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Unknown  /  Erin Lounsbury
Long Island school librarian Erin Lounsbury spent a year planning her November 2 wedding to fiance Matthew Marone. But Sandy had other ideas.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/5/2012 3:50:15 PM ET 2012-11-05T20:50:15

After planning her wedding for a year, this wasn’t how Erin Lounsbury expected to spend her big day last Friday.

“We were sitting in the house, defrosting chicken and playing video games,” the 27-year-old Long Island resident told TODAY.com after superstorm Sandy shut down her Nov. 2 nuptials. (Unless you count a small celebration in Ohio, where the lone groomsman who was able to get his tux donned the suit and poured some vino to cheer the couple up.)

Lounsbury and her fiance are among the thousands of East Coast couples set to say “I do” on the post-Sandy weekend or later in November whose weddings were upended by the storm. Venues lost power or were waterlogged, hotels where guests were staying lacked power and downed trees and power lines made travel difficult if not impossible for guests and the couples themselves. More than 4,000 East Coast couples have had their weddings affected by Hurricane Sandy, reported wedding site TheKnot.com.

Lounsbury's wedding was taking place on Long Island, one of the hardest areas hit because of its proximity to the coastline.

At one point, Lounsbury’s flowers were ready but she couldn’t reach her guests’ Hyatt Place Garden City hotel in Garden City, N.Y., and the Jericho Terrace wedding reception hall in Mineola, N.Y., only had 25 percent power — did she want to choose between light or a DJ?

“What were we going to do? They were trying to get more generators,” Lounsbury said. “They called Wednesday night, ‘We’ll give you a new date.’”

Erin Lounsbury
All that was left of Erin Lounsbury and Matthew Marone's wedding was this photo of one of their groomsmen, who couldn't make it in from Ohio, with a makeshift wedding toast.

Downed power and phone lines and spotty cell service hampered communications with vendors and guests so many couples took to Facebook. Lounsbury updated her status telling people that the wedding was off, but she had invited all 500 students at Wenonah Elementary in Lake Grove, N.Y., where she is a librarian, to the church and isn’t Facebook friends with any of them.

“I’m not sure if everyone knew that the wedding was off,” she lamented Saturday.

After Sandy, East Coast brides to be, many stuck at home due to the gas shortage, including Lounsbury, turned to a Facebook page set up by TheKnot.com: “Helping Brides In the Wake Of Hurricane Sandy” to exchange stories and try to fix their weddings.

Wrapped up in wedding replanning mode, Lounsbury is keeping the same hall but looking for a new hotel and new vendors for her Nov. 24 redo. She posted on The Knot’s Facebook page over the weekend:

“Wondering if anyone has leftover church decorations like the bows on the pews? My grandma made wreathes and her house was flooded. Thankfully I picked up my veil she made before the storm.”

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Another poster said her friend had plenty of bows and would be “happy to help.”

Others offered to donate calligraphy to Lounsbury and remake her programs at cost. She posted she’d “pay it forward” to other brides. She said the wedding help has freed her up to donate to Sandy victims without basic needs.

“As much as I’m upset, if you think about it, we have water, food. Our family is OK,”  Lounsbury reflected. “Some people don’t have working toilets. How can you be upset over your wedding?”

Video: How to keep your family calm in stressful situations

Anja Winikka, TheKnot.com’s site director, said the popular wedding site blasted the Facebook page to their network of brides, venues, vendors and wedding planners. The Knot employees were making calls on behalf of brides and helped one garner a generator to save her wedding.

“We saw big wedding venues flooding in front of our eyes and knew people wouldn’t be able to have their weddings there for quite some time,” Winikka told TODAY.com. “We needed a way to connect everyone.”

Kathi Evans, a New Jersey-based wedding planner at All the Best Weddings & Celebrations, was one of the lucky ones in her neighborhood to have power last week so she busied herself, calling contractors to update brides on The Knot's Facebook page. The spirit of generosity, she contended, spread to some vendors but not all.

“True wedding professionals that understand what’s going on are the ones being cooperative and more generous,” she said. “The new ones to the business or the ones only motivated by money might not be as accommodating and don’t understand what they do today will affect them tomorrow, years down the road.”

What brides expected to remember years to come as one of the happiest times has been a whirlwind of emotions.

Shana Rae Clavijo
Shana Rae Clavijo and her fiance had to cancel their Nov. 3 New Jersey wedding because of the storm.

Shana Rae Clavijo from West New York, N.J., thanks her fiance, Jeff Gelles, for being “the voice of reason” amid her crying. It’s been a roller coaster ride with ups — when her Nov. 3 wedding still seemed plausible — and downs — when it was pushed back to Dec. 8.

