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Record-breaking blizzard forces Manhattan couple to delay wedding

NEW YORK -- Mother Nature was an unexpected guest for a Manhattan couple's wedding and her gift was a doozy: a record-breaking blizzard that made their wedding a memorable one -- even if it was a day late.

Alison Haimes was hours away from tying the knot with Walter Cook when she got a call from the restaurant that was supposed to host her nuptials on Saturday night. The massive snowstorm was shutting it down.

"There was kind of this nauseous moment," Haimes said.

The restaurant, Riverpark on Manhattan's east side, offered the couple a 10:30 a.m. spot on Sunday -- but they would have to keep the dinner menu that was already being prepared.

They took it.

Haimes, 60, spent hours on the phone with vendors to get everything rescheduled, like the cars she had arranged to drive her guests from the hotel to the venue.

"Everybody was fantastic," she said. One of the musicians even canceled a class he normally teaches on Sunday mornings in order to be there.

Some of the guests at the 70-person wedding threw an impromptu rehearsal dinner party Saturday night at their hotel near Grand Central Terminal, going out into the snowy cold to get pizzas and alcohol.

Haimes, a doctor, and Cook, a 61-year-old banker, got hitched the next morning in the formal clothing they had intended to wear the night before. And the hold-over menu was more evening than early bird special: halibut, sirloin, plenty of wine and a lemon wedding cake.

Haimes said her wedding was unforgettable, even if their wedding bands are now engraved with the wrong date.

"I thought it was going to be candlelight, but it's beautiful sunshine shining up the East River," she said.

Millions of Americans are digging out of the snow Sunday after a mammoth blizzard sacked the East Coast, whose wide-ranging effects included nearly two dozens deaths and mass airline cancellations.

While the timing wasn't great for this couple, the timing could not have been better for East Coast states: The heaviest snow began falling Friday evening, and tapered off just before midnight Saturday. Millions heeded calls to stay home, enabling road crews to clear snow and ice.

The usually bustling New York City looked more like a ghost town. With Broadway shows dark, thin crowds shuffled through a different kind of Great White Way, the nickname for a section of the theater district. And Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday's scheduled show at Madison Square Garden.

Officials say the 26.8 inches of snow that fell in New York City's Central Park is the second-most recorded since 1869. The 26.6 inches of snow that fell in Central Park on Saturday is, however, a one-day record for New York City.