The Engineering Requirements of My Wedding

I meant to blog on this a month or so ago , but got a bit distracted. My wedding last year was preceded by lots of distractions, including a work project that ran long. Actually it ran right up to the day before my wedding and was completed only because I opted to forgo sleeping the last few days. Unfortunately, that left some things wedding-related unattended. If you have the opportunity to sustain the week before your wedding with 10 hours of erratic, non-contiguous sleep, I'd recommend against it. But, hey, that's just my opinion.

So, somehow I volunteered myself, and hence my brother, into making a stage for the wedding as well as a backdrop and the seating specs. The seating specs were done with Google Sketchup. And, amazingly, the good folks at our venue managed to follow the directions perfectly (I didn't bust out a rope and check the radius throughout the rows, but it seemed close enough)

The stage was more problematic. Our budget didn't include anything for a rental, so the solution had to be cheap. Along those lines, I had to be able to tote it to the venue. Originally, we were scheduled to have full run of the place the night before, but due to a miscommunication (that is me being friendly and generous to the good folks managing the venue), they rented it out to another group that night. So, my stage solution had to be cheap, portable and easy to setup in the morning.

My brother divined the solution to the problem in what I consider to be one of his many strokes of genius: cardboard boxes. With a layer of thin wood to spread the load, and enough boxes to take it, they would provide the elevation need for the ceremony (My wife and I choose a very capable and sincere lady to be our officiant, but she had to be one of the shortest ladies I have ever met). Better yet, he was able to borrow the boxes from his work, so we just had to be mindful when breaking everything down.

So the night before the wedding, we make a (Home) Depot run and secure the wood so that we could spend the making a large plywood jigsaw puzzel. The balance of the sleepless night was spend preparing small vases with cut bamboo, rocks, candles and the occasional beta fish in the hotel suite. Actually, that's another quick note. I made the Walmart run at 4:AM because the bamboo was difficult to cut with whatever we had brought, so I went to pick up a chopping knife and a cutting board. However, if you ever find yourself buying a knife and cutting board in the middle of the night, I will advise that it looks suspicious if you also decide to buy a whole bunch of Beta Fish. It's a good way to get odd looks from people.

(The brick and the small piece of wood to the right formed the step onto the stage)

The stage held, however, there was a tense moment as we heard one of the boxes give way. However, the nearest neighboring boxes took up the slack and a 2% failure rate (50 boxes total) was acceptable.

Of course, this is not the craziest engineering effort to come from my brother. he once had to flip a boat ...

The cables reaching out to the left pivot around a dumpster and can be seen to come back to the rear of another truck acting as a counter force to allow the boat to slowly fall to the ground. You can see me holding on to the wooden support structure of the boat for no particular reason.

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