“He has been really great trying to distract me and stay really positive,” Clavijo, 35, gushed about her fiance. “There was a day there he didn’t know what to say. ‘Everything is going to be OK. Please stop crying.’”

Video: Marathoners help out in hard-hit neighborhoods (on this page)

Instead of completing their wedding checklist this week, Clavijo and her fiance were stormed in with their two pups, watching downloaded movies on their iPads (until the batteries died) and living off protein bars and shakes for a day and a half.

“It’s amazing, really tragic events, stress, can bring you closer together,” Clavijo told TODAY.com on the day she was supposed to marry Gelles.

Vendors and guests now have to save a new wedding date just weeks away.

For her rescheduled wedding, Clavijo feels lucky to keep her vendors, but she’s disappointed to lose guests. Clavijo planned a Jewish wedding that incorporates special traditions and honors guests specifically. With about half coming from out of town, and her fiance being ex-military, and inviting current service members who might not be able to get leave, they expect to lose more than three dozen.

“Nobody wants to walk down the aisle and see nobody there,” Clavijo said.

Sandy does have brides, some of whom notoriously plan down to minutiae, realizing that details aren’t everything.

“You can’t worry about the small details,” Lounsbury said. “It’s not the wedding I had in mind in the first place. I just have to be thankful that we’re OK.”

After Hurricane Irene foiled her fiance’s proposal to her last year at bed and breakfast Sayre Mansion in Bethlehem, Penn., and superstorm Sandy crashed her wedding this year, she’s wondering what’s going to happen on her honeymoon, also set at the B&B.

“I’m afraid to rebook at this place — they’ll be a snow storm or something,” the bride-to-be joked.

TODAY.com writer Jasmin Aline Persch is trying to imagine a wedding reception without light or a DJ.

More:
'Jersey Shore' cast to help MTV 'Restore the Shore' with live benefit
Parting with life's props: A tough clean-up begins in Breezy Point
Sandy's aftermath: How you can help
For Sandy victims, resources to help get back on track
Amid Sandy's aftermath, acts of kindness abound

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Jon Bon Jovi: ‘Hard’ to visit devastated Jersey

  1. Closed captioning of: Jon Bon Jovi: ‘Hard’ to visit devastated Jersey

    >>> back now at 7:49 with how you can help those affected by sandy.

    >> tonight on the networks of nbc universal i'll be hosting a special one-hour concert hurricane sandy, coming together. it will take place here at rockefeller center and feature performances bay bevy of stars, including billy joel , bruce springsteen and the man sitting here right now, jon bon jovi . some of the worst devastation happened in his hometown and his home state. on thursday he had a chance to go home and see the damage and talk to people who had lost just about everything. that couldn't have been easy, john. good morning. nice to see you.

    >> no, it was hard, to see your hometown devastated like this and people that i grew up with, my grammer school turned into a shelter. people's homes gone and we're now homeless, never intended to be homeless. hard working blue collar people.

    >> the town you grew up in and means so much to you.

    >> yeah.

    >> what do you think it will take to rebuild?

    >> well, i think a concerted effort by we, by the collective we. i think as americans we all come together in these times of need and all feel we're all new yorkers in these times of need. we have been through it before and other parts of our country feel if they support us, they know some day we'll be supporting them. people come together in this time.

    >> and the call came out, and you obviously jumped in right away. a number of your fellow performers did, too.

    >> of course. usually never a shortage of entertainers that will be willing to help.

    >> new jersey, such a big part of your life and music, "in and out of love" shot in seaside heights . i know you saw the view from above in the chopper and see what's become of that area.

    >> the inner sleeve of the new jersey album was is this the on that boardwalk. i spent my childhood down on that boardwalk. it's gone, it's gone. the entire jersey shore i knew is gone.

    >> let me just say something. al mentioned you were overseas. you were in london and i called you on the phone and you were the very first person to say yes. it took you three seconds to say yes. you jumped on a plane and got back here. a lot of other performers will join you tonight.

    >> these are our people. this is what we could.

    >> you can see hurricane sandy coming together tonight at 8:00 eastern time on the networks of nbc universal and online at nbc.com.

