My Big Fat Jailhouse Wedding

Our whole wedding party was busted!

Our wedding rehearsal and dinner were over. Soon I’d be Mrs. Richard Carr, married to the man of my dreams in the wedding I’d planned since I was old enough to know what a wedding was.

Rick walked me from the restaurant to my car. I lectured him all the way there. “Don’t let your bachelor party get out of hand,” I said. “It’s okay to have one last night on the town with the boys, but if you get pulled over for drunk driving and taken to jail, it’ll ruin everything.”

“Jamie, I’m not going to let anything spoil tomorrow,” he said. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. At eleven tomorrow morning I’m going to be standing in the church, waiting for you to amaze me when you walk down the aisle.”

“I hate that we have to have the wedding so early. It barely gives me enough time to get my hair and nails done. And the reception is going to be rushed, too.”

“I’m sorry, but the only flight I could afford leaves at three-thirty in the afternoon. And we have a forty-five minute drive to the airport.”

It had been our dream to honeymoon in Hawaii, but we were on a tight budget. Rick had graduated just six months earlier and was still on the bottom rung of the ladder when it came to the pay scale. He’d been lucky to get a week off.

At that moment, from across the parking lot, my maid of honor and soon-to-be-former-roommate called to me. “Hey, Jamie! Ashley asked me to drive her car. She’s had a bit too much champagne. Mind if she rides with you? I have a stop to make.”

“Not a problem,” I said. Ashley was another of my bridesmaids. She’d also jumped at the chance to move in with Dorrie after I moved out.

Rick kissed me good night. “Do you realize this is our last kiss as single people?”

I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. “No, darling, that was our last kiss as single people. Go join your friends . . . and behave yourself.”

He chuckled as he walked toward the guys. Ashley and I got into my car and started for the apartment. It was a thirty-minute drive from the city. Because rent was cheaper, Dorrie and I had found a place in a rural part of the county.

Driving home, I noticed that Ashley didn’t seem so intoxicated. But who was I to assume how she felt? Maybe she didn’t show it as much as other people. We chatted about the rehearsal, our dresses, and the wedding in general. When I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised to see several familiar cars.

“Ash, what’s going on?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she insisted.

I unlocked the door. The lights went on, and eight of my closest friends jumped from hiding places and yelled, “Surprise!”

Dorrie rushed to me and gave me a hug. “You didn’t think we were going to neglect you on your last night as a single woman, did you? Why don’t you and Ashley change into something more comfortable? Then the party can begin.”

Everyone else was in casual clothes, so I slipped into jeans and a T-shirt. I stepped out of my bedroom and joined my friends. On the dining room table sat a large punch bowl. I didn’t even have to ask what was in it. Dorrie was known far and wide for her concoction known as “Hunch Punch,” a combination of Everclear, one hundred-proof vodka, rum, and some fruity things to disguise the taste.

Dorrie handed me a tall plastic cup filled with punch. “Come on, Jamie, you’re two drinks behind! Gotta catch up.”

“I don’t know if drinking is a good idea. I’d hate to have a hangover tomorrow.”

“You have to have a drink. This is your bachelorette party. Now drink up and enjoy your very last night of freedom.”

What could I say? They’d all come to celebrate with me. Though I really wanted to get to bed early, the least I could do to show my appreciation was to have a drink or two with my girlfriends.

Everyone refilled their cups and we crowded into the living room, most taking seats on the floor. Each one made a toast to me. Afterward, there were presents, mostly lingerie guaranteed to make Rick’s eyes glow. By that time we were all in good spirits. I even accepted another cup of Hunch Punch as we sat around joking and swapping stories.

Someone turned on music and the party kicked into high gear. We cleared the living room of most of its furniture and began dancing. Our giggles and screams were deafening. At eleven, we heard a knock at the door. Ashley and Dorrie exchanged a look and smiled.

“I’ll get it,” Ashley said.

At the door was a deputy sheriff. Eden, another of my friends, leaned over to Dorrie and said, “I thought we ordered a cowboy.”

“I guess someone screwed up,” Dorrie said. “You gotta admit, though, the sheriff is pretty cute.” She walked to the door and grabbed the deputy’s hand. “Thank goodness you’re here, Deputy. We’ve been very naughty girls—and that one is the naughtiest of all!” She pointed at me.

“Ladies, there have been complaints about the noise,” he said.

