Halloween Wedding Nixed by New Pastor of Sleepy Hollow’s Old Dutch Church

October 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm 4 comments


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Seriously… what would you do if a wedding you’d been planning for over 13 months was all of a sudden denied one week before the intended “I do’s”?  I’ll tell you what I would do.  I would – for sure – spontaneously combust.  Because my brain would not be able to process the news nor know who call first, my body would more than likely ignite and herethereto explode from disappointment.  Fortunately for Jim Nieves and Lisa Panensky, they did not combust… Unfortunately, however, they were given this sad, sad news.

While planning their Halloween themed wedding, this Nieves and Panensky were dealt a little more trick and little less treat.  Merely a week away from their ceremony – set to take place in the Old Dutch Church made famous by Washington Irving’s spook filled story, ‘The Legend of Sleep Hollow” – they were “poo poo’ed” by the church.

According to the New York Daily News, Nieves and Panensky had the Old Dutch Church reserved for over a year for their Halloween themed wedding, until the new Rev. Jeff Gargano stepped in and nipped their plans in the bud.  After receiving an email from the couple requesting the organist play the theme from “The Addams Family,” Gargano  responded with disdain and suggested that up until that point – one week prior to nuptial bliss – he had no reason to believe it was nothing more than a “run of the mill” ceremony.

Come on now, Reverend… the wedding date was intentionally set on October 31st – All Hollow’s Eve – in a Church made famous by a boo-riffic story.  I mean hello????  If that wasn’t enough, surely the black wedding dress and pirate ruffled tux should have been dead giveaways for the couple’s intent.  While Rev. Gargano did offer to marry the couple in the cemetery – refusing to have a “Halloween costume party” within the confines of the church – the couple decided they’d more than likely move the service to their home.  Boo, almost seems like a letdown compared to the original… my heart goes out to them.

 So, let this be a warning to all you brides-to-be out there planning a non-traditional wedding… be sure to check, double check, cross wires and split hairs with all intended parties to ensure that this won’t happen to you.  Lord knows I love a good wedding, and I would hate to see any more bridal plans go up in smoke!  Cheers to many years of wedded bliss and HAPP-HAPP-HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Entry filed under: The Inside Track, Wedding Planning 101. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. stop snoring  |  July 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Thanks for posting, I’m definitely going to check back.

  • 2. lemondrop  |  November 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I agree with the pastor… I too would have denied the couple from playing the theme from the Addam’s Family in a place of worship. Even tho the the church is famous for being part of a very well-known story, at the end of the day it’s still a church and should have been respected as such by the bride and groom. Shame on you Jim and Lisa for your attempt to disrespect God in such a way.

    That said, brides usually make the wedding day all about them… not even considering the rules and regulations of churches when planning their weddings. This is especially true if they are not avid church goers, but want to get married in a church. They don’t think about the church as a holy place… they just think about having a beautiful church to be married in. — I got married in a Lutheran church (even tho I’m non-denominational, and my groom was Catholic) there were many, many, MANY rules I had to follow based on the philosophy of the church AND not only that, but the church’s board had to approve or disapprove by majority vote on nearly EVERYTHING down to the flowers, decor, music (if secular), and my dress (no bare shoulders or revealing necklines – that went for bridesmaids too). I couldn’t even walk down the aisle to the Wedding March because the church said the songs meaning was dark. The most devastating thing… photographs couldn’t be taken during the ceremony because at that point it wasn’t about me or my groom is was about God. I was OK with all of the rules because I view the church as a holy place, but that’s not the case for everyone. All of this considered, do your homework and find out everything about the church’s rules regarding bringing anything secular into the ceremony… including rules on apparel. I had already purchased a strapless dress for me and my bridesmaids, thankfully the easy fix was to wear shoulder wraps while at the altar.

  • 3. Jeff gargano  |  October 30, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Check with the pastor about this story before you say things based on a one-sided telling. There is much that has not been said because nobody has had the common courtesy to call the church. For example, in September the couple wanted to cancel because they couldn’t afford the site fees. The pastor, me, waived his fees, and the site fees, and asked the organist to reduce her fee as well. Total reduction … 70%! Ask the church whether the Halloween-themed wedding was ever mentioned. Never. Ask to see the email exchanges. I have them if you’re at all curious. The music was sprung on the church one week before the wedding. Ask about the language used when the church concerns were raised and whether or not you would proceed as an officiant after repeated f-bombs are dropped on you. Much more to the story.

    • 4. Mary Kidwell  |  November 2, 2009 at 7:45 am

      Thank you so much for commenting, Reverend. You’re right. There are always two sides to every story, but since we’re simply running a lighthearted blog – based on fun anecdotes, whimsy and opinion – most of our posts are writtin for humor, in hopes to launch a forum for brides to discuss their personal problems and solutions. We get our facts from news sites (in this case nydailynews.com) to give a base idea that will hopefully generate the most discussion. So, while I sincerely appreciate your comment and respect your angle, please know that it was never our intent to produce a factual new story, rather a fun article that would hopefully get brides talking about this particular “what if.” I am truly sorry for any extra worry or stress that this may have caused you. Thanks again for stopping by and have a wonderful day!


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