    >> and we want to remind you all of this benefits the american red cross relief effort. contribute now by calling 1-800-help-now or text the red cross to 90999 if you want to make a $10

Photos: Recovery

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  1. Hundreds of people affected by Sandy wait in line for distributions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Red Cross and other aid organizations on Nov. 17 in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. FEMA says it is extending, by a month, a program providing temporary housing to New Yorkers displaced by Superstorm Sandy. (Bebeto Matthews / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A volunteer checks Donald Vaughn, who had not been able to keep a dialysis appointment, in his apartment at a public housing facility in the Rockaway section of the Queens borough of New York on Nov. 17. Some residents have struggled to get their lives back to normal more than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy since some essential services have yet to return to parts of the city. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Contractors dig several feet of sand out of a garage after it was deposited by the storm surge from Sandy in Mantoloking, N.J. on Nov. 16. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Destroyed rides sit on the beach from the Funtown Pier on Nov. 16 in Seaside Heights, N.J. Two amusement piers and a number of roller coasters were destroyed in the seaside town by Sandy. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A surfer heads out into the water in the heavily damaged Rockaway neighborhood where a large section of the iconic boardwalk was washed away on Nov. 16, in the Queens borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. President Barack Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, talk with a man inside the distribution tent as they tour a FEMA recovery center in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy on Staten Island in New York on Nov. 15, 2012. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, is at right. Obama got a look Thursday at the devastation that Sandy waged on New York City, flying over flood-ravaged Queens before landing in Staten Island to meet storm victims who lost homes and loved ones. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Rosemary McDermott and her husband Anthony Minor react as they open a safe containing a family genealogy they were able to salvage from the basement of her mother's home in the Breezy Point section of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 15, 2012. A fire destroyed more than 100 homes in the oceanfront community during Superstorm Sandy. At left are Todd Griffin and Kevin Striegle, volunteers with Adventures in Missions, who helped find the safe beneath the debris. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. People receive free clothing at the Ocean Bay Action Center on Nov. 15, 2012, in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens in New York City. More than two weeks after Superstorm Sandy, residents are still lining up for free clothing and food as emergency workers continue to restore power, water and heat to the battered community. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Patrick Wall, house manager at Coney Island USA, cleans a vintage player piano damaged in the flooding of the buildings that house the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and the Coney Island Museum on Nov. 15, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York City. Staff and volunteers are working to restore what can be saved following Superstorm Sandy. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Homeowner Rob Ostrander talks on the phone in front of his Hurricane Sandy damaged home in the Brooklyn borough region of Belle Harbor, N.Y., Nov. 14. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A worker looks up at a hole in the foundation caused by Hurricane Sandy to the home of Leslie Mahoney in the Brooklyn borough of Belle Harbor, N.Y., Nov. 14. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Lisa Baney walks back toward her family's home after taking a photo of a neighbor's destroyed home on Nov. 14, in Bay Head, N.J. Many residents of the hard hit seaside town remain without power. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A living room is filled with sand washed in by Superstorm Sandy on Nov. 14, in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A man looks up at a building along the destroyed section of boardwalk on Nov. 14, in Point Pleasant, N.J. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Workers pause to look at a home that has been pushed on top of a work truck by the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy in the Brooklyn borough of Belle Harbor N.Y., Nov. 14. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A candle is handed out to residents in need from a group called Dream Center in the heavily damaged Rockaway neighborhood in Queens, N.Y. on Nov.14. Two weeks after Superstorm Sandy slammed into parts of New York and New Jersey, thousands are still without power and heat. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. An New York police officer jumps over a chasm in the boardwalk caused by the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy in Belle Harbor, N.Y., Nov. 14. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Louise McCarthy carts belongings from her flood-damaged home as she passes the charred ruins of other homes in the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York, Nov. 14. A fire destroyed more than 100 homes in the oceanfront community during Superstorm Sandy. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Heavy equipment operator Bill Unger carries photos he salvaged from a mass dump of household possessions on Nov. 13, in the Midland Beach area of the Staten Island, N.Y. Unger has been helping to remove Hurricane Sandy debris for the city and collecting photos along the way. He takes them to his daughter, who is posting them on Facebook for neighborhood residents to find online and later collect. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. A woman steps down off a damaged section of boardwalk in the Rockaway neighborhood of New York City, Nov. 13. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. CVS workers stock the shelves of a temporary store being constructed in front of a damaged CVS location in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York, Nov. 12. Most stores in the area have been damaged or destroyed. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A home that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy is seen in Union Beach, N.J., on Nov. 12. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. An insurance claims adjuster climbs the entrance to a house in the Breezy Point neighborhood on Nov. 12, which was left devastated by Superstorm Sandy in New York City's Queens borough. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Chris Schmidt works on ripping out damaged wood in a friend's home, as a fire burns in the fireplace, on Nov. 12. People in the area continue to deal with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in the Oakwood Beach neighborhood of Staten Island, N.Y. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Members of the U.S. Army's 62nd Medical Brigade Preventive Medicine Detachment take water samples during early morning fog in Breezy Point, on Nov. 12. The neighborhood was left devastated by Superstorm Sandy in New York City's Queens borough. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. People line up to receive donated items from Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens in the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, on Nov. 12. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A woman carries her dog while walking through charred homes in Breezy Point, on Nov. 12. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A resident looks through a destroyed house in Union Beach, N.J., on Nov. 12. