tampabay.com

Veils and tuxes vs. bike shorts

Happy couples and competitive bicyclists cross paths outside a chapel Saturday, frustrating many.

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY
Published March 13, 2007


PALM HARBOR - Makeup and tiara in place, sweats still on, the future Bonnie Cederman found the route to her wedding blocked Saturday.

"Go away, we're having an event," she said a staffer for the Gearlink Cup Festival told her as her car turned onto Georgia Avenue toward Rheba Sutton White Chapel.

"I'm getting married at 5:30," she told him. "You're going to let me through."

Cederman got through. But a similar scene played out several times Saturday as two brides said the weddings they'd planned for months ran smack into the day-long bicycle race through downtown Palm Harbor.

The 150 guests of Jeff and Lindsay York's 2 p.m. wedding were told they could get access to the chapel via County Road 1.

That wasn't the case, said Lindsay York, 22, of Trinity.

Her limousine was routed to Alt. U.S. Highway 19 and then sped off to pick up the groom and the groomsmen. But there was no sign of the men in the wedding party as guests started to arrive, forcing guests to seat themselves.

Luckily, the groom and his attendants arrived just in time for the ceremony.

Mirek Magdziak, Gearlink's president, said his company worked hard to make sure wedding guests got to the chapel. There were event staffers at each barricade directing wedding guests to Georgia Avenue through Alt. U.S. Highway 19, he said.

"I understand people planned this," he said. "This is a lifetime event. No one maliciously ignored them."

However, next year, he said, he'll try to keep the bike race from conflicting with weddings.

Cederman, 40, of Tampa, said she was told about the race course cutting in front of the church just a week before the wedding. She said the chapel staff assured her that her 80 wedding guests would be allowed through.

But the pastor marrying Cederman and her groom, Daryle Cederman, 37, was forced to park a block away when he wasn't allowed through.

And about 10 guests got so frustrated with the road closures they gave up and left, she said.

"You want your guests to have a good time," Bonnie Cederman said. "Some of them didn't have a good time because they never came."

She said she wants to make sure other brides don't go through the same thing.

The final disruption came as she was standing outside the chapel, waiting for her time to walk down the aisle, when a slew of bikes whizzed by. Race-watchers chanted "go, go, go."

"Shh," Cederman told them.

She walked down the aisle, the chapel doors shut and the rest of the wedding went smoothly.

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at 727 445-4181 or tel-khoury@sptimes.com.