Planning details of 2,000 walks down the aisle Coordinator: Mary Torresse has made sure 2,000 weddings have run smoothly at the Naval Academy Chapel in the past decade.

March 15, 1998|By Kelly Cramer | Kelly Cramer,CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

Mary Torresse put together five weddings at the Naval Academy Chapel yesterday.

And 1,995 academy weddings before that.

"Weddings are me," said Torresse, whose title is Naval Academy wedding chapel coordinator. "I love my job."

She is the first person to hold the position, which was created in 1988 to meet the demand for nuptials in the academy's historic chapel.

Torresse said the amount of paperwork and coordination involved in planning about 200 weddings a year in the chapel -- and turning away many more -- created the need for her job.

Torresse, who had worked in the chaplain's office since 1979, estimates that she spends 75 percent of her workday taking care of wedding business.

She counsels nervous couples and parents. She makes sure the chaplain's faith matches the couple's. She checks that the bride and bridegroom have proper pre-wedding counseling.

Friday afternoon, she went over the details of an academy chapel wedding during a rehearsal with her 2,000th bride and bridegroom.

"No bubbles, no birdseed, no balloons, no butterflies and no doves," she told Ken Shook and Colleen McFeely. "No alcoholic beverages or spirits thereof. The only spirit in the chapel is the Holy Spirit."

Then she lectured the best man, who is responsible for keeping the wedding on time.

"If the groom is late, the best man pays for the reception," she said of an academy tradition.

This is the chapel's busy season. From now until early 1999, at least six weddings will be held every Saturday.

The pace picks up after commissioning, when 10 weddings are scheduled for each Saturday and Sunday and one is scheduled for Memorial Day. It is the only time exceptions are made to the Saturday-only rule for chapel weddings.

To say "I do" in the chapel, either the bride or the groom must be an academy graduate or an active service member stationed at the academy. Torresse's 2,000th bride, McFeely, was in the academy class of 1990.

Shook asked McFeely to marry him last June, on her 30th birthday. There is usually at least a yearlong wait for reservations, but they got a cancellation date.

"It's the luck of the Irish," McFeely said.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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