Wedding on ice: Willmar, Minn., couple exchange vows during curling-themed ceremony
WILLMAR -- They say that the couple who laughs together, stays together. If that's true, then Susie Dunlap and Randy Czarnetzki should have a long, happy life together.
On Saturday, the couple wed on the ice at the Willmar Civic Center in a curling-themed wedding. Curling, an Olympic sport, involves two teams shooting heavy stones down the ice toward a target -- not exactly the picture of romance. But from beginning to end, the "wedding on ice" was filled with originality, laughter and plenty of love.
When the couple first started planning their wedding, they knew they wanted to incorporate curling elements into it. Both Dunlap and Czarnetzki serve on the board of the Willmar Curling Club and regularly travel around the area to participate in curling bonspiels, or tournaments.
In addition to curling, the couple also wanted to make sure their wedding reflected their personalities. Dunlap and Czarnetzki, both of Willmar, describe themselves as "fun" and people who "don't take ourselves too seriously." Both have been married before and wanted their wedding to be less formal than their first. So from the Facebook wedding invitations to the humorous vows to the potluck-style reception, there were very few traditional elements to their nuptials this weekend.
"We wanted the wedding to reflect us," Dunlap said. "We really wanted it to be like a party with our friends and family."
With that spirit in mind, Dunlap and Czarnetzki kept their guests laughing throughout the ceremony, especially when they recited their original vows to each other: Czarnetzki vowed to "always keep my zipper zipped," while Dunlap vowed to "always be your girlfriend" and "always keep you warm. Menopause is coming."
"Our vows were both humorous and meaningful to us at the same time," Dunlap said after the ceremony. "Married life is what you want to make of it. You have to figure out what battles you want to fight."
"I think because we've been married before, we see things a little differently," Czarnetzki said of their vows. "We know that you have to cut loose every once in a while to really enjoy each other."
To stay true to their curling theme, Dunlap and Czarnetzki started the ceremony on the opposite end of the arena and shot two curling stones carrying their wedding rings down toward the other side of the ice.
The couple then walked down the "aisle," surrounded on either side by around 40 curlers who made an archway with their curling brooms. Some of the curlers were from the area; others were in town for the weekend's curling bonspiel. One of their close curling friends, Art Benson of Willmar, officiated the ceremony.
Like most weddings, it ended with a kiss. Unlike most weddings, however, theirs was followed by a breakout of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and a call for guests to meet them in the lobby area for a potluck-style reception.
On their Facebook wedding event page, Dunlap and Czarnetzki had asked for everyone to bring a dish for the potluck instead of wedding gifts. Between the wedding's nearly 200 guests, the potluck included an array of food ranging from salads to lasagna to pork sandwiches and fried chicken.
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, Czarnetzki had specifically asked for a "cake" made out of Twinkies, Ho Hos, Suzy Q's and Ding Dongs.
"It was our redneck wedding cake," he said. "I saw a picture of it on the Internet and knew we had to have it."
Despite all of the planning and thought they put into their wedding on ice, there were a few minor "glitches" here and there, the couple said after the ceremony. They had a few audio problems, and when Dunlap shot her curling stone down the ice at the beginning of the ceremony, the ring fell off and had to be carried up to the front.
"I would say the wedding went well, but not as planned," Dunlap said. "But everybody laughed and had a good time, and that was most important to us. Every wedding has its issues, and now we have wonderful memories that we can look back on and laugh about."
"It was a little tricky because we didn't have the ability to do a run-through because of the bonspiel taking place," Czarnetzki said. "There was some last-minute hysteria."
Now that the wedding is over, Czarnetzki and Dunlap plan to take the week off and just relax. They won't take a honeymoon, but next weekend they're headed to Centerville, Wis., for -- what else? -- a curling tournament.
"We just go back to life as normal now," Dunlap said. "We'll live our happily ever after as husband and wife."