Talk about wedding crashers.
Joseph DeMichele and his longtime fiancée Feliece Terwilliger, both 36, were in their Jeep on their way to their own wedding early Saturday afternoon on Long Island when cruel but colorful fate intervened.
Another car made a U-turn in front of their Jeep and the two vehicles crashed, though no one was seriously injured, including the couple’s two small children, 5 and 10, who were in the back seat.
Suffolk County Police records indicate the accident occurred at 1:15 p.m.
The wedding was scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
“We were on our way to our wedding,” Terwilliger told ABC News. “We were so excited. We were taking pictures. Well, I was taking pictures, he was driving and we were all just very excited to be finally getting married after being engaged for six years and together for seven.”
Her newly-minted husband chimed in.
“It really was one of those things that you were anticipating for so long that you were just wanting so badly for the chance to get married,” he said. “All I wanted to do was marry my best friend.”
The accident scene was chaotic, the couple said. Their two children were shaken up and hysterical. A nearby ambulance was on scene immediately, followed by cops and firefighters. One set of officers worked with the couple while another interviewed the other driver. Everyone involved was determined to be okay.
Once all of this was established, Suffolk County Police Sergeant Thomas Kennedy, the first police official on scene, noticed the couple were especially well-dressed for a Saturday afternoon and commented on it.
“He’s like ‘you’re dressed nice. Where are you going?’”
“I told him, ‘we’re trying to get married,’” DeMichele said.
That’s when Kennedy sprang into action, according to the bride and groom.
“Suddenly, he turns around and he’s like, ‘you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to get you to your wedding. What time is it at?’” Terwilliger explained.
“1:30,” DeMichele replied anxiously, “and we’re going to miss it.”
Kennedy started delegating.
“He didn’t hesitate,” DeMichele said. “He was like ‘ok, you go do the paperwork with her, and you take the info from him, and we’re going to get them to their wedding.’"
Kennedy called in for another squad car.
That’s when the real excitement began.
The bride and groom and their kids were piled into the back of a patrol car and off they went.
“It was the funniest thing," Terwilliger said. "We’re in the car and the sirens are going and we’re flying to the place we have to get to, and going around cars. And it was really dramatic and we’re sliding back and forth in the back seat. I really felt like I was in a movie.”
Terwilliger said she and DeMichele couldn’t have been more grateful.
“They gave us the most royal treatment I ever expected."
But there was more.
Like many wedding mornings, this one proved to be a bit of a challenge for the bride-to-be.
The couple had decided to hold a private ceremony -– just the bride, the groom, their two kids, and two witnesses -– at the Lake Grove Town Hall. They were later planning to surprise their family in Brooklyn with the news, and hold a second, more lavish ceremony, down the road.
“My morning didn’t start out well,” she recalled. “I’m a very calm person, but we got a call saying [my] witness wasn’t able to make it. And then when me and my daughter got our hair done the [hairdresser] burnt her face with a curling iron."
The burn “is the size of a quarter,” Terwilliger noted, ruefully.
Still, it was minutes before 1:30 p.m. and they were racing hell-for-leather towards town hall at top speeds.
Suffolk County Police Officer Cody Matthews proved to be a particularly skilled tactical driver, so there was still hope.
Matthews eased the patrol car to a stop in front of town hall, and dispatched the betrothed.
When they reached the mayor, who was to marry them, he told them he couldn’t marry them without two witnesses and they only had one.
DeMichele -- now battled-tested in wedding day improvisation -- reacted in real time. He turned and dashed back outside and grabbed Matthews, who was dutifully standing by to escort the newly-married pair back home.
Matthews charged back into town hall behind DeMichele.
“He turned out to be my best man and my witness,” DeMichele said.
Yet for all their planning, and all the mishaps they overcame, there was one detail the happy couple couldn’t control.
“Our family didn’t know that we were getting married,” Terwilliger explained. “We had shirts made up, and it was gonna be our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs., so we were going to go surprise our family in Brooklyn."
“But then they all saw it on the news," she said, slightly deflated at the thought.
"So it was like, ‘Surprise!'"