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Streets damaged during Superstorm Sandy are seen in Ortley Beach, N.J., on Nov. 10. (Tim Larsen / Governor's Office via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. People gather for free donated food beneath a spotlight in an area without power on Nov. 12, in the Rockaway neighborhood in New York City's Queens borough. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. A young girl rejoices as she finds a doll, while she and her mother search through piles of clothes and other items donated for victims of Superstorm Sandy, on a sidewalk on the south side of Staten Island, on Nov. 12. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Seabee EOCN Courtney McCormack, left, grabbed a shovel and started digging out the sand that had washed up against the house as others in the group grabbed the waterlogged debris to begin a 100 yard walk out of the neighborhood to a large trash pile in Breezy Point, N.Y. on Nov. 12. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A cyclist passes piles of debris on Nov. 10, as clean-up continues where a large section of the iconic boardwalk was washed away in the heavily damaged Rockaway neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Community pet rescuer Kim Ruiz stands among the cats, five of whom were rescued during Superstorm Sandy, and dogs she houses in her unheated apartment without electricity in the Far Rockaway neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York City on Nov. 9. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Mac Baker heats pots of water on the floor with small flames for a bit of warmth in her unheated apartment on Nov. 9, with her niece Nytaisha Baker in the Ocean Bay public housing projects in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Volunteer Christine Wakefield organizes donated goods Nov. 9, in a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island, N.Y. (Andrew Burton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. David Sylvester searches through the remains of his house, which was flooded and then burned to the ground during Hurricane Sandy, for the corpses of his five cats in the Midland Beach neighborhood in Staten Island, N.Y., on Nov. 9. (Andrew Burton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Dean Rasinya takes a break from cleaning his damaged home on Nov. 8 in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens in New York City. Rasinya's house still stands, just at the edge of the fire's reach, near the area where there was a huge blaze that destroyed over 100 homes in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Rasinya has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years and intends to rebuild. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. U.S. Marines from the 8th Engineer Support Battallon out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., attempt to start a generator which they will use to pump out floodwater from an overnight storm on Nov. 8 in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. The Breezy Point neighborhood was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. David Sylvester, 50, stands in front of the remains of his house in the Midland Beach neighborhood on Staten Island in New York City on Nov. 8. Sylvester and his wife Joanne lost their five cats when their home caught fire after Hurricane Sandy flooded their neighborhood. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Theresa Goddard, her apartment still without electricity, is overwhelmed while discussing her living conditions on Nov. 8 in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. Even as a storm plunged temperatures below freezing, she and many other residents of the Red Hook public housing projects remain without heat and running water. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. A damaged house sits in the middle of the street as the area continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, Queens, N.Y. on Nov. 8. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Snow covers debris from the cleanup after Sandy in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 8. Residents across the Northeast woke up on Nov. 8 to more than 200,000 new power outages and record early snow from a nor'easter that struck just 10 days after Superstorm Sandy battered the region. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Ed Cardona shovels a few inches of snow from his driveway, just two hundred yards from the water, on Staten Island in New York City on Nov. 8. Cardona, who has lived here since 1989, had about three feet of water after Superstorm Sandy. "I still love the place, I'm not going anywhere. I picked up a new snowblower within the last seven months that went under water. I didn't get to use it at all, but that's OK. The family's safe, that's what's important," said Cardona. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. A man walks past a fallen tree in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., Nov. 8. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. People wait in line to buy gasoline during a snowstorm on Nov. 7 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The city is still experiencing long gas lines in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Snow blows past debris and non-functioning streetlights on Nov. 7 in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. A man helps another person climb down from a destroyed section of boardwalk after they checked the storm's approach in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 7. The Rockaway Peninsula was especially hard hit by Superstorm Sandy and some evacuated ahead of the nor'easter. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Volunteers walk through falling snow while bringing food to residents of homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy on Nov. 7 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. Snow falls as Eddie Saman clears out destroyed household belongings from his flood-damaged home on Nov. 7 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. He and fellow residents of the low-lying New Dorp area of Staten Island had been advised to evacuate ahead of the arrival of a storm that could potentially reflood areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. U.S. Marines work to clean up debris on Nov. 7 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Kenneth Henn delivers mail to a residence along Ocean Ave. at 15th Street in the evacuated section of Belmar, N.J., on Nov. 7. Machines pile sand along Ocean Ave. in the background. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. Linemen install a transformer on Nov. 7 to help restore power in the Staten Island community of Oakwood Beach in New York City. The linemen were from Chain Electric, a contract utility crew that drove in from Mississippi to help out. (Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Dave Young, left, and Joe Callan, front right, help friend and fellow FDNY firefighter Kieran Burke, background, search for his wife's engagement ring, a family heirloom, in the ashes of Burke's home on Nov. 6 in Breezy Point, N.Y. (David Friedman / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. This sign and photo were nailed to one of several pilings that had held up a home in Head, N.J., until it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. (Tom Mihalek / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Heavy equipment operators work on a mountain of debris left by superstorm Sandy on Nov. 6 in Wall, N.J. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. Casey Brouder clears out her parents' home on Nov. 6 in Breezy Point, N.Y. (David Friedman / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. Members of the National Guard walk past a house damaged by Sandy as it is painted with an American flag in the New Dorp section of Staten Island, N.Y. on Nov. 6. Voting in the U.S. presidential election is the latest challenge for the hundreds of thousands of people in the New York-New Jersey area still affected by superstorm Sandy. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. Poll workers Eva Prenga, right, Roxanne Blancero, center, and Carole Sevchuk try to start an optical scanner voting machine in the cold and dark at a polling station in a tent in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, N.Y., on Nov. 6. