October 24, 2014

Elyria
Hazy sunshine
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Bride and groom say their pastor ditched them at the beach

ELYRIA — A glass of wine nearly derailed Erin Kuhns’ dream of a beach wedding.

That’s because her minister  of choice, Gillian Kresila, refused to perform the service after learning that Kuhns had toasted the wedding with her bridesmaids in the limousine on the way to Lakeview Beach, where the wedding was to be held.

“I was just crying,” Kuhns said Wednesday as she recounted the events of her wedding day. “I thought, ‘How can this be happening? All that planning that went into it and now this?’ ”

The wedding was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. July 18 at Lakeview Beach. The weatherman predicted a chance of rain, but the Elyria couple, both 23, promised themselves they weren’t going to let a few droplets ruin their big day.

Bret and Erin Kuhns, both 23 and from Elyria, pose on their wedding day July 18  at Lorain’s Lakeview Beach.

Bret and Erin Kuhns, both 23 and from Elyria, pose on their wedding day July 18 at Lorain’s Lakeview Beach.

Her fiance, Bret, and his groomsmen arrived early to take pictures with the photographer and to prepare. Kuhns and her bridesmaids pulled up in a limo a bit before the ceremony was to begin, and that’s when she said Kresila approached the limo, opened the door and asked for the marriage license.

Kuhns said Kresila saw one of her bridesmaids with an alcoholic beverage and asked Kuhns if she had been drinking. Kuhns told her yes, she had a glass of wine to toast the wedding, and Kresila told her she was told not to drink before the wedding and would not perform the ceremony because of it.

Kuhns said that while Kresila never told them not to drink, the rehearsal coordinator who works with Kresila mentioned at the rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding not to drink alcohol and also to drink plenty of water and eat, so no one would get got sick. They didn’t meet the reverend until the day of the wedding.

“The Friday evening before the wedding, after the rehearsal was over, the rehearsal coordinator gave a pep talk to the entire bridal party,” Kuhns said. “During the talk, she urged us all to drink plenty of water, make sure everyone had plenty to eat, and not to have alcohol before the wedding, all so that things go smoothly and no one faints during the ceremony. Besides this pep talk, we were given no further instructions, warnings and/or ultimatums. Nothing was indicated to us that alcohol was strictly prohibited, nor that the ceremony would not be performed if anyone had alcohol before the wedding.”

Kresila, who works for Elyria Wedding Minister, which provides non-denominational ministers for weddings and other events, refused to comment for this story, but she told a Fox 8 news reporter that it is illegal to marry people who are under the influence in Ohio, and that she could lose her license to officiate. She told the reporter she “is not a doctor and cannot tell how one drink affects one person or another person,” which is why she has a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol.

Ohio law only refers to not providing a marriage license to someone under the influence.

“By this time, I was very upset,” Kuhns said. “We had been planning for more than a year for this day. For her to ruin all our hard work over one four-ounce glass of wine was more than upsetting.”

After the minister left, family and friends scrambled to find another officiant.

Bret Kuhns’ brother, Scot Kuhns, managed to reach a pastor who married him and his wife several years earlier and within a half hour Stacy Terrell had arrived at the beach to perform the ceremony.

“We are happily married and will always have a story to tell about our wedding day to our kids and grandkids,” Erin Kuhns said.

Kresila has not returned the couple’s $50 deposit, but the Kuhns’ did not pay her the rest of the $100 she was supposed to be owed on their wedding day. Erin Kuhns said the couple does not plan to file a lawsuit or report Kresila to the Better Business Bureau.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7129 or awright@chroniclet.com.