Jeff and Natalie Daniels were supposed to be married at 10 a.m. on August 16, 2008, in an outdoor ceremony at Lake Eola in Orlando, Florida. The bride was 45 minutes late but, unfortunately, Tropical Storm Fay arrived right on time with wind-swept rain that quickly soaked guests, drove the bride into her car, and sent the preacher scurrying into a nearby Panera Bread.2012-01-01
“We didn’t have a backup plan,” recalls Jeff. “I was so soaked, the dye from my tuxedo went right through my shirt. But then the reverend called and said it’s nice and dry in Panera, and the manager was willing to let us get married in there. I thought this is going to be one of the strangest weddings ever….”
The Reverend Glynn Ferguson and the Panera staff took charge, handing out towels and moving tables. A cloth was draped over a trashcan, and the couple’s Unity Candle was set on top. Meanwhile, the groom and his party were sequestered in the men’s room while guests formed a canopy of umbrellas so the bride could get from her car to the bakery-cafe.
“Once everyone was in position, I gave the staff the nod, they turned up the classical music, the bride and her father walked down the aisle, and I married them,” says Reverend Ferguson. “Everyone clapped, customers included. It was one of the most unusual weddings I’ve ever done, but it was warm, inviting, classy, and it sure smelled wonderful.”
“Natalie and I plan on going back to that Panera for our anniversary and giving the staff a photo of us taken in front of the store that day,” says Jeff. “Whenever we tell people this story, they can’t believe it. But it was very special, and we’ll never forget it.”