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by superstorm Sandy. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Nikolas Policastro, 20, gives a kiss to one of his five puppies while Paige Shaw of the American Red Cross pets their mother "Bella" at a shelter in the Pinelands Regional Junior High School in Little Egg Harbor, N.J. on Nov. 6. Policastro, his four brothers and his parents sought refuge at the shelter after their home in Mystic Islands was swamped with over five feet of water from Sandy. The shelter was one of the few places that the family could house their extended family of five cats, five dogs and five thee-week-old puppies. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. A woman and her son scramble over a tree toppled by superstorm Sandy as she accompanies him to Public School 195, in the background, in the Manhattan Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, on Nov. 5 in New York. Nov. 5 was the first day of public school for New York City students following the storm. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  62. MTA employees observe a pump removing seawater from the L train's tunnel, in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in New York City on Nov. 5. The MTA says the G and L trains are now the top priority to reopen. The signal system on the G still needs repairs, and the L tunnel under the East River is still being pumped out. (MTA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  63. People wait at a crowded subway stop as New York City tries to recover from the after effects of Hurricane Sandy in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 5. Portions of the city's transit system are still not operating due to flooding and damage from last week's hurricane causing severe crowding in areas. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  64. Lakota Serpica, 8, does her part to help organize donations for people affected by Sandy in Midland Beach in Staten Island, N.Y. on Nov. 5. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  65. Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. arrive in Staten Island, N.Y. on Nov. 5. (John Makely / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  66. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, garbage lies piled on the street in the New Dorp neighborhood of Staten Island, N.Y., on Nov. 4. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  67. A worker scrapes up mud and tiles from flood-damaged Saint Rose High School in Belmar, N.J., on Nov. 4. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  68. People salvage food from bags thrown out of a flooded store in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 4. Victims of Sandy on the East Coast struggled against the cold early on Sunday amid fuel shortages and power outages, even as officials fretted about getting voters displaced by the storm to polling stations for Tuesday's presidential election. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  69. Soldiers from the National Guard help to unload supplies to set up a donation distribution center for victims of Sandy, at St. Camillus School in the Rockaways area of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 4. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  70. Rockaway residents stay warm by a fire during near-freezing temperatures on Nov. 4 in the Rockaway area of Queens, N.Y. (Allison Joyce / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  71. Members of the Coney Island Cathedral of Deliverance worship in a neighboring community center on Nov. 4 in New York City, after their church and beach community were heavily damaged by Sandy. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  72. New York City Marathon runners help clear debris from homes in a damaged neighborhood in the Staten Island borough of New York on Nov. 4. More than 1,000 people, many of whom had originally planned to run the marathon, crowded onto two Staten Island Ferry boats and headed to the stricken borough with relief supplies ranging from food to plastic bags. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  73. Vincent Gearity removes water-damaged insulation in a crawl space below a home as the area continues to clean up after Hurricane Sandy in Toms River, N.J., Nov. 4. (Steve Nesius / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  74. A man takes a photograph of a home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., on Nov. 4. (Les Stone / American Red Cross via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  75. An American Red Cross meal truck and volunteers hand out free meals in Bellmore, N.Y. on Nov. 3 (Jason Colston / American Red Cross via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  76. A man walks near standing water and piles of sand swept onto a road from Superstorm Sandy at Rockaway Beach on Nov. 3, in the Queens borough of New York City. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  77. An NYPD helicopter air drops supplies in the New Dorp Beach section of Staten Island, N.Y. on Nov. 3. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  78. A man stands outside his house which was left flooded by hurricane Sandy in the Staten Island borough of New York, Nov. 3. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  79. Volunteer Christina Wilson, left, helps clean up the kitchen of the Ventura family home, which was flooded during Superstorm Sandy, Nov. 3, in Staten Island, N.Y. A Superstorm Sandy relief fund is being created just for residents of the hard-hit New York City borough. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Borough President James Molinaro say the fund will help residents displaced from their homes. (Julio Cortez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  80. Howard Goldsmith consoles his wife, Rosanna Troia, while helping clean out Troia's mother's home in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island on Nov. 3. As clean-up efforts from Superstorm Sandy continue, colder weather and another storm predicted for next week are beginning to make some worried. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  81. Volunteers deliver blankets to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy in the Staten Island borough of New York, Nov. 3. (Keith Bedford / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  82. A member of the National Guard fills up a gas tank at the Armory on Nov. 3, in the Staten Island borough of New York City. New Jersey has begun rationing gas and the Department of Defense will be setting up mobile gas stations in New York City and Long Island. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  83. A man looks over the remains of a home in the Staten Island borough of New York, Nov. 3. (Keith Bedford / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  84. People clean the boardwalk of sand washed in by Superstorm Sandy in low-lying historic Coney Island on Nov. 3, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  85. Roxanne Boothe uses a flashlight as she walks through a hallway in Sam Burt Houses, where she is president of the tenants' association, on Nov. 3 in Coney Island, N.Y. The complex, which has been without power since Oct. 29, flooded during superstorm Sandy and a 90-year-old woman who had lived there for more than 40 years drowned on the first floor. "We have no heat, no water, no electricity, it’s dark in the whole building," said Boothe, who was frustrated that the Red Cross and FEMA assistance has not reached her neighborhood. (Bebeto Matthews / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  86. Collins Wimbish, left, and Margaret Girgaud cook food over a fire in a barrel in the Rockaways neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., Nov. 3. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  87. Jeff Kulikowski, left, sits on a bench on the boardwalk that was pushed off of its pilings by storm surge as the city tries to recover from the after effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., Nov. 3. Large areas of the city are still without power or functioning stores to buy food and water. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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Explainer: 12 of the world’s wackiest weddings

