Special ops bring emergency wedding together

Friday, February 14, 2003

Michelle McClure met her groom-to-be at church when she was 7 years old.

Four years later, the Cape Girardeau girl stole her first kiss from that Jackson boy at church camp.

About eight years after that -- last summer to be specific -- the two childhood friends started dating.

And now, after knowing each other almost all their lives, 19-year-old Michelle McClure and 20-year-old Noah Reese have only a few days to plan a wedding originally scheduled for May.

The couple, in a rush to marry before Reese is deployed as an Army chemical operations specialist overseas, will be married Sunday at Cape Bible Chapel, immediately following the church service.

A courthouse wedding simply wouldn't do. McClure already had her dress and the families of the bride and groom have attended the church for years, McClure said.

They had the church, the pastor and the dress. The rest is a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants operation.

McClure, talking on a cell phone Thursday while picking up a dress for her flower girl, sounded like she was fighting an uphill battle.

"I'm picking up a flower girl dress from my sister," she said. "I also have to finish ordering bridesmaid dresses. I still have to get his tux. I have to get my dress altered again. I don't have a hair appointment or a nail appointment. I don't know who is going to do that. ..."

Reese, who returned from Fort Campbell Thursday evening, expressed confidence that everything would work out fine, but not necessarily because of quickly paced planning.

"The Lord's taking care of all the details of it," he explained. "Otherwise it wouldn't be happening."

May wedding

The original wedding date was May 17, but once Reese found out he would be deployed, the date was moved up to March 29. He got word on Wednesday that he would be deployed either by the end of February or the first few days of March.

They were even going to have the wedding next Saturday, but the Army couldn't guarantee Reese a day off. Along with that, he has to report for work at 5 a.m. on Monday.

Not only does McClure have a wedding to plan for, she's also packing and moving to Tennessee on Saturday, returning Saturday night for a wedding rehearsal and dinner. She had planned to live with her husband there and had already enrolled at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., where she will continue her studies toward a degree in special education.

Mike Erzfeld, who is planning the wedding for Custom Events in Jackson, sounded like he was smiling behind his cell phone Thursday.

Charged with putting on a wedding in three days, just two days after Valentine's Day, Erzfeld said he knows he's in for a wild ride.

"We'll be decorating for the reception while the ceremony is going on," Erzfeld said. "This whole entire wedding will be planned in three days and the whole thing will be set up in an hour and a half, and it's still going to be elaborate."

But some compromises had to be made.

"It's too late to order flowers they specifically wanted," he said.

Erzfeld said the couple was lucky in that they got the colors they wanted -- purple and white -- especially since the flower shops were so busy with Valentine's Day today.

To make matters more interesting, the church cannot be decorated until Sunday because of a women's conference taking place at the church Saturday.

The stress has already gotten to McClure, she said, but Erzfeld said he hasn't noticed it.

"They're just being real laid-back," he said. "They know it's not going to be flawless, but they want to get married before he gets shipped out."



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