While marriage entails one of life's most carefully considered decisions, weddings involve making hundreds more. So as long as you're going to all that trouble, why not make it as memorable as possible?
Here's how a number of interesting people took their romantic plunge, and some ideas about how you can custom-tailor the wedding of your dreams.
Italian "I do"
When a West Coast couple couldn't agree on the number of wedding guests, they came up with a simple solution: Get married in Europe. Eve Miller chose Florence, according to her mother, because it sounded "romantic." What no one figured on, of course, was just how complicated romance can be.
For one thing, says the mother of the bride, in Italy, unless you're Catholic and are married by a priest, you must have a civil ceremony. But the family wanted a Jewish ceremony which meant not only having two weddings, but finding a rabbi to perform one of them.
"Every rabbi we talked to said, `Why doesn't she get married [in the United States] and then go?'" says her father, Dr. Arlyn Miller of Philadelphia. "But no. They wanted to be married there."
To make matters even more complicated, all the rabbis in Italy are Sephardic as well as Orthodox, he says. Aside from the fact that the groom had converted to Judaism, the rabbi in Florence would not perform the ceremony because he said he didn't know the couple well enough. The rabbi in Siena was no more helpful.
"Someone told me if I couldn't get the rabbi in Florence or Siena, maybe the rabbi in Pisa would do it," he says. "But the rabbi in Pisa said he couldn't do it because it would insult the rabbi in Florence."
After exhausting the Italian rabbinate, the family found a rabbi in London who was willing to perform the ceremony, and they flew him in for the wedding.
Unfortunately for the Miller family, that was only the beginning of love Italian-style. The night before the civil ceremony was to take place at City Hall in Florence, the Ufizzi Gallery, which just happened to be next door, was bombed by terrorists. All the Friday weddings were canceled until Monday. But when Monday rolled around, the schedule was already booked with Monday weddings, the room at City Hall still needed to be cleaned out, the judge was tied up at the beauty salon and the required witness had gone off to Venice.
Eve Miller and her fiancé eventually tied the knot. Twice. At which point, says Arlyn Miller, "the bride and groom took off on a honeymoon, my son took his nephew on a tour and I went to a spa to revive myself."
In case you think some people don't find the East Coast romantic, here's what Beth Mostovoy chose to do for her wedding. Now living in Redwood City, the former Philadelphian chose to fly 3,000 miles in the other direction to be married to Kraig Kurucz on the beach in Margate, N.J., near an old friend, Lucy the Elephant.
The town of Margate cleaned the beach in honor of the occasion and gave the guests special parking privileges. More than that, over 100 friends and family members from across the country faithfully set their clocks the night before for the wedding, which took place at sunrise. Residents at Oakland's Home for Jewish Parents, where Mostovoy is activities director, made the chuppah.
It wasn't until the bride, ketubah in hand, got back to California and went to register her marriage that she learned she wasn't legally married because she had failed to get a New Jersey marriage license. Mostovoy, Kurucz and Mostovoy's parents, Myron and Pauline Mostovoy, met a year later at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas to set the matter straight.
Squaw Valley serenade
Some people can find a romantic spot closer to home. Mindy Miller, who lives with her husband, Don Grabski, in the Silicon Valley city of Campbell, chose to be married at Squaw Valley because Grabski loves the outdoors and wanted to be married on top of a mountain.
High Camp at Squaw Valley, with its panoramic view from 8,200 feet, was happy to accommodate them. The ceremony at noon, on the deck at High Camp, was spectacular from any point of view. While the wedding took place in 75-degree July weather, the couple were surrounded by skiers still tackling the mountain.
From the time Debbie Blum was very young, she was a super athlete. So when she met her husband, Andy Katz, another sports fanatic, she had no interest in a traditional wedding.
Gwen Blum took her daughter's wishes to heart and rented Twin Oaks Day Camp in Warrington, Pa., As soon as the ceremony, complete with two rabbis, was over, Debbie Blum threw her shoes up in the air and she and her new husband ran to the basketball court to shoot baskets. The bridal party followed.
If the thought of getting married gives you butterflies , listen to what Matt Crowther and Betsy Abrams of Atlanta did. Both members of American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), an international network of people who travel around the world riding roller-coasters, they had definite ideas about where to take the plunge.
The bridal party, close friends, family and the officiator were seated aboard the Cannonball at Lake Winnepesaukah in Chattanooga, Tenn., while a few hundred enthusiasts watched from the ground.