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“We Survived Hurricane Irene”

How one couple made it work when everything went wrong.


Becky Marks, 29, and her husband, Dan, 31, had planned on marrying on August 27, 2011, at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset, New Jersey. But with the much-feared Hurricane Irene on the horizon, a groomsman dropped out. Then the band canceled.

Instead of shuttling guests back and forth from the hotel to the reception when the storm was supposed to be at its worst, the couple, who live on the Upper East Side, decided to scrap the 170-person reception altogether. Their options then were to push it to a later date or cancel and recoup only 25 percent of the total cost. Becky says they were hell-bent on getting married: “We said, ‘Let’s just get through this. We’ll worry about the money later.’ ”

Because 80 of their guests were staying at the Short Hills Hilton Hotel near Newark airport, the couple decided to move the ceremony there, followed by an in-house buffet and open-bar reception, which they partially paid for with the $9,500 refund from the band. When their Manhattan-based photographer refused to change venues at the last minute, Becky found a flexible local shooter who happened to be moving that weekend and didn’t have any weddings booked.

Numerous cancellations brought the final guest count to 110, so the florist used the extra centerpieces to line the aisles for the ceremony. One of the bridesmaids also scouted a Short Hills D.J. who was not only available but also charged them just $1,800 for the night. Becky remembers looking out the window at the Hilton around 1 a.m. and “seeing people being blown down, soaking wet.” It was then she knew they’d made the right call.

As for the Palace reception, the couple decided to host a benefit for the American Cancer Society on March 16 in lieu of planning another wedding. Says Becky: “I’m done being a bride.”

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