Nice day for a wet wedding

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Posted by on April 25, 2005 at 05:03:16:

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

A Mill Creek couple take their vows underwater

WEST SEATTLE - Melanie Clark and Curt McNamee took the plunge Sunday.

The Mill Creek couple did so literally as well as figuratively, as they got married underwater in their scuba gear in a cove on Elliott Bay in West Seattle.

Curt McNamee and Melanie Clark of Mill Creek begin their wedding ceremony on the shore of Elliott Bay in West Seattle on Sunday before heading underwater. Over their scuba gear, the bride wore a white lace dress and veil, while the groom wore a tuxedo T-shirt and plastic top hat.

McNamee, 54, has been diving since 1971, and Clark, 31, is a dive instructor. The two met at the Lighthouse dive shop in Lynnwood about three years ago. McNamee took one of Clark's classes, and the two began diving together.

"It's through our mutual diving experiences that our bond was created," McNamee said.

The idea for the underwater wedding was McNamee's.

"I'm the diving guru, but Curt felt this was the way to go," Clark said, adding she was all for the idea.

The bride wore a white lace dress and veil over her scuba gear, outfitted with lead fishing weights to keep them from floating upward, and she carried a bouquet of plastic flowers. The groom wore a T-shirt made to resemble a tuxedo and a black plastic top hat atop his diving hood.

The ceremony began on the rocky beach, and then the bride and groom, the pastor and about 20 diver friends slowly disappeared into about 15 feet of water, where the couple exchanged their vows.

The ceremony was performed by John Burkholder of Monroe, a friend of McNamee's for 19 years. Burkholder had done some diving years ago, but had to be re-educated to do the ceremony, McNamee said.

Another diver taped the ceremony, and it was shown on three close-circuit TVs set up under a canopy onshore. The more than 50 in attendance - plus numerous passersby - watched with a mixture of laughter and curiosity.

"It's different," said Clark's mother, Rosemary Patterson, who came from her home in Calgary, Alberta, for the wedding.

"She lives diving; it's her love," she said of her daughter.

"It's fabulous," said bystander Carol Nicholson, whose mother lives across the street from the beach.

The water was murky, some of the divers said. The picture on two of the TVs was dark, but on a third the couple and others could be seen clearly.

The couple used laminated flash cards to recite their vows, mouthing along with them the best they could through their scuba gear. When the card "I do" appeared on the TV screens, the crowd erupted into a cheer.

The "rings" resembled large pipe nuts and were slipped on for symbolism's sake. The couple's real rings were worn underneath their diving gloves.

Then a sign was held in front of the underwater camera: "You May Kiss the Bride." The two pulled out their mouthpieces long enough to kiss. The wedding party then bobbed to the surface, and the couple emerged to another cheer. A boat picked them up and drove them on a "victory lap," then dropped them off on a nearby pier.

Their unusual hitching went off without a hitch, mostly. The officiant's wet suit wasn't properly weighted, so some in the wedding party had to hold him down to keep him from ascending.

"The visibility wasn't very good in the water," McNamee said, still dripping wet shortly after the ceremony. "But you know what, it's OK."

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