Divers trade wedding vows and a kiss underwater

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Posted by on April 25, 2005 at 04:52:55:

In Reply to: Scuba enthusiasts wed 15 feet under posted by on April 25, 2005 at 04:48:06:

Through the frigid, murky brown water, Curt McNamee, 53, and Mel Clark, 31, both of Everett, held their laminated signs declaring "I do."

While a dozen scuba divers caught them exchanging a long wet kiss about 15 feet under water, guests and onlookers clapped with celebration on the rocky shore of West Seattle as they watched a live video feed of the wedding vows yesterday.

After meeting on a scuba-diving trip and dating for three years, McNamee, a mortgage broker, and Clark, a pharmacist and dive instructor, thought the best place to celebrate their second marriages was in the waters of Alki Cove 2.

"We're both scuba-diving enthusiasts," McNamee said of himself and his bride. "And we thought, 'Let's just do something different.' She's very outgoing, competitive and smart. I love her dearly."

Clark said, "Curt is kind and a patient soul."

To pull off the underwater feat, the couple had to be creative and take things like the tide table into consideration.

With Elliott Bay just 49 degrees, the wedding party was clad in bulky, black dry suits. Yet, the couple managed to look like a bride and groom, with Clark holding flowers and wearing a skirt and veil decorated with fishing lead weights to prevent the material from floating, and McNamee sporting a T-shirt tuxedo and top hat with holes to let the bubbles escape.

McNamee even made carved, gold-painted wedding bands out of PVC pipe so that the rings could fit over their gloves during the ceremony. They also trained their pastor and longtime friend, John Burkholder, to scuba dive one month ago so he could conduct the service. Because they couldn't talk underwater, they made waterproof signs.

As with most weddings, there's always the unexpected.

For McNamee and Clark, it was an algae plume that exploded under water yesterday morning, making visibility barely two feet.

"It's like it's raining on your wedding day an algae plume," Clark said. "Hopefully, it's not a bad omen."

The wedding ended with the newlyweds jumping onto a nearby boat and motoring off. They will spend their honeymoon at Port Hardy, B.C., off Vancouver Island, scuba diving for one week.

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