Wedding Guns, Now That Has a Ring : Marriage: Offbeat nuptials have become an American tradition. The only rule that still applies is the presence of a bride and a groom.

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It’s half-past June, and you’ve had it with throwing bridal showers, catching bouquets and eating white cake. If you hear one more band play “Celebration” one more time, you will stay single for life.

You, my weddinged-out friend, have been going to the wrong weddings.

You probably missed the ceremony where two Humane Society supporters walked down the aisle in Oregon with dogs as their flower girl and ring bearer. Or when an Alaskan member of the National Rifle Assn. exchanged semiautomatic pistols with his bride instead of rings.

In fact, offbeat weddings have become an American tradition. And though this is the favorite month for nuptials--about 252,000 couples married in June last year--any time seems the right time to, say, exchange vows under water.


There is only one rule among the wacky wedding crowd: If you have thought of it, it has been done. Weddings you have never thought of have been done. Weddings you cannot describe with a straight face have been done.

For some, it’s a matter of mixing wedlock with pleasure. When people say that marriage is a big step, they probably are not referring to those sky-diving couples who marry in midair.

Last year, two runners stopped in the middle of the New York City Marathon--dressed in cutaway bridal attire--to pledge their love as TV cameras rolled and sweaty competitors raced past.

(According to etiquette, of course, that bride did not sweat. She blushed.)

Computer-philes have held on-line weddings, where the bride and groom type in their vows as friends and family across the country join the ceremony via home computers.

Romantic? Ridiculous? It depends on your point of view.

Others have used weddings to proclaim their allegiance to a place.

One bride walked down the snack aisle at a 7-Eleven, where she and her fiance were working when they met. Two bikers said their vows in front of leather-clad comrades at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop. A couple fond of the old West arrived for their ceremony on horseback, pledged their love in cowboy hats, and left in a covered wagon.

Then there are those who pay homage to places not found on any map: One Indiana bride wore ruby red slippers as she walked down a “yellow brick road” runner before friends dressed as Munchkins.


No study has been done to see if these couples stay together any more than the American average--which now stands at a dismal 50%, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Inclement weather has produced an offbeat wedding subcategory: The we-could-not-get-there affair, courtesy of snowstorms, avalanches, hurricanes, you name it.

Last year, an avalanche blocked a Colorado bride and groom from reaching their wedding site. While they went back to town to be married, their friends at the mountain inn drank champagne and ate wedding cake without them.

A sub-subcategory--the soggy wedding--was swollen last year by the Midwest’s flood of the century.

Humor was needed to survive nuptials where a portable toilet was among the wedding gifts; where the liquor flowed but the running water did not; where the bride wore military fatigues and left for the honeymoon in a military Jeep; where flooding turned starched bridal gowns into sodden, pearl-seeded lumps of cloth and put bakeries and florists under water.

“For wetter, for worse,” read one wedding party T-shirt in Des Moines.

Some classic wedding spectacles have involved police.

A bride in Kentucky went on a $1,500 shoplifting spree the morning of her wedding, gathering items that anyone would need--a dress for her, a suit for him, a video camera to film the event. The wedding was delayed a few hours while she and her sister posted bond.


The light-fingered bride might have avoided jail altogether if she had followed the lead of another famous bride: Marla Maples.

Pressing the “something borrowed” tradition to the limit, the woman who wed Donald Trump last December persuaded jewelry merchant Harry Winston to lend her a $2-million diamond tiara for the event.

Ah, friends.

Lest one despair at the rash of publicity-seekers and the glut of wedding plans gone awry, rest assured that truly heartwarming weddings still resonate above the din. And love can survive even the test of time.

One pair of high school sweethearts eloped in 1927 at age 14 and 16, but their parents annulled the marriage. After 64 years apart, two marriages, children and other lives, they met again after both were widowed and remarried a few months later.

“I thought of her often over the years,” Paul Tarvin said on the eve of his second marriage to Nina Downs. “After all, she was my first love.”