I Was the Wedding Planner for the Guns N’ Roses “November Rain” Ceremony and Reception

(Originally appeared in McSweeney's on June 6. 2024)

Oral Deposition Testimony, Sierra Madre Wedding Centre vs Mike Sacks, Feb 4, 1993

PLAINTIFF: Please spell your name and list your occupation.

DEFENDANT: Mike Sacks. M-I-K-E S-A-C-K-S. Wedding planner.

PLAINTIFF: And how long have you worked as a wedding planner?

DEFENDANT: Since May. This was my first wedding.

PLAINTIFF: Were you familiar with the rock group Guns N’ Roses before being hired?

DEFENDANT (laughing): No. I’m more of a “jazz head.” I’d never heard of the Guns and the Roses.

PLAINTIFF: But you’re familiar with them now.

DEFENDANT (laughing): Oh yes, indeed!

PLAINTIFF: How were you approached?

DEFENDANT: I received a fax about a somewhat large wedding that would be slightly “different.” I located a wedding venue and a church that would suit the occasion. Nothing struck me as odd.

PLAINTIFF: The church on a desolate frontier plain surrounded by mountains? Encircled for no apparent reason by a white-picket fence?

DEFENDANT: That was the cheapest route to take, yes. And that’s what the best man wanted. Slash.

PLAINTIFF: Slash is the guitarist?

DEFENDANT: I mainly know him as the ring bearer.

PLAINTIFF: The ring bearer who forgot the ring?

DEFENDANT (sighing): Yes.

PLAINTIFF: What else did this Slash request?

DEFENDANT: A church with no outdoor electrical outlets.

PLAINTIFF: Slash wanted to play an electric guitar unplugged into any electrical outlets?

DEFENDANT (laughing): He insisted on it, yes.

PLAINTIFF: But then the bride and groom emerged from another church after the ceremony ended?

DEFENDANT: Yes. But I had nothing to do with that church. And I had nothing to do with the groom walking into a deserted ghost town after the ceremony. I don’t know why he did that.

PLAINTIFF: Was a helicopter used to transport the wedding guests to the reception?


PLAINTIFF: The same helicopter tousling Slash’s unkempt locks as he pantomimes on his electrical guitar? The one that was unplugged?

DEFENDANT: As far as I know. The logistics were awful. But that was the plan. The isolated church and then over to a fancier church and then back to the Sierra Madre Wedding Centre for the party itself.

PLAINTIFF: As the hired planner, had you informed anyone beforehand that this could be a heavy-metal-themed reception, with the potential for great, unnecessary, almost wanton destruction?

DEFENDANT: I put in a very specific request for an accordion player to entertain as the appetizers were being served. That hardly implies there’s going to be violence!


DEFENDANT (laughing): No.

PLAINTIFF: Were any actions taken on your part to inform the Wedding Centre that this reception was going to be—as you put it earlier—a little bit “different”?

DEFENDANT: I only said what I knew: that this would be a festive wedding between two extremely attractive younger people. A bit unorthodox, I suppose. Nothing more.

PLAINTIFF: On a side note, were you responsible for the mullet wedding dress?

DEFENDANT: Definitely not. That was on the bride. Or half of it.

PLAINTIFF: Were you responsible for the open-mouthed wedding kiss?

DEFENDANT (groaning): I’m not sure who was responsible for that!

PLAINTIFF: Were you responsible for the gentleman in the blue velvet jacket who flew through the $2,500, five-tiered wedding cake?

DEFENDANT: As in: did I plan that? No way. Who in the hell would plan for that?

PLAINTIFF: Was it your insistence that the reception would not—under any circumstance—take place beneath a tent or a covering?

DEFENDANT: My preference would have been for a tent or a covering. The weather is always a variable. But my clients did not want a tent, as they made crystal clear. How often does it rain in Sierra Madre? Not often, I imagine.

PLAINTIFF: But it did rain that day.

DEFENDANT: Very hard.

PLAINTIFF: Just for the record, was this a November rain?

DEFENDANT: The wedding took place in June.

PLAINTIFF: So this wasn’t a November rain?

DEFENDANT: I don’t know the answer to that.

PLAINTIFF: Did you have any foreknowledge that cutlery would violently and performatively be knocked off catering tables and broken by those fleeing the befouled weather conditions?

DEFENDANT: How would I have known?

PLAINTIFF: This wasn’t something you planned?

DEFENDANT (laughing): I’m not that good a planner. No.

PLAINTIFF: Once it did begin to rain, was it your idea, as the hired planner, to create havoc in a manner not typical for rainfall during a wedding reception?

DEFENDANT: I think that idea came from a Ricky-something-or-other.

PLAINTIFF: Riki Rachtman? Host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball?

DEFENDANT: Sure. I don’t know.

PLAINTIFF: Was it your idea to have the band shelter themselves beneath the catered food tables, to save themselves, while ignoring all others, as this November Rain fell?

DEFENDANT: I was just trying to keep the catered food warm with canned methanol fuel canisters. I was doing my best to keep the older guests calm—

PLAINTIFF: The women in expensive pearls?

DEFENDANT: Them, among others. That kid in the newsboy hat. I was trying hard to prevent the bridal bouquet from being trampled in the rain. I was trying to do a lot of things!

PLAINTIFF: Were you aware, at the time, that a crushed bouquet could signify bad luck?

DEFENDANT (laughing): I was pretty aware by that point that we were all suffering from a bit of bad luck.

PLAINTIFF: Are you aware of the reason for why this bride died?

DEFENDANT: She slipped on something? That was the last I heard.

PLAINTIFF: In the November rain.


PLAINTIFF: Did you plan the bride’s funeral?

DEFENDANT: In that open casket? In that open grave? No.

PLAINTIFF: How many wedding receptions have you planned since this particular November Rain wedding?


PLAINTIFF: Any problems with those receptions? Similar to this one? Any inclement weather? Any overturned tables? Spilled Château Margaux wine bottles?

DEFENDANT: Not even close.

PLAINTIFF: In your honest opinion, how much responsibility should you, individually, incur for the $250,000 in damages suffered by my client, the Sierra Madre Wedding Centre, for this wedding party that you professionally planned that went so wrong?


PLAINTIFF: Is there anything more you’d like to add?

DEFENDANT: (growing very serious): Oh, yes. There’s a lot more I’d like to add. I’m really sorry that the reception started five hours late because Axl was flat-ironing his hair. I’m sorry for those top hats with the silver-scalloped conch ornaments, the devil-oriented rings, the leathered, ass-less chaps. The plastic bride on top of the cake that was also wearing a shorty-short dress. The fact that Slash’s eyes were hidden like an ungroomed sheepdog’s. And that open-mouthed, tongue-drenched wedding kiss… whoofa!

PLAINTIFF: Just so I’m clear: you tell us that you’re sorry… and yet you don’t appear to be sorry enough to pay a single cent for the $250,000 in damages sustained by the Sierra Madre Wedding Centre?

DEFENDANT: At this point, I just need some time alone. Some time on my own.

PLAINTIFF: Because nothing lasts forever?

DEFENDANT: I guess, sure.

PLAINTIFF: No more questions.