A Bride, Some Beer and 'Great Balls of Fire'

By Stephanie Booth
Sunday, September 3, 2006

It's an hour-and-a-half before her wedding rehearsal, and Sarah Elkins has no idea where her fiance, Keith Ince, is. He's not at the dry cleaners, picking up the suits he's rented for himself and his two groomsmen. (She'd quickly scanned that tiny parking lot on her way to satisfy a craving for a McDonald's Filet-o-Fish.) And he's not out on the front porch, filling coolers with beer and soda for the party after the rehearsal.

These are, really, the only two responsibilities Sarah, 29, has assigned Keith, 31, over the past year of wedding planning. Now, he's nowhere to be found.

"You could call him," suggests Elissa Pugh-Arguello, 28, one of Sarah's bridesmaids. Elissa teaches at a Montessori school in Nashville and has driven eight hours to be here.

Sarah, a short, curvy blonde with a deep tan, shakes her head. "I can't. He'll get fussy."

After four years of dating Keith, including two of living together, she knows him extremely well.

Her father, Dave, decides to dial Keith's cell anyway. A former employee relations manager, he knows how to maneuver through conversational minefields.

"Hey, Keith. Where are you?"

In a deliberately calm voice, Dave suggests that Keith return to the two-bedroom bungalow the couple shares, to deal with the coolers.

When Keith tries to put him off, Dave's conciliatory tone doesn't change. "Maybe do it sooner," he urges. "Otherwise, there'll be bear traps and [stuff] here waiting for you."

Minutes later, Keith walks into the cheery white kitchen. Six feet tall and broad-shouldered, he has close-cut brown hair and, for now, a sullen expression. He's followed by his brother, Carey, 28, and Adam Leatherwood, 31, both groomsmen who've flown in from Texas. Each is holding a garment bag.

"Oh, good!" Sarah says, instead of hello. "You want to try on your suit to make sure it fits?"

"Not right now," Keith mutters. "I have other stuff I want to do."

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company