by: Lee Pitts

I've been to two weddings lately and neither was inside a church. One was on the beach at sunrise where the barefooted couple was joined in matrimony by a pony-tailed preacher named “Big Wave Dave.” The other “non-traditional” wedding was in an airport hanger. After the vows the betrothed skydived to earth together, which seems appropriate, don't you think?

These days a groom can take their bride for a ride while river rafting, dog sledding and downhill skiing. A growing number of young people are even tying the knot in romantic ranch settings. The advantages of a ranch wedding are obvious: you can register for gifts at the feed store, the only Limousin involved is a breed of cattle and Dear Abby is totally unprepared to tell you how to stage the event. I, however am not.

Q. What should the bride and groom wear for a ranch wedding?

A. Lots of boots and buckles. No soft shoes, sidearms or handcuffs. The bride should wear a white Stetson, a black one if it isn't her first trip down the bridal path.

Q. What music should be played?

A. Your Cheating Heart.

Q. What flowers are appropriate for a ranch wedding?

A. No alfalfa sprout garlands in the hair or anything else that might attract hungry cows. You don't want your wedding stampeded by beasts who think it's feeding time.

Q.Speaking of beasts, are guests still seated on the bride or groom's “side”?

A. No. The groom probably has no friends and it might get confusing if the two lovebirds are related.

Q. Invitations are so expensive, how can they be deleted?

A. Just spread the word that you are having a roping after the wedding and everyone will show up, including several lonely cowboys who just want to kiss the bride.

Q. Our only concern with having a wedding outdoors is that it might rain?

A. Let's hope so. Spouses are like buses, a new one comes along every ten minutes but a good rain is rare.

Q. Is there anything wrong with having the wedding guests sit on bales of hay?

A. With the high price of hay the guests may take home your hay in their pockets.

Q. How much should we expect to pay for a ranch wedding?

A. What's this “WE” business? All expenses should be paid by the father of the bride. The only thing the groom has to do is show up with his hair combed.

Q. Our preacher refuses to marry us in a corral. Any suggestions?

A. Hire the veterinarian to be master of ceremonies. No doubt, he'll show up late but get him to look at the lump-jawed cow while he's there.

Q. It is proper to throw rice at a ranch wedding?

A. Rice is not considered environmentally correct any more. Alfalfa cubes would be better... that way the cows will take care of the cleanup.

Q. Is it absolutely necessary to serve alcohol at a ranch wedding?

A. Are you serious? When the groom says he's “going to tie one on” he's not referring to a necktie or an apron.

Q. My future husband is flat broke. Do we need a prenuptial agreement?

A. No, you need your head examined. What do you see in this guy anyway?

Q. Do you have any other quick tips about having a wedding back at the ranch?

A. Yes... watch your step.

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