Dorrie clicked her tongue. “Oh, my! I guess that means you’re going to have to punish us. Better whip out your handcuffs, because we plan to get even louder.”

Ashley grabbed his hat and put it on. “That’s a big gun you’re carrying, but I bet your concealed weapon is even bigger!”

“Lady, please give me my hat back,” the deputy said.

“Only if you show us your concealed weapon,” Ashley reiterated. “Come on, let’s turn up the music and get jiggy with it.” She put her arms around the deputy’s neck and started grinding into him.

Everyone in the room burst out laughing. Someone turned the music up, and we surrounded the deputy. Each took a turn at dancing with him. Dorrie moved in, reached for his zipper, and said, “Whatcha packing there, Deputy? Come on and give us a treat. Take off your clothes and get comfortable—”

“Stop it!” he yelled. “Keep your hands off me! Now turn down the noise and behave yourselves, or I’m calling for backup.”

“Please, oh, please call for backup! The more the merrier.” Dorrie unbuttoned a button on his shirt. He pulled her hand away and fulfilled his threat. He called for backup.

Okay, I confess, we were all a bit past drunk. Otherwise, I’d have never done what I did. I grabbed his cuffs, cuffed one of his hands, and put the other half on Dorrie.

“We’ve got you now,” I said. “Show us some skin.”

“Lady, if you and your friends don’t leave me alone, I’m taking you in.”

“Road trip!” Ashley shouted. Everyone laughed and applauded.

“Let’s give our visitor a drink, put on some sexy music, and get him in a good mood,” Annette, one of the secretaries where I worked, said. “I’d just love to snuggle up in those big, muscular arms.”

“I’d like a lap dance,” Eden said. “I’ve got money, Deputy, but you’re going to have to take off those pants before I give it to you.”

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you that bribing a deputy was against the law?” he said.

There was a knock on the door. Ashley was closest, so she answered it. Two more deputies stepped inside.

“We heard there was a situation here,” one of them said.

“Not anymore,” Ashley said. “Come on in and have some fun.”

The two men moved through the room toward the deputy, handcuffed to Dorrie. “Collins, what the hell is going on?” the older one asked.

“I came because neighbors were complaining about noise. Soon as I got here, these women started roughing me up.” He pointed to me. “That one cuffed me to this lady. They took my hat and were going for my gun.”

Why we didn’t realize that these men were not strippers can only be blamed on the Hunch Punch. We snickered and giggled, thinking it was part of the act, and at any minute they’d pull out a CD and the show would begin.

Eden converged on the younger, more attractive deputy. She grabbed his hat and arm, trying to pull him to the middle of the floor. He jerked free of her.

“Stop it,” he ordered in a growl.

“Oh, are you going to be mean? I feel like dancing. Don’t you want to dance with me? Come on, take off that nasty old gun, let down your pants, shed your shirt, and let’s dance real slow. I’ll give you your hat back if you show me a good time.”

The other girls surrounded the older deputy. He seemed a bit old for a stripper, but what the heck? He was there, the party was in full swing, and all of us were having fun, thinking it was a big game.

“We need the wagon,” he said. “I’ll call for it.”

He made a call. I thought it sounded fake, like something you’d hear on a second-rate cop show. Ashley brought the three men cups of punch. They all refused it. Not to be put off, she grabbed for the older deputy’s handcuffs. He wrestled them from her hands.

“Ladies, I want all of you to sit down!” he yelled over the loud music.

Now that was more like it! It meant the floor show was about to begin.

“Do you have some special music you’d like?” I asked. “Or did you bring your own?”

He didn’t answer. First he unlocked the handcuffs and freed the guy they called Collins from Dorrie, then he stormed across the room and unplugged the CD player. A few girls were still standing. He pulled out his gun and told them to sit down.

Once everyone was seated he said, “You have the right to remain silent. . . . ”

It was then that I knew we’d made a mistake.

The older deputy finished reciting our rights. A few girls giggled, thinking it was part of the act, but I knew we were in trouble. I hushed my friends and tried to explain things.

“Please, we made a mistake,” I began.

“You have no idea what a big mistake you made, missy,” said the older one. “We’re booking you on lewd and lascivious conduct, assaulting and sexually harassing a deputy sheriff, disturbing the peace, and anything else we can think of on the drive to the county lockup.”

