Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, but one you haven’t seen lately or perhaps, at all, is a float trip wedding.
When making the choice to tie the knot on or near a river, it’s necessary to make a decision right away as to how the float trip will be incorporated into the wedding day. Is the day going to be a traditional float trip on which a couple just happens to get married or is the wedding the event and the float trip a side bar? Literally, is the wedding part of the journey or is it the destination? Deciding up front which one is the main event will make planning the rest of the day’s details easier.
Budget is also a deciding factor. Set a budget and stick to it. The only requirement for marriage in Missouri is a state issued marriage license and two witnesses. The cost of a marriage license is approximately $58 unless the bride or groom are underage and need a parent’s permission to wed. In that event, the cost is $1 more for each parental signature.
The cheapest float trip wedding would consist of the bride, groom, an officiator, two witnesses, a marriage license (inside a waterproof, Ziploc bag), and two canoes. This kind of wedding will run less than $200 with the only expenses being canoe rentals, the marriage license fee, and whatever the officiator charges. If you can convince a friend to go online and become an ordained minister for free, he or she and can perform the ceremony at little or no charge. If you already have the canoes, the cost will only be that of a marriage license. It doesn’t get any cheaper or simpler than that. Cost: $
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a catered, float trip wedding. This type of wedding would entail a float trip at the end of a land-based ceremony. The wedding party would depart from the ceremony site in full wedding regalia and paddle a short distance away to a catered event further down the river. This is only recommended for experienced floaters as flipping a canoe while wearing wedding attire is dangerous. The weight of a waterlogged dress or tux can easily drown a person.
A catered reception will also require road access for the chef and servers as well as the non-floating guests. This type of wedding and reception is just as expensive as a traditional wedding held in a church and banquet hall. It can possibly cost even more because of the added fee for transporting everything to a remote location. Cost: $$$$
State parks located on floating rivers may already have preplanned wedding packages available. It’s a good idea to check with them for suggestions. It’s a possibility that one of their landlubber wedding packages can be tweaked to include a float trip. Cost: $$$
Choosing something in between is probably a better idea. Instead of a full blown wedding gown, how about a simple, fully lined, white dress? Whether you choose a dress, bathing suit or cover-up for your float trip nuptials, make certain that your choice is fully lined if it’s white. In the event that anything gets wet, white fabrics tend to become transparent, and no one wants to be that revealing on their wedding day (or any other day). If white’s not your thing, then perhaps a short veil or tuft of tulle will be enough. For the groom, a top hat goes a long way toward distinguishing him from other run-of-the-mill floaters.
Providing several waterproof, disposable cameras will allow guests to capture the images of an unforgettable day, will save on the cost of a professional photographer, and no one gets expensive photography equipment ruined.
Perhaps, friends and family of the bride and groom can organize a beer and barbeque reception back at the campsite or close to the pull-out area of the float trip. Cost: $$
The day of the week, month or season you choose will also dictate some of the wedding theme. Don’t expect a private, quiet or intimate ceremony on a Saturday in June, July or August. Don’t expect to wear a strapless gown for a wedding in November.
Flexibility is a good characteristic to have for the bride and groom of a float trip wedding. Weather, strangers, and traffic can all create havoc on the best laid wedding plans. A heavy rain upstream can create a flood situation making it too dangerous to be near the river much less to float on it. Perhaps, you’ve dreamed of being married on a particular gravel bar, but when you arrive for your nuptials it’s already full of a crowd of strangers who are partying harder than you’d ever want to. Perhaps, when you arrive at this particular gravel bar, you really don’t because it was washed away in last week’s flash flood. If you’ve dreamed of a wedding in the shade of a bridge, be prepared to have the ceremony interrupted when traffic passes overhead. Having a backup plan is good. Having three or four is even better.
There is no right or wrong way to get married, but choose the way that’s right for you. It’s not the ceremony that’s important, but rather the love and commitment a couple makes to one another.