Elise McIntosh-Levy, NJ

Critically Acclaimed Writer

As an editor, journalist and book author with 12 years’ experience, Elise has a passion for storytelling. Through Mark My Memories, a personal biography service, she helps clients pen, polish and publish their memoirs for both public and private publication. She has also worked as an editor/features writer at a daily New York City newspaper for more than a decade and is the co-author of Unconquered: A Tale of a Girl’s Survival During the Holocaust.

As a Story Terrace writer, Elise interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

Irene, The Wedding Crasher

“Come on, hurry!” I barked at my mom kneeling behind me with a harrowed expression on her face.

“I’m trying,” she snapped, her frantic finger-work impeding her from buttoning the bustle of my gown.

Knock, knock on the hotel suite door. “Are you almost ready?”
It was the voice of Daniel, the Hyatt Regency’s “wedding butler.”
“Not yet,” I squealed. “Come on, Mom!” This is not how I imagined I’d be getting ready on my wedding day.

Instincts told me there would be something “iffy” weather-wise about Aug. 27, 2011 – the date my fiancé, Daniel, and I had selected for our nuptials. But never did I expect a Category 1 hurricane.

Oh, Irene.

With warnings of severe flooding at our waterfront venue and a mayoral order to shut down New York City-area public transportation, we had no choice but to cancel our 120-guest reception. But, because my soon-to-be in-laws traveled from Buenos Aires with no plans to visit the U.S. again anytime soon, we decided, come hell or high water — literally, a possibility that day— that the wedding must go on.

So in lieu of a big reception, we had a luncheon ceremony with 20 of our nearest and dearest, who braved the elements to be there.
Because everything except my hair/makeup appointment had to be pushed up, we were running super-late. Hence, that tense moment.

“Ok, done,” my mom said exasperated. Mission Bustle complete.
I opened the door and Daniel, the butler, whisked me away to another suite where Daniel, love of my life, was expecting me.

Too eager to wait, he peeked out the door to catch a glimpse of me in my wedding gown as I walked down the hall. Like a mischievous kid who knows he’s been caught, he quickly ducked back inside. When he saw me, tears flooded his eyes. Hugging me tightly, he wept for a brief moment, the mix of joy and disappointment impossible to repress — a sweet image I keep locked inside my heart. We shared a private moment before we went off and had a pretty spectacular wedding.

The Hyatt’s staff did an unbelievable job making our intimate luncheon feel like a real reception, from printing cards with our revised menu to arranging for a miniature version of our cake.

Guests filled in as photographers; Daniel’s siblings video-recorded the speeches and ceremony. Songs I had downloaded as prelude music for the ceremony became the soundtrack, and we had our “first dance as husband and wife” before it was official.

While the party vibe, grand bridal entrance and more than 100 guests were missing, one thing we had lots of that day was love. From the many comforting embraces to the sweet sentiments made during speeches, emotions were overflowing.

It turned out to be a beautiful ceremony — the best, a few guests said, they’d ever been to. I loved it for its intimacy. Jokes were cracked and vows clearly heard.

While it’s been somewhat difficult to come to terms with the fact I did not have the wedding I imagined and planned for, the experience has given me an even greater appreciation of my new husband and brought us closer. Together, we survived her test. Now I know, as a couple, we have the strength to weather life’s hurricanes.

Cake 300 Res

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