The van, which he’d called “the wagon,” arrived a couple of minutes later. All ten of us girls were handcuffed and led out of the apartment. I glanced at the clock. It was a minute to midnight.

I couldn’t stay in jail long. My wedding was at eleven! There was so much to do. I hadn’t even finished packing for my honeymoon.

As we reached the van a car pulled up and a guy dressed like a cowboy got out. Dorrie groaned. “Now he shows up!”

“Well, what did you expect?” Eden asked. “We told him we wanted him to be a Midnight Cowboy—and it’s midnight.”

“Look, this isn’t my fault,” Dorrie snapped. “Everyone else thought the deputy was a stripper, too.”

“I’m just saying that if you ordered a cowboy to come at midnight, what made you think a deputy, who showed up an hour early, was our stripper?”

“Eden, you thought so, too, so get off my back!”

The deputy sitting shotgun in the front looked through the metal bars and ordered, “Muzzle yourselves, unless you want more charges added.”

Eden and Dorrie stopped arguing and merely glared at each other. I was too miserable to care. What would Rick think? I’d warned him about behaving himself at his bachelor party, and now I was on my way to jail.

It took almost three hours to book all of us. We were given orange jumpsuits, told to shower and change, and were subjected to a cavity search by a jail matron, who was the reincarnation of a Nazi storm trooper. Each time we asked a question, such as when we’d be released on bail or get to make our phone call, we were told that someone else was in charge of those things.

Next we were put into a large holding cell with three other women. There were cots and some chairs. I hurried to one of the cots. Surely we’d be able to make our phone calls soon, and someone would come bail us out. If possible, I wanted to get a little sleep.

“Wake me when we get to make our phone calls,” I said.

Sleeping under those conditions was impossible—especially when one of the women who’d been in the cell before us complained that she’d been arrested for prostitution at nine and still hadn’t gotten to make a call or see a judge.

“But we have to get out of here,” Dorrie said. “Jamie is getting married at eleven.”

“Babe,” the prostitute said, “sorry to break it to you, but even if you called President Bush, he couldn’t help you. On weekends there’s only one judge, and he won’t be here until twelve noon.”

“Isn’t there someone else who can handle his duties?” I asked.

She laughed. “You’re a virgin.”

“That’s nothing I would discuss with a stranger,” I said.

The prostitute grinned at me like I was a child who’d just said something cute. “This is your first time in jail. That’s what I meant.”

I felt warmth on my face, the start of a blush. “Yes, this is my first time. And it’ll also be my last.”

“What are you chicks in for?”

Ashley replied, “Trying to strip a deputy. There are lots of other things they charged us with, but basically it was trying to make a deputy take his clothes off and dance for us.”

The prostitute whistled. “Was he undercover?”

“No, he was in full uniform. We were all pretty drunk. When he showed up at the party, we thought the company we’d hired our stripper from had screwed up and sent a deputy instead of a cowboy.”

“I guess you could say that there were extenuating circumstances,” the prostitute suggested.

“To heck with that,” Eden said. “I want my lawyer.”

“Let’s get somebody back here and insist on our phone calls!” Dorrie said.

She and five other girls began yelling and banging on the bars. For the longest time, no one came. When someone finally showed to check out why there was so much noise, everyone started talking at once about making their calls.

“Ladies, we have one phone that’s used for calls. It’s used on a priority basis. You’ll all get your turn. We’re almost through with the men we busted at the basketball game. Next the women who were here before you get their turn. Then the rest of you will be taken in alphabetical order, since you were brought in at the same time.”

“What are we supposed to do in the meantime?” I asked. “I’m getting married at eleven this morning.”

The jailer shook his head. “Sorry, but you’re not going anywhere until bail is set, and the judge is out of town. He won’t be in until twelve.”

“That’s not right,” I told him. “Surely, there’s someone else who can substitute for him. We do have constitutional rights, you know.”

“Yeah, we know. And bail will be set as soon as the judge comes in. Everybody will be taken before him in the order they were arrested.”

“Then we might not get out of here until two in the afternoon,” I protested, tears filling my eyes. “Can’t you make this one exception? My wedding is—”

“Something you should have thought about before getting drunk and assaulting a deputy. Look, every person in this place wants out of here as much as you do.”

He walked away. I knew that the wedding of my dreams had turned into my worst nightmare. I wouldn’t walk down the aisle in my gorgeous white dress; Rick and I wouldn’t exchange vows in front of our friends and family. We wouldn’t have a champagne toast or cut the six-layer wedding cake, or dance our first waltz.

