The good news, Christine Miller says, is that she’s happily married to the man she loves.
She isn’t permanently blind, as she had feared.
And she now can laugh about her recent wedding day disaster.
For crazy wedding experiences, Miller’s is hard to top.
“It’s a fun story to tell,’’ Miller said. “We spent more time together than we would have on our wedding day. In the ER, but still.’’
Yes, the emergency room. And make it three visits to emergency clinics, although just two were with new husband Jon.
Miller was trying to save money, and she thought it would be a neat touch to decorate her outdoor wedding with flowers from the couple’s newly purchased 29-acre plot of land outside Lincoln.
Little did she know that those lovely white blooms were snow-on-the-mountain, which can kill cattle if eaten in large quantities.
Miller didn’t eat the flowers, of course, and she had picked them before with no adverse reaction. But this time, she and sisters Kelsey and Katie and sister-in-law Darcy Shedeed collected enough to fill a pickup on the Thursday night before her Saturday wedding. They and Christine’s mom, Lisa Green, stayed up all night Friday creating 40 table centerpieces, four flower crowns, four corsages, seven bouquets, 10 boutonnières and 10 large floral arrangements.
Christine fell into bed at 5 a.m. and awoke at 6. She gulped down some coffee, then made a major mistake. She washed her face with her hands.
The sap residue on her hands was toxic, and she started breaking out. By 11:30 a.m. her face was so red and bumpy and her eyes so swollen that her mom took her to a nearby emergency clinic in Gretna. It was closed.
She spent the rest of that September day icing her eyes, which felt like sandpaper, and trying just about every allergy medicine she could find. At 3:30 p.m., not knowing what else to do, she donned her wedding dress for one of the fastest ceremonies ever.
Pastor Lance Burch knew Christine was in agony — it hurt even to blink — so he tried to keep it short. But they’d also forgotten the rings, so there was no unity ceremony.
That was probably a good thing, because Christine was holding a bouquet. Gorgeous, but toxic.
Christine had looked so upset when she arrived for the wedding that some guests were wondering if she had changed her mind and didn’t want to get married.
“A lot of people thought that Jon and I were fighting,’’ Christine said. “My veil dropped off twice, too. It was rough.’’
She blinked whenever she looked up at Jon; doing so hurt intensely. When she looked down at her bouquet, her eyes and nose ran. So the second the ceremony was over, Jon whisked her away to get help.
Photographer Jenny Wiese of Rocking J Imaging tried to get an artful shot of Christine running with her six bridesmaids but that didn’t work, either.
Neither did Christine’s attempt to visit an emergency clinic. Because she was newly married with a new name, her insurance paperwork was snarled. There was a long wait. So they found another, where Miller received a steroid shot, eye drops and pain medication.
Meanwhile, back at the reception, people were becoming restive. Her parents didn’t know what to tell guests. The party bus had rolled away from the Durham Museum, dinner was served and one cake was cut. Christine and Jon didn’t appear at the reception until 3½ hours after it started.
By that time, her wedding dress was long gone; Christine felt so horrid that all she wanted was a pair of comfy pajamas. Jon managed to find some at Target with a top that said “Bride.”
“He’s always been like that,’’ she said. “I can see how hard he works in keeping me happy every single day.’’
Christine did manage to dance at her wedding. But she spent the majority of the night near her grandparents, Mary and Joe Green, lying underneath the table, icing her eyes.
Still, all was not lost. Christine, 23, and Jon, 24, were married.
When Christine finally arrived at the Durham, Wiese told her that she already had scheduled another photo shoot.
Her allergic reaction cleared after a few days. The second shoot was done eight days after the wedding. It came with a cake — made by Nothing Bundt Cakes — Casey’s pizza and flowers from I Bloom. Christine said a clerk at Men’s Wearhouse, Shara Swanson, helped her re-create Jon’s wedding attire.
When those new pictures were snapped in a field — with no snow-on-the-mountain in sight — that’s when Miller finally could look back on her wedding day with a hint of a smile.
She needed to have those pictures. But all the rest of the wedding hoopla?
That’s what Christine said she took away from the whole experience: It’s not the dress and the arrangements and all the rest that makes the day. It’s the person you are marrying.
“Focus on the big picture,’’ she said. “It’s so hard to do that when you’re trying to compare your wedding to other people. You are literally getting married. We make it such a big deal in all the wrong areas.’’
Wedding Essentials Bridal University
When: Jan. 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs
Cost: $35 for VIP passes (100 available); $10 pre-sale general admission
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