What happened the day the best man and matron of honor went missing.

By E.J. Crawford '99

As the years go by, wedding photos tend to get pushed into shoeboxes in the back of a closet, or are relegated to the basement with all the other stuff you think you should keep but never actually use. But with our anniversary coming up, my wife and I decided to dig ours out of storage. Since October 2006, we’ve aged five years — a process expedited by a sweet yet diabolically stubborn two-year-old daughter and a happy yet sleep-averse infant son — but otherwise aren’t too much the worse for wear. Neither are the pictures. Generally speaking, it’s a pretty happy-looking crowd, a lot of hugging, a lot of posing, a lot of people a lot more dressed up than I’ve seen them since.

Conspicuously absent, however, are the best man and the maid of honor, which brings me to the point of my story: Recently my wife and I celebrated our five-year anniversary surrounded by a far larger number of kids than our own, for our anniversary also marked the fifth birthday of my nephew, the son of the absentee wedding party leads.

Here’s how it happened. My wife, Debbie, is the sister-in-law of Joe DeGennaro ’99, one of my best friends from Bucknell, and the younger sister of Laura Stolting DeGennaro ’99, Joe’s college girlfriend and now wife. Pretty soon after graduation, Laura told me she thought Debbie and I would be a great match, but it took a few years before we finally proved her right. As such, Joe and Laura were the perfect fits to be the best man and matron of honor at our wedding. We asked them to fill these roles pretty soon after getting engaged only to learn a few weeks later that Laura was pregnant and due in late October. The wedding was planned for early October, prompting Laura to note earnestly, “It’s not like I’ll have the baby on your wedding day.”

Fast-forward six months. Debbie is awakened on our wedding day by Laura, whose water had just broken. Roughly 30 minutes later my cell phone buzzes. It’s Joe. He is in the car with Laura and they’re on their way to New Jersey (from Connecticut, where Debbie and I were married) to have the baby.

The rest of the day proceeded with a series of April Fool’s Day moments where I explain to everyone that, yes, we in fact lost both the best man and the matron of honor on the morning of the wedding. Otherwise, things went off without a (further) hitch. Debbie’s older sister stepped in as maid of honor and the guys in my wedding party — Dave Esau ’99, Jeff Meyer ’99 and Brett Tomlinson ’99 — ably filled in for Joe. There was dancing, food and cake, which, come to think of it, was pretty similar to how we spent my nephew’s fifth birthday, just with different music and a slightly different ambience.

Fortunately there is some record of Joe and Laura from the wedding weekend. In looking through the photos, my wife and I came across a few from the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner that show Joe and Laura, smiling and laughing. There’s also one where you can see Laura standing at the back of the church, her knees slightly bent and both hands resting on her stomach. Perhaps we should have known.

E.J. Crawford ’99 works as a writer and editor for the U.S. Tennis Association in White Plains, N.Y., and lives in Norwalk, Conn.

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