Now the only thing we’d be able to manage was the honeymoon, and even that was on shaky ground. I collapsed on the cot and sobbed. The prostitute came and sat beside me.

“What’s your name, kid?” she asked.


“Hi, Jamie. I’m Krystal. I was just thinking . . . you know, it doesn’t matter now when I get out, but you need to let someone know what’s going on with you. If you were going to call one person, who would it be?”

I thought of my father, but hearing that the wedding he’d gone into debt to pay for wasn’t going to happen might give him a heart attack. Mom would be even worse. Rick would never forgive me. Who could help? Who could contact the others and explain everything so that, hopefully, they would understand? It was a toss-up between the wedding planner and our minister.

Dad hated the wedding planner, because she’d shamed him into more debt by insisting on specific florists and caterers, as well as a dozen other things. Besides, if he really did collapse at the news, having a minister handy there would be helpful.

“Reverend Carmichael,” I said. “He’s our minister. If anyone would know how to handle this delicately, he’s the one.”

“Okay, here’s what I’m going to do,” Krystal said. “I’m first in line for my phone call. You give me the minister’s phone number. I’ll call him and explain what happened.”

“You’d really do that for me?”

“I have a soft spot when it comes to weddings . . . and for girls in trouble. Sure, Jamie, I’ll do it for you. Let’s have the number.”

“We don’t have anything to write it on.”

“Sing it to me. That way, I’ll remember it.”

I sang the phone number a couple of times to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Krystal began singing it with me.

Twenty minutes later, Krystal got her phone call. My heart beat like a fast running engine as I waited for her to come back. When she was let into the cell she came to me, smiling.

“It’s all right, sweetie,” she said. “Reverend Carmichael said he’d contact everyone and see what could be worked out. I told him about the judge, and that setting bail should take awhile. He said not to worry. Even that can be worked out.”

I hugged Krystal. “I’ll never be able to thank you enough,” I said.

“Bring me a souvenir from your honeymoon. I can usually be found weekends at the Cat’s Paw on Dock Street. Merchant marines are my biggest customers.”

“You can count on it.”

I tried once more to sleep, but my mind was racing. What if Rick decided not to marry me? What if Dad and Mom disowned me? I wouldn’t have blamed them at all. And the guests—there was no way everyone could be contacted.

Five o’clock rolled around. It took twenty minutes before members of my group began making their calls. Eden was first. She came back with tears in her eyes, curled up on a cot, and wouldn’t say anything.

At seven I got my phone call. “Krystal, would you like for me to call someone for you, since you used your call for me?”

“No, go ahead and see what’s happening,” she said.

I dialed my parents first. The machine answered. “Deputy, please let me try another number. I got an answering machine.”

“Make it quick.”

This time I dialed Rick’s number. No one answered. I turned carefully so the deputy wouldn’t see me and pretended to be talking as I dialed Rick’s cellular phone. It, too, went to voicemail.

“I still haven’t gotten anyone. Could I call my minister?”

“Lady, after everyone else has their turn, I’ll let you try again. But for now, sorry.”

He escorted me back to the cell. Ashley was next. She was gone for five minutes. When she came back, she was crying.

“I called my sister,” Ashley explained. “She jumped on my case, said she didn’t want to hear it, and hung up on me.”

“Sounds like my mom,” Eden said. “Only she didn’t hang up on me. She just told me what a disgrace I was for ending up in jail. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, she was so hysterical.”

Dorrie went next. When she returned, she seemed a bit more optimistic. “I talked to my lawyer and he told me that he couldn’t do anything until bail was set. He’s coming down at noon. He told me that people with attorneys get to go before the judge first. Maybe my lawyer can represent all of us and we can get out of here faster.”

“Way to go, Dorrie,” some of the other girls said. “At least we have a little hope.”

The jailer brought breakfast from a fast-food restaurant—eggs on biscuits and black coffee. Everything was cold, but I didn’t care; I ate it anyway. I’ve always been the sort of person who eats when I’m nervous, and I’d never been more nervous in my entire life.

I watched the clock ticking off the minutes on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life.

Right now, I would have been putting on my wedding gown. My mother would cry when she looked at me, and hopefully Dad would think it was worth all of the expense. But I wasn’t putting on my gown; I was sitting on a smelly cot in the county jail, wearing an orange jumpsuit that was a size too big.

