Weddings go on around the world on a regular basis. Most are memorable to the bride and groom and maybe their parents. However, few make a lasting impression on the guests. This is the story of one wedding that made a lasting impression on an entire town.
Sue Ellen and Jimmy (names changed to protect the guilty) were set to tie the knot at 11:30 am on Saturday, June 12th, in the Town Hall. Those planning the wedding were less than organized and many details had been left undone. They were franticly scurrying about at 10:30 that morning, trying to iron out an assortment of showstoppers-such as the minister. Apparently, everyone thought someone else had arranged for the clergy. Since Bobby Curtis, the minister, was off on a three day fishing trip, they were in crisis mode. Some suggested they go find Bobby and haul him to the church, but they settled for highjacking the Justice Of The Peace from a nearby town.
The parking lot was filing up and people were fighting over who should have which spot. The groom, dressed in his rented tuxedo, stood with a group of his friends in jeans and ballcaps-well, one was wearing camo. They were drinking from a bottle inside a brown paper bag. This did not bode well. A big yellow pickup with huge tires and a couple of large dents in the hood squealed tires as it pulled into the parking lot and stopped. An angry looking young man jumped from the truck and stormed toward the groom and his group. The groom stepped from the group to intercept him and the two men stood toe to toe, shouting obscenities at each other. Apparently, this was the bride’s ex. The verbal altercation turned physical. Fists flew and so did one of the groom’s front teeth. The fight became a brawl, as others joined the fracas. It continued until the sheriff and a deputy stepped in and escorted the ex away in the police car.
It was a bit after 11:00. The groom’s friends took him inside to clean him up. As more guests arrived, the tone of the group became well established. There had been a long, late party the night before. Many attendees looked hung over and some looked as if they had gone the way of the groom in some recent difference of opinion. Bruises, scrapes and even a few outfits from the night before indicated this would be a rough day for many-it had obviously been a rough night. Tempers were short, everyone had some complaint and bullying attitudes abounded. Finger pointing was rampant and there even seemed to be a Hatfield and McCoy feud in evolution between the groom’s and the bride’s sides of the family. Upon thinking it over, the safest seat in the hall could only be at the back and near the door.
The Justice Of The Peace came rushing in at 11:35, looking fearful and escorted by two burley young men. The groom entered minus his tooth and sporting faded bloodstains on his white shirt. The wedding march began and when the bride appeared her black eye stood out against the pristine white of her gown. These would be treasured wedding photos without a doubt. It was told later that the bride entered into an altercation with the groom’s ex the night before-sent her to the hospital-warrant was pending.
Despite the shaky start, the wedding took place and the two looked happy, as they stood together on the front steps. People loaded into their cars, everyone trying to exit at the same time, shouting obscenities at each other, grinding gears and burning rubber. At the reception, the liquor was flowing as freely as the beer and behaviors were highly raucous. By the time the fire sirens wailed past Big Bear Bar and Grill, most of the partiers were too drunk to care or even notice. Most wouldn’t find out until the next day what transpired, when they left the Town Hall.
No one thought to extinguish the candles in the silk flower arrangements displayed on the Town Hall windowsills. The building was about 150 years old, the wood was very dry and it didn’t take long for it to become a memory. The new Town Hall is never let out for private functions and Sue Ellen and Jimmy’s parents are still at odds about which side of the family is responsible. There was truly a “hot time in the old town” that day.