  • Image: Newlyweds Batman and Wonder Woman, also known as Neil Vaughan and Sharon Wetherell
    Adam Gerrard  /  SWNS

    Your wedding day is supposed to be your day — one of the most pivotal days in your lives.

    Right?

    If that’s really true, then why not join the throngs of couples who are choosing to live out wild, fanciful or downright silly dreams in conjunction with their nuptials? Doing so could have a practical benefit: It could save you big bucks. In these recessionary times, many have been shunning lavish weddings and opting for unique ones instead.

    Here are 12 recent examples of utterly wacky — and utterly memorable — weddings. Click “next” at the left to start your (strange) trip down the aisle.

  • Holy matrimony, Batman!

    Image: Newlyweds Batman and Wonder Woman, also known as Neil Vaughan and Sharon Wetherell
    Adam Gerrard  /  SWNS

    For those of you out there who always sensed that Batman and Wonder Woman would make a great couple: It’s happened!

    On July 31, Sharon Wetherell and Neil Vaughan of Devon, England, tied the knot while all dressed up as their favorite superheroes. As “Wonder Woman” theme music blared, Wetherell, 40, made a grand entrance at the ceremony wearing blue hot pants, a red corset, flashy boots and a tiara and veil that cost her about $160. The groom’s face-obscuring Batman costume set him back about $290.

    The couple’s friends and family also got gussied up as superheroes. Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Robin, Poison Ivy, Lara Croft, the Joker, Bananaman and the Incredibles were all in attendance.

    “Our wedding was absolutely amazing and it cost us less than some couples would spend on just the dress,” Mrs. Vaughan said in the British newspaper The Daily Mail. “We were not allowed to see each other’s costumes before the big day, but when I did see Neil he looked fantastic as Batman. ... It was such a great day.”

  • No cold feet at T.J. Maxx wedding

    Image: Lisa Satayut and Drew Ellis at their T.J. Maxx wedding
    Bill Pugliano  /  AP for TJ Maxx

    Who doesn’t get excited about the prospect of bagging a bargain? Bride Lisa Satayut decided to combine that feeling with her excitement over bagging her beau.