“Jamie, I’m so sorry,” Dorrie said. “You didn’t want a bachelorette party. It was all my and Ashley’s idea to throw it. And how stupid we were when the deputy came. Any fool could have seen he wasn’t a stripper. I promise, I’ll talk to your family and Rick and take the blame for everything.”

“Don’t worry about it, Dorrie. They’d never understand. I should have had one glass of punch, opened my gifts, chatted with the guests, and gone to bed by twelve. I was as responsible as anyone for what happened.”

The jailer came in. “Which one of you hellcats is Jamie Baxter?”

“That’s me,” I said, thinking maybe he’d let me make another phone call.

“Some people are here to see you. Ordinarily we wouldn’t allow it, but Reverend Carmichael knows Sheriff Duffy and called in a favor.”

“Reverend Carmichael is here?”

The jailer unlocked the cell and I stepped out. He led me down the hall, past booking, and into an interrogation room.

I gasped as I walked in. Rick, my parents, his parents, Mrs. Miller, the wedding planner, and Reverend Carmichael greeted me. I hugged Rick and began apologizing.

“It’s okay, Jamie. Reverend Carmichael explained everything. He and Mrs. Miller have dealt with the guests. They’ve all gone to the hotel where the reception’s being held. Since we have to wait for the judge to set bail, we figured it would be wise to go ahead and have the wedding here.”

“In the county lockup? Rick, look at me. I’m a horror.”

“Honey, we either get married here or we’ll have to get married some other time, and it won’t be a big wedding. We won’t have a Hawaiian honeymoon, either. It’s too late to cancel the tickets. We’ll lose all the money I paid.”

“Daddy, I’m sorry for everything I cost you,” I said.

“Just get married and have a happy life. Rick is right, though. I can’t afford to pay for a second wedding.”

“Then I guess we’ll get married here. All my bridesmaids are on hand, and even a few guests. Some secretaries where I work and my new friend, Krystal.”

“Yes, the young woman who called me,” Reverend Carmichael said. “She was quite remarkable and she conveyed every detail so well that all I had to do was make phone calls.”

“Can they come to the wedding?” I asked.

“Let me see what we can work out,” he said.

Reverend Carmichael left the room. Ten minutes later he was back. “This room is too small for additional people. Jamie, what would you think about having the wedding in the holding pen? We have permission to set up chairs in the corridor. The only catch is, the jailer insists on keeping the door to the holding pen locked.”

“I don’t care. I just want to get married.”

“Jamie,” Mrs. Miller offered, “I’ve brought some flowers and the unity candle. We’ll need a few minutes to set them up.”

Not knowing what to say, I looked at Reverend Carmichael. He answered her. “I think we can manage that. I’ll go talk to the deputy on desk duty.”

I looked down at my rumpled jumpsuit. “I never imagined I’d be married in something like this.”

“You won’t,” Mom said. “I brought your dress, shoes, and veil. Give me a couple of minutes to talk to the jailer. I think we can convince him to let you put this on for fifteen minutes.”

How they did it all, I’ll never know, but Mrs. Miller managed to set up an altar, complete with flowers. She instructed Dad and Mr. Carr in how to arrange the chairs so that an aisle was formed. Ashley, Dorrie and Eden, my bridesmaids, would all have their bouquets.

And I got to wear my wedding dress. The female guard who’d done the cavity searches watched me constantly as I dressed. She probably thought I’d pull a gun from my veil and make a jail break.

Mom came to help me with last-minute details, such as makeup and hair. Afterward the jail matron patted me down and then inspected all of the bouquets.

I heard music and looked at Mom. “Mrs. Miller brought a CD player,” she said. “She has a wedding music CD for emergencies.”

Dad knocked on the door. “Honey, are you ready? We don’t have much time.” When I opened the door and he saw me, his eyes misted over. “Jamie, you’re beautiful. The dress was worth every cent we paid.”

He kissed my cheek and then lowered the veil over my face. Mom handed me my bouquet and then went to take her chair on the front row. On the other side of the narrow aisle sat Rick’s mom. His dad was his best man.

Ashley walked down the aisle first, dressed in her orange jumpsuit and carrying a lovely bouquet of yellow and white roses that would have matched her bridesmaid’s gown had she gotten to wear it. Next was Eden, and then Dorrie, my maid of honor.

