Best Laid Wedding Plans Lead To

BANK ONE BALLPARK

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Patti Christensen and Karen McClanahan have a whole lot in common.

1. They're both exceedingly lovely and charming women.

2. They both work in the front office of the Roundup.

3. They're both preparing a wedding for one of their offspring.

4. They are both preparing the very same wedding.

At 6 p.m. Sept. 25, Patti's 20-year-old daughter Heather is marrying Karen's 21-year-old son, Craig.

Rest assured, this will not be your typical nuptial exchange, since the future Mr. and Mrs. Craig McClanahan will be joining 40 other couples in a mass marriage ceremony to be held on the field of Phoenix's Bank One Ballpark.

There, the happy couple will trade "I do's" right on home plate. Their witness will be the Arizona Diamondbacks' mascot, Baxter. One of the team's players will sign their marriage license. And there will be 32 friends and family members in the stands, cheering them on.

Package price: $495.00, including cake and wedding photos.

Now if this sounds at all off the wall, it helps to know that Craig and Heather's relationship has always had a sports theme. For example, they met while wrestling at Payson High School.

Yes, there are many boys and girls who like to wrestle at Payson High School. But Craig and Heather were actually on the wrestling TEAM. Big difference.

Still, their mothers would have preferred a more traditional kind of marriage such as those in which the parents don't need a pair of binoculars to see the bride and groom.

"I know it's their marriage," Karen admitted, a bit ruefully. "It's their marriage, but it would have been nice to see them have a regular church wedding and reception. This way, we're having two different receptions and two different showers one of each in both Phoenix and Payson. So we've got double expenses, really."

"I think this is kind of neat," Patti said, "but yeah, I would have liked a church wedding, too. Neither Karen or I have ever married off one of our children before. Plus, I would have liked to have a little more time, because I'm going nuts."

Patti takes a deep breath before launching into a partial list of her recent and current wedding-related activities.

"I'm planning a shower and reception here in Payson up here ... a reception up here ... we went down to the Valley and did the whole wedding-dress thing in one day ... we did all the registering at Target and Wal-Mart and all those places ... we got the cake top and the champagne and the glasses and the knife to cut the cake ... we haven't done the flowers yet ...The wedding book was already purchased by an aunt, so we didn't have to do that ... There's just a lot to do that you don't realize ...," Patti said, finally taking a breath.

Karen isn't getting many naps these days, either.

"I had to find a place to hold the shower in Phoenix," she said, "and then I had to start planning the reception down there and coordinating dates with Patti so that we made sure we didn't overlap ... and then we had to rent tables, chairs, linens ... and then I had to delegate a lot of jobs to my eight sisters; they're going to do the flowers, the table settings, the food, the bartender, the lights ... and we still have to get Craig a tuxedo."

Before we continue, there is one observation that begs to be made about Patti and Karen.

A couple of decades ago, geezers will recall, there was a television sitcom called "The Mothers-in-Law," in which the title females were forever at each others' throats over every single detail of their children's marriage.

Obviously, Patti and Karen never saw that show and do not realize that it is a long-held American tradition for mothers-in-law to hate each other. The fact is, they get along swimmingly. Although their children's wedding has been in the planning stages for several weeks now, they have not engaged in one not one single fistfight.

Or argument.

Or cross word.

This is a mutual admiration society.

"We love Karen's family," Patti said with apparent sincerity. "We have a lot of fun together. In fact, her husband even laid our tile. He did an awesome job."

"I think they're great," Karen said. "We get along well. Both of us could do a lot worse!"

The two women feel the same way about their future children-in-law.

"I love Heather," Karen said. "I think Craig is so lucky that he has her, because she'll be with him until he dies. I have no doubt about that."

"I really love Craig a lot," Patti said. "Financially, I worry about him. But I know that he loves her and he has to, to put up with some of her moods. And I think he's going to be an awesome father."

Now just wait a minute. You've both said how this wedding-planning business is driving you crazy. Wouldn't it have been easier to either disown or adopt out your children before all this started happening?

"No," Patti said without hesitation. "There's going to be joy in this."

"Maybe our husbands will feel like that when they start paying the bills, but not us," Karen added. "This is exactly what mothers wait for. Mothers live for this. And after the marriage, comes the grandkids and that's what we're really waiting for!"

"I think the only problem we'll ever have is, 'Who gets the grandchildren this weekend?'," Patti said. "When Craig and Heather come up from the Valley, we're going to have to make them stay two nights so Karen can have them one night and I can have them the other."

We'll cover that story when it happens. Maybe that's when the fists will start flying.

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