    Explaining that T.J. Maxx is her “happy place,” Satayut married Drew Ellis in July in the size 8 shoe aisle of a T.J. Maxx store in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

    The bride — a self-proclaimed “'Maxxinista” — wore a strapless white chiffon gown, with long black gloves and bright green gladiator-style sandals. A widened aisle, vine-covered arch and white chairs with red bows highlighted the traditional ceremony that included string music, display-dodging cameramen — and curious shoppers who stopped bargain hunting long enough to watch.

    Related video: With this bargain, I thee wed at T.J. Maxx

  • Happy ogre after

    Image: Vivian and Tracey Williams with dressed up wedding guests
    Wales News Service

    Tracey and Vivian Williams, a happy couple from Wales, tied the knot in May by dressing up as two of their favorite movie characters: the green ogres Shrek and Princess Fiona. Tracey Williams, 33, told the British newspaper The Daily Mail that the themed wedding idea suited her and her new husband perfectly.

    “Our friends always used to say we looked like the characters when we went on nights out,” she said. “Even though Shrek and Fiona are both green ogres, we didn’t take it offensively because we like them so much.”

    The couple actually saw a “Shrek” movie on their first date and have been loyal fans ever since. To get ready for the big day, the pair covered themselves in green body paint and affixed fake green ears to the tops of their heads. Tracey donned a bright red wig to complete the Princess Fiona look, and Vivian sported checked trousers.

    The Williams’ wedding guests got in on the fun, with the best man dressing up as Monsieur Hood, the bride’s father going as Lord Farquaad, the bride’s mother playing the Fairy Godmother and the maid of honor playing Snow White.

    Related story: Pair dress as Shrek, Fiona for wedding

  • Kiss the bride – if you can find her

    Image: Marvin Hunter and Kim Silver in a tree stand
    Mike Moynihan
    An Iowa couple whose passion for bowhunting encouraged Cupid's arrow to strike wore camouflage to blend in with the wooded backdrop at their treetop wedding.

    Kim Silver, 42, dressed in a silk gown made by camouflage specialists Mossy Oak, and her 61-year-old groom, Marvin Hunter, was dressed in camo shirt and pants at the June nuptials.

    They said their vows atop a tree stand hunting platform. The bride and groom occasionally punctuated the ceremony by firing arrows at targets. Hunter said the couple had always joked about getting married on a tree stand. Silver said the pair hunt together so much that the camo wedding "just seemed like the right thing to do."

  • A viral dance sensation

    Image: Wedding party dancing down the aisle
    TODAY

    Most couples wait until the reception before breaking out into the Funky Chicken on their wedding day, but Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson figured, why wait to unleash their unbridled joy?

    The 28-year-olds floored their wedding guests by having their whole bridal party — including seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers — boogie down the aisle in a choreographed dance more at home in a Broadway musical than in a somber church.

    Groomsmen split into sides as Heinz did a somersault in front of the wowed crowd — and the gown-clad Peterson quickly followed, shaking her hips to Chris Brown’s “Forever” while pumping her bridal bouquet into the air during the June 20, 2009, ceremony in St. Paul, Minn.

    The wedding party rehearsed the dance for just 90 minutes.

    Of course, some things are too good to keep to yourself. And when Kevin posted the wedding dance routine on YouTube, it quickly became a viral hit, with hundreds of thousands of people sharing in the couple’s novel way of showing their matrimonial joy.

    Related video: Wedding party boogies down the aisle

  • 110 bridesmaids set world record

    Image: Jill Stapleton with 110 bridesmaids
    TODAY

    Some people think five or six bridesmaids are a lot. But how about 110? Jill Stapleton, an Ohio gymnastics teacher, set a world record in June when she invited all of her young students to be her bridesmaids at her wedding.

    “We were actually going to go away for our wedding but this wedding day is more important to a lot of these little girls and boys back here that have made my dreams come true,” Stapleton said. “This is our dream wedding.”

    Stapleton married Chad Greenhill, a Marshall University cheerleader. The previous record was 90 bridesmaids.

  • An aisle of light bulbs, grills

    Image: Carolyn Weatherly and Audwin Mosby
    Courtesy Audwin Joaquin Mosby
    The bride wore white. The guests wore orange smocks.

    A Southern California couple wed in June in front of more than 100 guests at a Home Depot store where they work.

    The wedding party for 56-year-old Carolyn Weatherly and Audwin Mosby, who’s 55, marched down an aisle of light bulbs, grills and paint to the outdoor garden section.

    A wedding arbor and stage had been built from the store’s lumber and supplies.

