5 On Your Side

Two weddings, tornado don't mix

Posted May 5, 2011 4:51 p.m. EDT
Updated May 5, 2011 7:33 p.m. EDT

— Anyone who got married in downtown Raleigh on April 16 probably has a story to tell.

Think about it. It's your wedding day. You've planned for more than a year. You've paid a lot of money. And it all turns upside down.

Two couples who went through it contacted 5 on Your Side for help.

Both know their situations are nothing compared to what people who lost their homes are going through, but they're in a situation none the less.

Quinci Duncan was right in the middle of the storm, crouched in the basement of All Saints Church.

The sanctuary windows shattered. "There was glass everywhere,” Duncan said. “It was across the whole room."

Only blocks away, Abby and Nam Nguyen arrived at the Marbles Kid's Museum right after the storm blew through.

“We're praying for the power to come back on," Nam said.

With only diminishing daylight and candles for lighting, the couples made the best of it.

The Duncans even posed for a less than typical Kodak wedding moment in front of a huge uprooted tree.  

With no air conditioning, the Nguyens made unexpected use of fans intended as a cultural guest favor.

"We're just thinking it will be a cute giveaway. We turn around at our ceremony and every guest was fanning themselves,” Abby Nguyen said.

But soon after their receptions got going, both groups were told to evacuate the buildings for safety reasons.

As their caterers, DJs and guests worked to move the parties to new locations miles away, Duncan immediately called J&L Carriage to cancel a pre-paid ride to their downtown hotel set for later that night.

“I said we got evacuated from Artspace," Duncan said. “We can't do the horse and carriage. She said, 'You should have called me earlier.'"

Duncan and the wife of the owner, Leslie Massey, went back and forth in a couple of phone calls. “They didn't want to work with us,” Duncan said. “It was just 'no, no no.'"

Duncan considered trying to get back to Artspace later that night to take the ride, but it didn't make sense.

“There were no lights,” Duncan said. “There were power lines down, there were trees everywhere."

So, when she returned from her honeymoon, she called J&L again, hoping to at least get back the $40 tip she prepaid. After saying she had to “check with the owner,” Massey eventually agreed. But when Duncan’s card still wasn't credited after a week, she contacted 5 on Your Side.

The Nguyens e-mailed after they asked Marbles Museum to refund part of the $1,800 rental fee, since they never had power and had to leave halfway through the allotted time.

"They said they wouldn't do anything for us," Nguyen said.

When we called Marbles, Marketing Director Katie Burgwyn told us the Nguyens had an "opportunity to call off the wedding" and that the museum had already paid for event staff, security and porters. She said the museum "bent over backward for the couple," but she then agreed to pro-rate the hours the couple used the facility, and refund $675!

“I think it's only fair to get some kind of compensation," Nguyen said.

When we called J&L about the Duncans, Leslie Massey told us that Quincy Duncan “was as nice as can be” when she called to cancel, but that it was loud in the background and difficult to hear her. She also said her husband "risked his life' to be downtown for the Duncans, as well as at two earlier rides nearby. She said loading the horses and carriage is "a lot of work." But J & L agreed to refund $140 - half of the cost of the ride and the entire tip.

Duncan is happy with that.

“We just feel really blessed that we’re okay, our families are okay, all of our friends are okay, and we got married," Duncan said.