Mrs. Miller punched up a short version of “The Bridal March.” Dad and I squeezed our way down the aisle. Reverend Miller was dressed in his robes, and held a burgundy bound Bible.

He began the service, though speaking a bit faster than I’d ever heard him speak. When he reached, “Who gives this woman to be married?” Dad hurriedly answered, lifted my veil, kissed me again, and handed me over to Rick.

We exchanged traditional wedding vows. There was no time for the vows we’d written. Reverend Carmichael pronounced us man and wife. Rick kissed me, and we turned toward the guests.

“Unity candle,” Mrs. Miller said in a low voice.

Reverend Carmichael had forgotten, and with so much going on and the clock ticking, I’d forgotten, too. We lit the unity candle.

“May I be the first to present Mr. and Mrs. Richard Carr,” Reverend Carmichael said.

Everyone clapped. Rick and I walked down the aisle. Waiting for me was the jail matron. She took my bouquet and searched through it.

“Now you have to change back into your jumpsuit,” she said. “You incarcerated women, back into the holding cell. As for everyone else, get these flowers and things out of here. This isn’t a wedding chapel—it’s a jail.”

“I think we all know that,” I said indignantly and started for the room where I’d previously changed. The matron tried to rush me, but I took my time and hung up my dress and veil with the greatest of care. “May my mother come and get these?”

She hesitated, then shrugged. “Two minutes.”

“Thank you.” I wished I could punch her in the mouth. Retaining my cool was an effort, but I didn’t want more charges added to the others, and most of the deputies had been very nice about the wedding.

Mom took the dress. There were tears in her eyes. “Honey, you’ll be out of here soon. I have your going-away suit in my car, and I finished packing for you. Rick has your suitcases. If we can get you out of here, you’ll be able to stop by the reception long enough to cut the cake and drink some champagne.”

“You and Dad were wonderful about all this. It was a stupid thing that we did. Please make sure Rick is okay.”

“We’re not leaving, Jamie. As soon as the judge shows up, this matter is going to be set straight. Reverend Carmichael will see to it, and we also got a phone call from an attorney named Jacobs who says he’s representing Dorrie. He’s due soon.”

“Ladies, time’s up!” the matron yelled.

“Mom, get out of here before she finds some reason to book you.” I kissed my mother. “See you soon, I hope.”

I was returned to the holding cell. Krystal sauntered over to me. “You were a beautiful bride,” she said.

“Only because of your kindness. Thank you so much for everything you did.”

“The preacher’s the one to thank. We chatted a bit about the problem. I have a lot of personal knowledge about how this place runs. He was able to capitalize on it.”

“But you called him for me, and you kept your cool. I’d have cried like a baby and nothing would have been accomplished.”

“Jamie,” Dorrie said, “If Oprah or Montel ever do a show on tacky bridesmaid dresses, I’m calling them and telling them about this wedding. Really, orange isn’t my color.”

“Mine, either,” Eden said. “But Ashley looked cute.”

“Shut up, you two!” I cried. “You wouldn’t have had to wear the jumpsuits if you hadn’t plied me with Hunch Punch!”

The door opened. “All you hussies who assaulted Deputy Collins, follow me,” the matron said.

She unlocked the cell and we filed out. Then she did a head count. When she reached ten, she nodded and directed us toward the door. I could still smell roses and carnations where the flowers had been a short time before.

We were shackled and cuffed and taken to a courtroom across the street. Rick and my parents were there, as were Reverend Carmichael and a man I didn’t know. Dorrie leaned close to me and whispered, “That’s Mr. Jacobs, my attorney.”

On the bench sat Judge Rifkin. He looked close to falling asleep. The prosecutor sat fiddling with some papers. Mr. Jacobs walked to the other table and opened his leather briefcase.

“Who are you representing, Mr. Jacobs?”

“These ten ladies, Your Honor. They were arrested at the same time and on the same charges.”

The judge read over the charges. “Pretty serious stuff here.”
“I’ll decide if I agree or not.”“It was a huge misunderstanding, and I think you will agree when you hear our story.”

I was worried. The judge didn’t seem in a good mood.

The prosecutor stood. “Your Honor, I’ve reviewed the charges and recommend a thousand dollars’ bail for each woman.”

Oh, Lord. None of us have that kind of money, I thought.

