The bride's black platform combat boots peeked out from underneath her blood red dress. A thin layer of white powder covered her face, and dark circles were painted under her eyes. The women helping her get ready sucked in their breaths sharply at the sight. "You're the prettiest undead bride ever," her sister-in-law, dressed as a zombie, whispered. In the next room, the groom put the finishing touches on his Beetlejuice outfit — black and white striped suit, disheveled white wig. Unlike most weddings, bride and groom had no inhibitions getting ready for their big day.
But as you can probably tell, this was no ordinary nuptials.
"Let me put my fangs in," the bride said.
'We love Halloween'
Bride Lisa Morgan, 35, and groom Brad Nicola, 32, started dating three years ago. The couple met at Busch Gardens' annual Howl-O-Scream spook fest, where they both worked as zombies.
"We're very normal," Morgan said. "But we've got this strange side to us where we love Halloween."
She and Nicola tied the knot officially last month at the courthouse. But they wanted to do something special with friends to celebrate their union.
Both are divorced and their first weddings were the traditional deal: white dresses, white cakes, maids of honor and best men.
"Boring," said Nicola, a sales representative for Frito-Lay.
Monday evening at their home in Trinity, the couple shared their bags of flesh, blood and scab-colored makeup with a dozen close friends. As Beetlejuice played on the television, the friends outfitted themselves with fake scars, loose skin and bullet holes.
Morgan's daughters, Emily, 9, and Lindsay, 12, drew fake scratches across their faces.
"We're dead bridesmaids," Lindsay explained.
Cheers for hearses
At 7 p.m., about 150 costumed and plainclothes guests waited outside New Port Richey's Monster Mini Golf for the wedding party.
Morgan, a kindergarten teacher at Sunray Elementary, had invited most of her colleagues and even some of her students.
The crowd cheered when the couple's car, flanked by a motorcycle and three hearses, pulled up in front of the indoor, glow-in-the-dark mini golf course.
Dolvin Todd, 27, on his way to the pool hall next door, stared at the skeletons, pirates and monsters dancing in the parking lot.
"I've heard of redneck weddings," he said, "but never zombie weddings."
Not ones for the usual father-daughter dances or best-man toasts, Morgan and Nicola had a wedding featuring hula-hoop and brain-eating contests, and unlimited miniature golf.
Nicola's sister, Jennifer Miles, watched as the couple posed for their wedding pictures in front of the giant clown head marking the course's 18th hole.
"There's one thing I can say about my brother and that wonderful bride of his," Miles, 26, said. "They're perfect for each other."
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7312.