    The bride said the store in Lake Forest is like a second home and her colleagues are like family.

    "I feel awesome," Mosby told the Orange County Register. "This is the best thing that has happened to me in a long, long time."

  • Sweet, sugary love

    Image: Jared and Jerri Guinther eating doughnuts at wedding
    Sara Terese Heise

    Voodoo Doughnut, a wildly popular indulgence with two locations in Portland, Ore., has an entire menu dedicated to wedding services. That menu includes a variety of matrimonial options, such as this “Legal Voodoo Wedding” package for $200: “Legal wedding ceremony, coffee & doughnuts for 24 people, 700-square-foot chapel, free parking & doughnut centerpiece.”

    The doughnut shops have married off more than 300 couples, sending hearts racing with both romance and sugar intake. Pictured here are Jared and Jerri Guinther enjoying their sweet nuptials.

  • Jaws of love

    Image: April Pignataro and Michael Curry in shark tank
    WNBC
    Talk about taking the plunge. April Pignataro and Michael Curry opted to be lowered in a steel cage into a shark tank to exchange their wedding vows in June.

    The bride wore a white wetsuit; the groom wore a black one. The experienced divers spoke their vows into radio headgear transmitted to a minister outside the tank while about 75 guests watched from behind glass. The 120,000-gallon tank at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, N.Y., includes sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, moray eels and a massive Queensland grouper.

    Both Pignataro and Curry said the concept of a shark tank wedding thrilled them. “We both love the ocean, we love the water ... and yes, the idea of an underwater wedding, not to mention one surrounded by sharks at an aquarium, is different and unique, but that is also exactly who we are,” Pignataro told NBCNewYork.

  • 'I do' in Aisle 2

    Image: Jack Frankel and Fina Nikolos at wedding
    Mike Stocker  /  SunSentinel.com
    One couple decided to tie the knot where they first met: Whole Foods Market.

    Jack Frankel, 75, and 67-year-old Fina Nikolos met in May 2009 at the supermarket in Coral Springs, Fla. It had been raining when Frankel noticed a beautiful woman pass him. Nikolos offered to walk him to his car with an umbrella. He later thanked her by taking her out to lunch.

    In January 2010, the two returned to the place where their love began for a small wedding ceremony in the store's cafe. About 40 people attended the ceremony as store employees and customers watched and smiled. The couple held each other close during the ceremony, shedding a few tears. They also exchanged emotional vows. Nikolos was too overcome to finish hers aloud.

    According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, this was the first time customers wed in a Whole Foods Market in Florida, though employees have gotten married there.

    Frankel told reporters that the most irresistible thing about his bride is her eyes. “She looks at me with those Spanish eyes and I melt,” he said.

  • I now pronounce you bride and ghoul

    Image: Jack Holsinger and Connie Spitznagel
    Alicia Castelli  /  The Chronicle-Telegram

    Why don’t more bridal magazines suggest this as the perfect theme for an October wedding?

    In October 2009, Jack Holsinger, 61, and Connie Spitznagel, 44, dressed as pale-faced vampires for their Halloween-themed ceremony at a haunted house near Cleveland, Ohio. Holsinger arrived in a coffin inside a hearse, and the coffin was carried to the altar by six pallbearers. Minister Greg Kopp was dressed as Jason in the "Friday the 13th" movies. After the vows were exchanged, he ordered Holsinger not to kiss his new bride but instead to bite her on the neck.

    The couple vowed to love each other and haunt and howl at the moon together. Like typical mortal couples, the groom said he just wanted his bride to be happy.

    “This is her first wedding,” Holsinger said. “She had a common-law marriage the first time around, so she never really got a wedding. It’s what she wanted and it’s about her. It’s her time. Whatever she wanted.”

  • Will you Mario me?

    msnbc.com

    Proving that love is a game that two can play — a video game, that is — Bobbi VanZante and Elijah Slagter of Pella, Iowa, decided on a unique theme for their wedding: Super Mario Brothers. Slaget, the groom, will dress as Mario, of course, and VanZante will be costumed as the lovely Princess Peach.

    The father of the bride will be dressed up as Bowser, even though he’s the villain of the Mario universe. “It’s kind of part of the game,” VanZante explained to NBC’s Megan Reuther. “Bowser and all his buddies steal Princess Peach.” So who better to give the bride away to her groom?

    VanZante’s mother, Lori Mullen, was good-natured about the Mario madness, which included such details as making turtle shells out of bicycle helmets. “It fits both of them,” she said. “It’ll be a fun day and good remembrance.”

    Reached for comment inside a Nintendo gaming system, the real Mario commented: “It’s a-me, Mario!”

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