had to find a tissue to dab the tears.  She tried hard not to cry, but it was too much for her. She was miserable.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, with tears flowing freely, Marla got the word that Rick had magically appeared with Mother and Aunt in tow.  Marla was incredulous.  What on earth was going on?

Waiting for Rick, wondering what the heck is going on.

Marla just moments before the tears of worry broke through. 
After the Wedding when no one was looking, Marla kicked me in the butt.  Ouch!  That hurt.

When I asked her what that was for, Marla replied I deserved it
because I made her cry and because I ruined her makeup. 

Where's Rick?

The Royal Caribbean wedding guy came in and announced it was time time for Marla to get married.  A million thoughts raced through her mind, some more pleasant than others.

First she wanted an explanation.  Did Mike and Tom have to talk Rick into doing this against his will?  Someone whispered to Marla not to be upset with Rick; he had spent all this time searching for his missing mother and aunt. 

Finally it made sense to Marla.  She knew just how absent-minded I could be.  Well, guess where I got that from?  Mom. 

So there was going to be a wedding after all, eh?  Marla took stock.

It was too late to redo the makeup.  Marla would just have to be tough! 

The music started, so half-crying, half-laughing with relief, a huge jangle of nerves, Marla began the trip to the altar escorted by her brothers Larry and Neil and her bridesmaids Marissa and Sam.

The wedding ceremony was short and sweet, but our shattered nerves still managed to show.

I was a little impatient so I said "I do" before the minister could even get there. Everyone had a little grin at that one. 'Who cares?' I thought. They had been having chuckles at my expense all day long. 

Then Marla had trouble putting the ring on my finger so I grabbed it and shoved it on myself. I was in no mood for social niceties. I wanted to get married!

The moment I got the ring on marked the end of the snafus. From here on out it was pure happiness.

After some much-needed champagne and some much-needed lunch, it was time for the wedding dance. Marla and I were ready to Waltz to a very pretty instrumental version of "A Time for Us" from Romeo and Juliet.

Normally this is a moment for great anxiety among grooms. I read once in a survey about wedding preparation, 500 different wedding couples agreed the one thing they would do if they had to do it all over again was to start preparing for their wedding dance much sooner.

I had a little edge. I had been preparing for my wedding dance for 25 years. Nevertheless in the middle of the song I tried to get a little fancy and lost my step. Knowing it was futile to try to fix it and risk a bigger problem, I stood still ready to catch the next beat and start over.

It wasn't an obvious goof. I was hoping it would go unnoticed, but no such luck. The Waltz Goddess herself Sharon Crawford let out a chuckle as she watched from above. Don't you hate people who are perfect?

It crushes me to say this, but we never got that wasted hour back.  Use it or lose it.  Well, it was our own fault.  Due to our late start, now we were practically out of time.  We had planned for lots of dancing at our reception, but we only had enough time to play three songs for our guests to dance to.  

I very much wanted a group picture, so I organized everyone and took them downstairs to the Centrum.  Our photographer lined up everyone on the stairs and took a wonderful group picture.

That marked a very happy end for a very happy group of people.  Now the wedding officials pointed to their watches and indicated it was time for the afternoon guests to depart. 

Several of our guests said the entire wedding adventure aboard the ship was so beautiful and romantic they now wished from the bottom of their hearts they could come with us on the trip that was to follow.  I thanked them for their kind words and said I wished they could come along too. 

One couple wasn't just being polite.  They really meant it!  Joe and Patty said leaving that ship was the hardest thing they ever did.  Joe and Patty had never been on a cruise ship before.  They had no idea the ship was so beautiful.  Now that they had seen the ship with their own eyes, this seemed like such a wonderful way to spend a vacation.  They couldn't bear the thought that we were headed off to surf and sand while they were stuck driving back to the concrete jungle called Houston.

Sure enough, Joe surprised Patty with a spot on the same cruise the following year.  It makes me happy to point out that Joe and Patty became cruise regulars all because of our Wedding.

After the group picture, our guests hugged us, shook our hands, and said their goodbyes. As much as they wanted to stay, it was time to go.  I have to say our guests were really nice to us.  I mean, we wasted an hour of every person's time, but they turned around and said it was the most fun wedding they had ever been to.  And so exciting!  Bless their hearts.  Even if they were fibbing, they still managed to assuage my feelings of guilt a little bit.

I just botched my 'I Do'

Marla couldn't get the ring on, so I shoved it on!

Some pictures don't require much explanation.

There were several very kind toasts made by our guests. I really appreciated my new brothers welcoming me to the family.

However the toast that took the cake was from Marissa.  Marissa is usually quiet and reserved.  She had been very aloof towards me in the beginning of my relationship.  I think she assumed I was eventually going to hurt her mother, so why give me the time of day?

To my complete surprise, Marissa suddenly opened up to everyone.  Marissa told our group of friends how sad and lonely she had seen her mother over the past ten years. Now Marissa was so happy that her mother had finally met a man who made Marla smile instead of cry.

Well, turn on the faucets.  That brought on the tears from EVERYONE, me included. Get out the Kleenex. We all started crying.  That was a really sweet thing to say.

That is the moment I realized today was not just the start of a new marriage, but a new family as well.

Our new family

Some very kind words from my new brothers

A quiet moment in the Centrum.  We should have been at the Life Vest drill

Paul Foltyn, the man who saved my wedding. 

The hardest part for Marla and for me was being forced to say goodbye to our daughters.

Sam had Eighth Grade at Duchesne Academy and Marissa had her Senior Year at Texas State.  Our two girls were the last to leave - a sad moment for all four of us.  After lots of sad but happy boo-hoos, the two new sisters in their red dresses were on their way back to Houston.

After the girls left, Marla and I looked for the nearest seats and collapsed.  We were exhausted. 

We had asked that our group picture be taken in the Centrum area on a staircase. 

No surprise, that's exactly where we collapsed.  We slowly began to melt into our chairs.  I reminded Marla we still had the Second Reception for our cruise guests that would be starting in just a couple hours.  Marla shook her head.  There was no way she had the strength for that.  But maybe if we could just rest a moment, maybe we could find a second wind.

As Marla and I sat in the Centrum along with Lynn and Mary, we heard the announcement come on that the life vest drill was about to begin.  I looked at Marla and she looked at me.  We both groaned.  Not that again.  We were too tired to move.  So we just sat there waiting for some RCCL person to order us out of our seats to attend the mandatory drill.

To our amazement, no one said a word.  With me in my tuxedo and Marla in her lovely wedding gown, I guess we were King and Queen for a day.  No one wanted to bother us.  This was one privilege I was deeply grateful for.  I needed that rest!

We looked at each other, held hands, and simultaneously let out a sigh of relief that could be heard throughout the ship. This day had been quite an adventure. 

That is when Marla looked at me and said, "Rick, most brides hope for a perfect wedding. Today I had an 'Oops' Wedding!"

I smiled and nodded in agreement. It had been an ordeal just getting to this point. The day had definitely been a lot wilder than I would have wished. However, we agreed on one thing - All's Well That Ends Well. 

Now we were married.  At that moment in time, Marla and I could not have been happier.

All's Well That Ends Well

Next: Chapter Three

The Second Wedding Reception


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