Mr. Jacobs then stood and began telling the story of my bachelorette fiasco. He explained that we’d been confused when Deputy Collins showed up, thinking he was the stripper that was ordered. At one point I saw a slight grin on the judge’s face and was filled with hope that maybe things would turn out okay.

“Any of these women ever been in trouble before?” Judge Rifkin asked.“No. Not even a parking ticket among the lot of them.”Judge Rifkin sat pondering the situation for a few minutes. “I think this was just a big mistake, though it was a serious one. We’ll compromise; there will be no bail, I’ll release them on probation. That means they can’t sexually harass a deputy sheriff for five years. But if any one of them gets caught acting disorderly again, I will impose jail time. So, ladies, keep your music down and your hands to yourselves.”The prosecutor didn’t object. I doubt that he even cared. We were set free from our shackles and cuffs. I hurried to thank Mr. Jacobs. “Please, send me the bill for your fee,” I said.“Consider it a wedding present, Mrs. Carr. And congratulations. Seems you got yourself a really good guy. You already had great friends. Now stay out of trouble.” He kissed my cheek. “I had to kiss the bride,” he said and smiled.

Mom took my arm. “We can make the reception. I’ll get your suit and you can dress here, then ride over with Rick. The girls can ride with the rest of us.”

I changed, along with everyone else. I handed in my jumpsuit and reclaimed my personal possessions, including my engagement ring. After the ceremony I’d had to give the matron my wedding ring. I asked about it.

Rick stepped up and put his arm around me. “I have your ring, sweetheart. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Can’t leave fast enough for me.” Then I turned to my friends. “Don’t worry about how you’re dressed.” They had on jeans, T-shirts, and tennis shoes. “Come to the reception. After last night and today, anything goes.”

Krystal was at the desk, making bail. She called to me, wishing me every happiness.

“Why don’t you come to the reception?” I suggested. “Winfield Hotel, main ballroom. You’re more than welcome.”

“I just might do that,” she said.

Rick and I hurried to his car, drove to the hotel, parked, and rushed into the hotel. We entered the reception hall and everyone clapped as we made our way through the crowd. Mrs. Miller eased her way beside me.

“We’ve been giving them drinks and food, so don’t worry about their being bored waiting for you to get here.”

Rick and I walked arm in arm to the table where our gorgeous wedding cake awaited. Champagne was poured for everyone. Toasts were made by Rick’s dad, my dad, and Dorrie.

We drank the wine, cut the cake, and delicately fed each other a bite. Music started to play. It was our waltz. Rick took my hand and led me to the dance floor. Guests circled us to watch our first dance together as man and wife.

When Rick dipped me and pulled me to my feet he whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” I said.

“Honey, if we don’t leave now, we could miss the plane.”

“I’m ready to go.”

Mom was standing close to the dance floor. I told her we had to leave. “Wait a second. You haven’t tossed your bouquet. And what about the garter? I’ve got it. Go to the ladies’ room and put it on.”

“Rick, Mom insists we toss the garter and bouquet,” I said. “We’ll make it fast.”

I went to the ladies’ room, slipped on the garter, and returned to the reception. In the middle of the dance floor a chair was set up. The band began playing “The Stripper.” Catching the irony caused me burst into hysterical laughter. It was a stripper who’d started my night of hell.

Holding out my right leg, Rick slid his hand to my thigh and grabbed the garter. He held it up for everyone to see. The single guys let out a cheer. Rick pulled the garter, stretching it, and let it fly. His best friend from work caught it.

“Bouquet!” the girls shouted.

Rick helped me to my feet. Mom handed me the bouquet. Single girls formed a line. I turned my back and tossed the flowers. There were screams and I could hear them struggling to capture the bouquet. I turned to see who’d come up with it.

To my utter surprise, Krystal stood there holding it. I was glad to see her and happy that she was the one who’d caught my bouquet.

With no more time left to waste, we ran for Rick’s car amid a swirl of birdseed. Fortunately, we made the plane on time. As I buckled my seatbelt for takeoff I let out a heavy sigh. It was the first relaxing moment I’d had all day. Rick took my hand, kissed me on the lips, and smiled.

“I think our honeymoon is going to be wonderful,” he said.

“At least I won’t get arrested for sexually harassing a deputy sheriff.”

Rick and I laughed together. Ours had been the least traditional wedding ever. One thing’s for sure, we’ll never forget out big, fat jailhouse wedding!