04/03/2012 12:21 pm ET Updated Jun 02, 2012

When The Bride's Away...

What's your game plan for taking care of your house, pets and other obligations during your wedding and honeymoon week? Have you even thought about it yet? If you're going away for an extended period, you may not want to leave your house empty. Especially if you're running a wedding announcement in the newspaper or a lot of your neighbors know what you're up to. This is one of those times when weddings are like funerals. Don't leave your house empty if you can help it. And don't wait till the last minute to find somebody to stay there. It's a bad idea. I know. I waited.

My husband and I adopted a puppy I found in Baltimore shortly after we got engaged. Houdini was still a puppy when we got married, and figuring out what to do with a baby ('cause that's pretty much what he was) while we were gone for three consecutive weeks was a true problem considering that everyone we loved and trusted was going to be gone with us for at least one of those weeks. I lucked out when an old family friend mentioned that her niece was going to be starting law school at Catholic University, just around the corner from my house, and hadn't yet found an apartment. The timing worked out well, and we struck a deal.

To be honest, I didn't really worry. We lived on a residential street and had elderly neighbors. My husband was the district commander for his law-enforcement department, and our house was located just a few blocks away from the substation. We had cops stopping by the house all the time and we knew they'd keep an eye out. Heck, they once put up Falcon One, the DC Police helicopter, to check the skylight in my bathroom after a glass break sensor went off on our security system while we were out town. Police don't fool around with security at a house with a gun safe containing automatic weapons.

So we packed (who am I kidding, I packed for six months ahead of the wedding and kept all the clothes sorted out on different portable racks in my sitting room), said goodbye to Houdini, and wished the house sitter luck. We even gave her a cash advance to be helpful. Her parents have known me literally since I was born, so I felt really secure about our decision. You know when you don't even worry enough to remember to call and check and see how the puppy is doing on a daily basis, I felt like I could really relax and enjoy my wedding week on Vieques Island as much as any bride with 50 guests and no wedding planner can. It was perfect.

Till the phone rang at 4 o'clock in the morning on my wedding night. We hadn't been in bed that long. In fact, I think I was just dozing off when it rang. And I distinctly remember Bill saying the words "somebody better be dead." I had left the phone on because it charged better that way, and I wasn't expecting any calls on my wedding night. It was a DC cop (who was invited to our reception back home a week later, by the way) calling to ask if we were aware there was a party with several hundred Catholic University students going on at our house. Oh. Hell. No.

From the sound of things, the party was rockin'! Apparently somebody had leaned up against the panel of the security system and accidentally hit the panic button. When the security company called, the music was so loud that nobody heard the phone. So the police came to check it out. Let's be clear. Every available police cruiser in DC's 5th District responded with lights and sirens because there was a flag on our house because of the guns (which by the way, were actually secured inside the safe at the police department while we were out of town, but nobody knew that). Imagine their surprise when they arrived at our house and couldn't find any parking.

Apparently, the house sitter and her friends were quite industrious in creating a really great party venue. They'd cut all our speaker wires to rerun the stereo speakers out to the back deck next to the eight-person hot tub, where they'd constructed a tiki bar of sorts. And the neighbors weren't sure what to do because they knew it was our wedding night and didn't want to call us. I was just blown away that it could even happen like that. Of all the times, of all the trips, of all the nights. .. Did a law student really think she would be able to have a 100+ person party and nobody would notice? The police station was about 10 blocks away. This wasn't some college freshmen. She was a 24-year-old law student, and she knew our families had history. God, I hope she's not really a lawyer now.

The cops shut down the party, cleared out the guests, and scared the bejeezus out of the house sitter. My friends who were flying back to DC the day after my wedding descended on the house without warning (they had keys) and got there before she got home from work. I can't even describe the condition the house was in -- it's a good thing I was still in the Caribbean. They were waiting for her when she got home, and they relieved her of her duties. The crazy thing is that her mother had the nerve to call and tell me that my friends had scared her daughter and I should have told her daughter that my friends had keys. Say what?

The whole point of my lurid tale is that making arrangements for being out of pocket during your wedding is something you should tackle as soon as you choose your wedding date. If you're smarter than me, you won't feel the need to adopt a new puppy pre-wedding either. If you're going to need a house sitter, try him or her out for a couple of short weekends when you're not far away before you hand off your house keys for an extended period. Doing so can help you relax while you're gone and give you a relative amount of certainty that your house sitter is not hosting a kegger on your back deck while you're saying your "I dos" someplace else.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques!


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