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GENDER PROVES NO HITCH TO MEMBERS OF WEDDING PARTY

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The bride looked lovely in white satin.

Her attendant was stunning in teal and black. It set off his goatee to perfection.I've seen maids of honor with mustaches, but Ben Trokey is the only one I know with a goatee. Ben was Karen Hightshoe's maid of honor. Make that man of honor.

Some honor.

"He wasn't my first choice," said Karen, bluntly.

Karen wanted a woman to be her chief attendant. "But my best friend from high school couldn't be there, and I didn't want to choose between my sisters."

That left her next best friend, Ben.

"I was a solution," he said, cheerfully.

The fact that Ben was a man didn't bother the 22-year-old bride. She wasn't going to let sex get in the way of her wedding.

Ben took his duties seriously. At least, those he was allowed to carry out.

"Karen's mother wouldn't let me help her get dressed," he said.

"I did give the bridal shower. She gave me a magazine article so I'd know how to do it."

Did you hold Karen's bouquet at the altar?

"No, she passed it along to the bridesmaids. I was busy. I had to play around with her train."

I was sure that description wasn't out of Modern Bride.

Ben didn't carry a bouquet like Karen's other attendants.

"He had a peach boutonniere to match my flowers," she said.

He wore a tux in the bridesmaids' colors. The women had teal dresses trimmed with big black bows. Ben's black lapels set off his teal tux to perfection.

"Really, it wasn't that big a deal," Karen said.

A modern bride is not held back by stuffy traditions. She makes her own.

Karen did have some trouble convincing her mother that her maid of honor was a man.

"I told her about Ben at the engagement party. She refused to believe me. Two months later, she said, `Who's going to be your maid of honor?'

"She thought I was joking."

By that time, Karen had bigger problems.

"I couldn't find any shoes," said the bride.

The 23-year-old groom, Emil Wolfshoefer III, solved this in a way that showed he was prime husband material.

"I listened to her talk about how she couldn't find any shoes and how she really wanted blue cowboy boots, but they were too expensive," Emil said. "After three months I said, `Buy the boots and shut up.' "

Karen did. She also made sure her wedding dress was long enough to cover her boots. If Mom wouldn't believe Karen had a man of honor, she'd freak over blue cowboy boots under a traditional lace and satin gown.

The wedding got more interesting. Three weeks before the ceremony, the groom had his own crisis.

"My best man couldn't make it," Emil said. "He lives in California. At the last minute, his company denied his vacation. They said they were short-handed. If he went, he was fired.

"I needed a groomsman right away."

He got a groomswoman.

His sister Jamie Sporich was pressed, and then pinned, into service.

"The real problem was getting my sister fitted in her tux. That sucker was pinned all over."

"The preacher accepted Ben without any problem," Karen said. "But we had trouble making him understand about Jamie at the rehearsal. He thought she was standing in for a man. But by the time we finally got married, I don't think he cared."

This wedding story has a happy ending.

Karen married Emil in a beautiful evening service.

Her 80ish grandmother wasn't upset by Ben, the man of honor, or Jamie, the groomswoman.

"Grandma thought it was a blast," Karen said. "She said it wasn't a stuffy wedding."

Karen's mother was thoroughly shocked by the cowboy boots. "But she didn't see them until after the ceremony."