• Wed August 17 2005
  • Posted Aug 17, 2005
Florida couple hold an impromptu ceremony - and they even have wedding (funnel) cake By JEFF ECKHOFF REGISTER STAFF WRITER August 17, 2005 Jeff Whiting plopped down on a bench in the tiny log cabin church and watched as his bride-to-be was fitted for her borrowed garter. He smiled in mock exasperation. "I just wanted to go to the fair," he said. Instead, the 58-year-old Whiting married Tracey Ward, 46, in a hastily arranged ceremony Tuesday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The tiny cabin, a replica of Iowa's first church, built in Dubuque in 1834, now will be forever linked with two Floridians who tied the knot on their second visit to the state. Their first was the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in 2003, when the newly dating couple decided to spice things up with a week of forced, sweaty togetherness. They ended up falling in love - both with Iowa and each other. "We decided that that would be the first real test of whether this relationship was going anywhere," Tracey said. "When we went home, we were still speaking, so that was a good thing." Whiting is a consultant for a real estate investment trust. The former Ms. Ward is a carpenter. They first learned of RAGBRAI from Jim Pugh, a lawyer and vice president for Iowa Farm Bureau. Pugh, who visited Jeff Whiting's Orlando-area farm on a turkey hunt several years ago, was a "one-man chamber of commerce," Whiting said, repeatedly urging the couple to visit his state. So it was only natural that the Floridians called Pugh when they decided to visit this huge State Fair that they'd heard about. "It all started as a joke," Pugh said of his suggestion that the already-engaged couple just get married at the fair. They took Pugh up on it. Roughly three weeks later, with help from several Iowans, who arranged for the chapel, tracked down the judge, and made the bride's Iowa bouquet of corn husks, silks and daisies, the Whitings became husband and wife. "They said they wanted something very laid-back," said Lana Deering, Pugh's executive assistant. "I warned them we'd all be in neon green Farm Bureau T-shirts." The bride wore a yellow tank top and a white veil. She, the groom and the judge all wore shorts. The wedding cake was funnel cake, and the couple celebrated their nuptials with beer from the beer tent. And it all went off without a hitch. (With the possible exception of Judge Robert Hanson who, in a hurry to get back to his church's food stand, walked off wearing one of the television microphones.) Mr. and Mrs. Whiting were scheduled to spend today in Winterset visiting covered bridges and the birthplace of John Wayne. A previously planned Florida ceremony for 400 (and vacation in Guatemala) remains scheduled for October. Only now, it'll be a reception. The Whitings say they plan to come back to Iowa again soon. "This is the epitome of family values," Jeff said. "Good, clean, wholesome entertainment." Not that that was the only thing on his mind. Whiting did take great pains to inspect Hanson's credentials Tuesday morning. "He seems to be legitimate," the groom said with a laugh. "I just wanted to make sure I could still sleep with her in Florida."

  • Source:
  • Author:
  • Posted By:








Related Sponsors

Support these BIKEIOWA Sponsors!