All the Buzz About Outdoor Weddings

The One With The Yellow Jackets

I facilitated a fall wedding in a beautiful Chicago park. There were roughly 75 guests and although it was misting/raining, everyone seemed to not mind. When you get to work with really great, genuinely kind couples, guests don’t seem to mind when it’s 50 degrees out and raining.

The reception was going to be in this sweet little pavilion. All the guests were asked to bring a dish to share for a potluck dinner following the ceremony. As the guests were arriving, they had to drop their dishes off at the pavilion then continue to the ceremony sight about 200 yards away that overlooked a beautiful landscape of trees and a waterfall. I had taken all my umbrellas and they were definitely getting used- #PreparedForAlmostEverything #WeddingPlannerForTheWin
As the guests would enter the pavilion, I was sorting hot food and cold foods, desserts and sides. Since we were in a park, there were environmental conditions naturally occuring… like insects being attracted to delicious potluck dinner food. In my attempt to try not to bother the insects, but continue to get things ready for when the 15 minutes ceremony was over, my confidence got the best of me… or should I say the swarming yellow jackets got the best of me. Yup- I got stung. Right between my thumb and index finger too. Naturally, I said a naughty words. They flowed like a river… right in front of the Priest. #FacePalm He kept asking me if I was ok and if I was allergic to yellow jacket stings. Side note- because I have severe allergies, I’ve been tested to see everything airborne I’m allergic to. However, although yellow jackets fly in the air, they are not considered airborne… so I had absolutely no idea if my throat was about to close up and I was going to die at this wedding. Verbally I was telling the Priest I was alright… but my mind was still flowing like a river with the wonder of how my body was going to react.

I continued to work… and watch my hand swell. It was time for the ceremony. As I walked the quarter mile to the ceremony site, carrying the bride’s veil, I just kept wondering how long it would be until I’d break out with hives, spike an uncontrollable fever, swell up to the size of the Violet of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and be rushed to the emergency room- and I was really hoping one of these guests, who would be considered a complete stranger to me, would be kind enough to take me to the emergency room for an epi pen. Clearly I was thinking of the worst case scenario… maybe a tick dramatic… but I got the wedding and reception done without meeting any Chicago doctors :) Yay! Thank you, Lord!

Not only did I get the job done, but then I became a bee whisperer. I was in the College of Agriculture at Purdue and had taken an entomology class. The pavilion had a wood fireplace that was burning pretty well. As the guests arrived and the the yellow jackets held their ground over the food, I decided to take a burning/smoking log from the fireplace to smoke the bees out of the area. Ever have one of those moments where you even surprise yourself with your resourcefulness?… this was one of those times for me. I had actually paid attention during one of my entomology labs!
I might have looked slightly crazy walking the food line with a smoking stick to prevent the bees from wanting anything to do with our area, but at least the 75 guests were safe. I eventually told the bride and groom that I had been stung and I wasn’t trying to add a rustic mesquite taste to their food, but I was trying to keep the party going.

I drove away from that wedding feeling slightly like a hero because no one else was stung. I also had a club for a hand and couldn’t wait to get to a drug store to ice it and have the pharmacists apply a sting kit to my giant hand. It took about 10 days and a round of antibiotics until my hand started feeling and looking normal again. This was indeed a wedding I made no money on due to medical expenses, but I did learn a lot. Now I come prepared with a sting kit and bug spray to all my outdoor weddings. :) Actually, I have an entire med kit in my car that a nurse practitioner helped me build. Thanks to this kit and my obsession with Grey’s Anatomy, I’m pretty sure I could handle any medical emergency at any all points in time for all occasions.