PORTLAND – This wedding stuff is nuts, said Crystal Johnson, stretching the final word into three syllables.

Nu-uh-uts!

And no, she wasn’t referring to this morning’s nuptials across the pond at Westminster Abbey.

Johnson spoke about the hullabaloo emanating Thursday afternoon from inside Andrea’s Bridal Shop on Congress Street, where she and her younger sister browsed through bridesmaid dresses and primped before mirrors under the direction of a producer from “Inside Edition.”

The syndicated television program flew the two sisters, who grew up in South Portland but now live in Pennsylvania and Texas, back to Maine for interviews after reading the story of how Emily Johnson relinquished her Miss Maine USA crown after learning the national pageant in Las Vegas conflicted with Crystal’s June 18th wedding.

Emily, who at 23 is two years younger than her sister, will be the maid of honor at the upcoming wedding of Crystal and Jordan Buchmann in the First Free Evangelical Church in Westbrook. The couple met at Philadelphia Biblical University in Langhorne, Pa., and both are due to graduate in three weeks, he with a degree in music and she with a degree in Bible studies and a master’s in Christian counseling.

They became engaged in August. In late November, Emily, with no previous pageant experience, was crowned Miss Maine USA. Not until January did she learn the national pageant, traditionally held in April or May, was pushed back to June 19th at the behest of NBC television.

“When we found out (about the conflict) we were like, ‘What do we do? Do I change my wedding date? Does she do her pageant and is she not going to be in my wedding?”‘ Crystal said. “She’s my maid of honor.”

The only children of Colleen and Ron Johnson of South Portland, Crystal and Emily are particularly close. Witnessing marriage vows is considered sacred duty, so skipping the wedding was never an option. Switching dates after booking flights, a reception hall, a photographer and a beach cottage rental for the groom’s parents would have cost thousands in lost deposit fees, not to mention the added stress for Crystal as she wrapped up her final year of graduate school.

“I can’t thank her enough for the choice she made for me,” said Crystal, who turned in her bound 85-page thesis statement Monday, flew to Portland Wednesday and returned to Pennsylvania on Thursday night. “I will be forever thankful that she chose my wedding over something that was so big and so important to her, and to our whole family, because it was a big deal that she won.”

The first runner-up, former University of Southern Maine basketball star Ashley Marble of Cumberland, took over the title after Emily stepped down and will represent Maine in Las Vegas.

“Ashley Marble is marvelous,” said Colleen Johnson. “She’s been a wonder. She stepped right in and is moving forward with it. She really deserves it.”

“She’s a beauty as well,” Crystal said. “So more power to her.”

Bride and mother spoke quietly as producer Erika Jones of “Inside Edition” instructed a local camera and sound crew to film Emily modeling her pageant gown. Two hours of interviews at their home in South Portland, as well as flights delayed by storms, left the sisters running on fumes.

“This hit big news because of Yahoo,” Crystal said. “They picked up (the original story from the Press Herald) and it was crazy, with all of the hits on that site.”

Jones of “Inside Edition” said no air date has been set for the piece.

“I would say in the next two or three weeks,” she said, “but I don’t know for sure.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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