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A SERIES OF MISHAPS ON THE WAY TO THE WEDDING

Before Friday's wedding drew close and the mishaps starting piling up, Elizabeth Reigle, 25, had spent a year methodically planning the wedding she'd imagined since she was a girl.

Throughout it all, her fiance would say: "Whatever you want honey. Whatever you want."

Nicholas Huson, 28, even switched parishes so they could get married at Sacred Heart Church in Depew, where she used to run up the steps pretending to be a bride.

So as Reigle found a violinist for the reception and picked bridesmaids' dresses, she was glad to arrange the one event that would be especially for her fiance: In November, the Buffalo Bills gave her tentative approval to have the wedding photos taken on the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium the day of the wedding -- Friday.

Since being on the field was Huson's dream, Reigle thought it would be the perfect reward for the man who had encouraged her to finish school and make her dream of becoming an English teacher come true.

By Christmas, her wedding was planned and it all seemed to perfectly fall into place. Until February. That's when one calamity after another began.

The morning of her shower an ice storm hit. The Grand Island Bridge was closed and 10 guests from the Northtowns couldn't make it to the banquet hall in Hamburg. Her mother, usually just an hour away in Erie, Pa., spent almost three hours driving in.

But they made do.

And then after four burgundy bridesmaids' dresses arrived in March from the mail-order catalog, the company said the matron of honor's petite size wouldn't be ready until June.

So a bridesmaid friend had a dress to lend in silver. Reigle was pleased to discover the color nicely picked up on the silver embroidery in her wedding gown.

Then in April, Reigel prepared to dress for her formal bride photograph. A bridesmaid took a look at the gown and gasped. There along the center of the train was a line of what looked like red crayon.

"I was very upset," Reigle said. At first the shop ignored her request for a cleaning, so she went in and refused to leave until the red mark was removed.

As the weeks went on, Huson looked forward to the Ralph Wilson Stadium photos.

He'd reminisced about his football days during their courtship, which had lasted five years. He talked often about how as an offensive center at Depew High School his team had lost a game when they were one game away from the final round, which was always played on the stadium turf.

They both worked at Perkins.

He started out liking her smile and she thought his blue-gray eyes were beautiful. When they started talking, they found they finished each other's sentences and both listened to the Canadian rock band Rush, read science fiction and liked fishing, camping, hiking and football.

As they ate steaks on their first date in 1996 at the Scotch and Sirloin, they discovered they both wanted to do something else besides restaurant work. Huson, who'd signed up to be an iron worker apprentice, took Riegle home, kissed her and advised her to finish college in Buffalo, not Pennsylvania, where she began.

"I don't think we could do this long distance," he said.

Huson helped. He got the union job he wanted and while Reigle waited tables and studied, he cooked dinner, cleaned and paid bills.

After her graduation in 2001, she got the job she wanted at West Seneca West Middle School. Last summer, as Reigle and Huson hiked up a mountain, the view from a clearing near the peak was so lovely, he proposed.

She worked on their wedding and thought about bringing a football to toss around during the pictures so Huson could finally tell his friends he got to play at the stadium. It would be better than any gift she could buy.

Then about three weeks ago, she dialed her matron of honor in a panic after she watched the evening news about how the Buffalo Bills had decided, for the first time in several years, to pull up the stadium's turf and replace it. Pictures would be off limits.

Even more went wrong after that.

The florist couldn't find any of the pale pink cottage yarrow flowers she'd chosen to accent the roses in her bouquet. Once her ring was sized, the diamond wouldn't fit in the setting. A wasps' nest appeared in the ceiling above their Depew apartment's outdoor hallway.

As the wedding drew closer, Reigle grew resigned. She would settle for another kind of flower. The ring would be fixed. She would avoid the wasps by getting ready at a hotel near the church.

For the pictures, she arranged with the photographer to stand by the church's shrine, where she used to play at getting married with a girlfriend.

Reigle knows that what matters most is the life ahead of them, not the dress, or the ring, or the flowers or the photos.

As for the stadium, Huson no longer cares. "He just kind of shrugged and he laughed about it and said, 'I guess I'm not fated to be on the field,' " Reigle said.

She, however, has not given up on going there for pictures. Lately she's thought of an alternative. "Maybe," she said, "we'll go there when we have a christening."

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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