Nor’Easter Wedding

In retrospect, an outdoor wedding reception during a nor’easter was a perfect introduction to New England.

By David Boorstin

Aug 10 2014


It was my wife’s idea to have our wedding reception under a tent in a coastal marsh during a nor’easter. Okay, okay. The nor’easter part wasn’t her idea — that just came uninvited to the proceedings.

She assured me the setting would be romantic and wiggled her eyebrows meaningfully. Being a Southerner of Carolina species and naturally fond of meaningful eyebrow wiggling, I thought, sure, honeybunch, why not? After all, several bona fide Southerners were going to make their first trip to New England just for the big event, and each said he or she wanted a “real New England experience.” Let”s give ’em a big show.

So, fools in love, we picked a time when the locals said the weather was guaranteed to be peachy — the first weekend in October. During the last week of September, though, Hurricane Shirley came up the Atlantic coast. Maybe her name was Doris, I forget. I was busy nailing up barn doors over the huge plate-glass windows of our house. Barn doors.

The hurricane passed the day before the Southern entourage spilled out of airplanes bringing their own provisions: cases of bonded bourbon, cowbells, clean underwear, and extra sneakers — the kind of essential stuff they normally carted along to football games. My dad showed up bearing 50 pounds of North Carolina barbecue (still smoking). He took one look at the cloudy sky and said, “Get a building with a real roof, son. It’s not too late.”

“It’ll clear, dad,” I said. “New England weather’s funky. Trust me.”

Saturday morning turned out to be simply rotten. “Get a place with a real roof, son,” counseled Père, tying on his black tie.

“Hey, it’ll clear, Pop,” I said. “Trust me. I’m marrying a New Englander.”

The rector cleared his throat. “Get a place with a real roof, son,” he advised moments before the ceremony. “A town hall, an empty garage will do. A real nor’easter is coming.”

Back at the marsh, we found the local ladies who did the cooking for us huddled under the buffeting yellow tents, holding down platters of food. The rain was flying horizontally. The orchestra gamely tooted out “Pennies from Heaven.” The bar began to sink in the ooze. “Isn’t this great?” I said to my new wife, shortly before I poked a pole into the roof of the tent and sent a sheet of water all over her gown.

Only the bona fide New Englanders had the sense to go home and get out of the rain. Around midnight, when the dance floor finally sank out of sight, my Confederate chums were yowling “Dixie” and drinking bourbon and tarp water.

“Heck of a wedding,” they told us, heading for home with blackened sneakers. “Heck of a storm, too.”

After they were gone, some grizzled Yankee sage told us that rain falling on your wedding day is a sign that you’ll get rich. I sure hope that’s true. It cost me a fortune to get those damn tuxedos cleaned. When the guy at the formal shop asked me which side won the brawl in the mud, I told him it was a draw. “We only agreed to quit,” I said, “on account of New England weather.”

Excerpt from “Wedding in the Rain,” Yankee Magazine, September 1988.