For more than a year, Karina Eddé spent just about every waking minute dreaming up her perfect wedding. Dozens of friends and relatives would fly in from around the world, meet on a giant yacht festooned with handmade decorations on the Miami River, and then sail in the moonlight to celebrate.
Fairy-tale stuff. Until it turned into a nightmarish fiery hellscape.
Eddé says the Miami companies she hired to run her floating wedding reception botched her dream ceremony. And she's been in therapy for posttraumatic depression — yeah, the same condition afflicting Iraq War vets who narrowly survived bloody roadside bombings.
"I still think about it every day," Eddé says. "It's a wedding, not a birthday that you get to have every year. It's once in a lifetime, and mine was ruined."
The trouble began just as the young Venezuelan was saying "I do" to her betrothed, Lorenzo Lapi. That was August 14, 2010. Until then, Eddé's big night was going off perfectly. About 75 guests had flown in from South America and Italy. Cars were waiting to take the guests from a chapel to the boat, docked next to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami.
Back on the boat, though, a fire had started in the kitchen. Managers from the company, called Great Bay, waited a half-hour to call 911, Eddé claims. Black smoke was choking the vessel, but the fire was out.
When Eddé and her guests arrived around 10 p.m., they weren't allowed aboard and were instead shepherded into the Hyatt's lobby, where her handmade decorations were haphazardly strewn about. Eddé stayed five minutes and then left in tears.
A year and a half later, she's filed suit against Great Bay and Escopazzo, the company that catered the event. She takes antidepressants and even "had to forego her attendance as the maid of honor at her best friend's wedding," according to the suit. She wants her money back plus damages.
Adam Stanley, Great Bay's general manager, says the caterer was to blame for starting the fire. "We feel terrible for Karina Eddé," he writes in an email. "But these events were out of our control, and I'm sure the company did its best to mitigate the situation."
Emilia Diaz Fox, an attorney representing Escopazzo, says a "hazardous kitchen" was to blame, not the restaurant's owner.
"None of it was her fault," Diaz Fox says. "She served magnificent food. There was much merriment."