RALEIGH — Most brides walk down the aisle to the strains of Wagner's "Bridal Chorus." Not Monica Ludlum. Saturday afternoon at the RBC Center, Ludlum's father walked her onto the ice as the Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" played.
That's the theme song for the Carolina Hurricanes. You might say that Ludlum and her groom, Alain Taylor, are big fans. They wed before the Hurricanes' game against Tampa Bay on Saturday (three years to the day after they met on SinglesNet.com) because they wanted to say "I do" on the logo for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game.
Ludlum and Taylor are not the first to get married on the Canes' ice. Three other couples have married during a game's intermission over the years, the most recent on New Year's Eve 2006. But,Ludlum and Taylor point out, their wedding will be the only one to happen on the 2011 All-Star logo.
Wedding attire consisted of Hurricanes jerseys - black for him, white for her. Black pants hid the Hurricanes logo that Ludlum has tattooed on her ankle. Most of the wedding guests gathered in section 119 wore jerseys, too. But none of the wedding party attempted skates.
"We, uh, don't want the bride to be hospitalized for the honeymoon,"Ludlum said while discussing the wedding a few days before the ceremony. "I've only been on the ice once, and we didn't want to hurt the wedding party, either."
No 'fair-weather fans'
Ludlum, 38, works as an office manager for two businesses in Cary. She used to work in the RBC Center's catering department, where she caught the hockey bug to the point that she takes it very personally when the Hurricanes lose.
"When they lost against Pittsburgh in the playoffs, I think I took it harder than the guys did," she said. "We're not fair-weather fans that leave early. We stay until the very end, and the players are off the ice."
Taylor, 39, is a cook at Backyard Bistro near the RBC Center, and he's just as avid a fan as his bride. They're not honeymooning until after the season because they don't want to miss any games. Between partial season tickets and Craigslist, he and Ludlum make it to almost every game - not to mention pretty much every autograph-and-picture public appearance the players make around the Triangle.
The den in their Cary home is full of Hurricanes souvenirs and posters, including a red-and-black Hurricanes Christmas tree that stays up year round. So when it came time to pick a spot for their wedding, the RBC Center seemed a natural.
"We approached the Hurricanes eight weeks ago expecting them to say 'Have you lost your mind?' But they picked it up and ran with it," Ludlum said.
The players all autographed a miniature goalie helmet that served as a wedding cake topper. "Ron the Ref" Biscotti, who acts as the Canes' in-game host, performed the ceremony, going so far as to get ordained ahead of time.
"Yeah, now I can handle your wedding, baptism or confession," Biscotti quipped before suiting up in his sequined referee shirt to oversee vows.
Team mascot Stormy served as ring-bearer, carrying the black-diamond and red-ruby wedding bands on a pillow crocheted with the Hurricanes logo on one side, "BRIDE 1" on the other. The couple exchanged vows in which both promised "to love and support the Canes at all times and to never go to a Canes event without you, as long as we both shall live."
As they kissed, the goal horn sounded, lights flashed and Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll Part 2" struck up. But it was back to "Rock You Like a Hurricane" as the wedding party posed for pictures at center-ice before retiring to the Champions Club upstairs for the reception - and the game, of course.
"It's gonna be a good game," Ludlum predicted. "They're gonna win for us."
And they did.