Love finds a way, despite the storm

After Shore wedding was foiled, Mercedes Kraus and David Fonorow went inland.
After Shore wedding was foiled, Mercedes Kraus and David Fonorow went inland. (CAITLIN SCOTT STAIANO)

The beach may be a washout, but the wedding wasn't.

Posted: November 05, 2012

Sandy would not have been the first woman to disrupt a wedding, but Mercedes Kraus and David Fonorow weren't going to let her interfere.

Kraus and Fonorow, both of Hoboken, N.J., were married on Saturday - not just in spite of Sandy, but because of it.

"For a lot of guests, it's going to be a time to break away from tragedy and come out with family and friends and have this happy time for celebration," Kraus, 24, said Friday. "It's not just about us anymore. It's about everyone coming together to celebrate all the good things."

Kraus had been planning her wedding to Fonorow, 23, for more than two years. The high school sweethearts were engaged in April 2010, and they won a wedding package at a Long Beach Island wedding road show in 2011, she said. The $18,000 package included almost everything, she said, including venue, flowers, catering, invitations, and photographer.

Then came Sandy, and the plans for a beach wedding at the Tuckerton Seaport Museum at the Jersey Shore were washed out by the storm.

Wedding planner Caitlin Boshnack of Just Be the Bride in Voorhees was able to make preparations before the storm hit, and the couple agreed to move the wedding to the Duportail House in Chester County.

"It was supposed to just be a Plan B," Fonorow said. "We had everything set up for our beach-themed wedding and we don't have time to remake everything. So we're going to have lighthouses in the middle of trees. So that'll be a little strange, a beach-themed wedding in a park."

Kraus' family has a beach house in Manahawkin, on the Shore, which was damaged by floodwaters several feet high. And about 30 guests had called to say they could no longer make it. In some cases, they couldn't drive the long distance, with still-widespread power outages knocking out traffic lights and streetlights. One friend couldn't fly in from Chicago, because he had a layover in New York that could no longer happen.

A wedding may seem odd to have amid the chaos and destruction, Fonorow said, but he hopes it will bring some happiness in a time of sadness.

"It's just a good way to escape the reality of what's going on," Fonorow said. "Some of our friends still don't have power. At least they can have a hot meal at the wedding. We hope that they can forget about it for at least one night."

The popular Cape May wedding spot Congress Hall saw one wedding canceled the Sunday before Sandy hit, Chamber of Commerce president John Cooke said by Twitter. But other weddings were still on, and Friday saw one group dancing into the night.

Amanda Fleming and Michael Lowry made contingency plans to be married at the home of Fleming's parents in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, Fleming said, with her uncle Pete Scirrotto - the mayor of Mantua - officiating.

Andy Macfadden, a relative who flew in from Switzerland for the wedding, said everyone had been nervous about the wedding but continued to hold out hope the ceremony would go on as planned.

Friday, those hopes were realized - Fleming and Lowry were married at Congress Hall that afternoon.

"It was such a huge relief," Fleming said, moments after being wed, about being able to have the wedding outdoors in Cape May. "We were ecstatic."

And it's not just brides, grooms, and wedding guests who look forward to having a brief respite from flooding and FEMA.

"I've been in tears all morning," Ventnor-based violinist Catherine Boyd said by phone Friday afternoon. "Atlantic City is opening, I took my work clothes and my instruments with me when we evacuated. We took both our cars. I have all the instruments I need to perform my job this weekend. We're going to be able to drive to Cape May to do a ceremony, but we can't get back to our own homes."

Boyd said she had been unable to sleep because she had not been able to get into Ventnor to check on her home. Her husband, Steve Kuzma, is an artist who has not been able to check on his gallery and art, she said, which has caused her a lot of anxiety. (Restrictions on access to Ventnor were lifted Friday afternoon.)

But the show must go on, Boyd said, and she is excited for weddings she is scheduled to play.

"I actually need a happy distraction. I am looking forward to this wedding because I need to put it all aside for a while and focus on somebody else's happiness," Boyd said, before tears interrupted.

Voice wavering and audibly choked up, Boyd continued:

"I've been playing since I was 5. I can play whatever you want. I don't get frazzled. We're fine, I'm fine, I will be able to do it, and it'll sound beautiful. I'm looking forward to this. I'm really looking forward to this."


Contact Jonathan Lai

at 215-854-2771, jlai@philly.com, or on Twitter @elaijuh.

Staff writer Sean Carlin contributed to this article.

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