Getting hitched in style Wagon trains circle for Westminster couple's wedding


Bridegroom Rex Penick handled the reins of the first covere wagon, as his father-in-law-to-be, Eddie LaMott, sat beside him, cradling a shotgun.

"I'm so proud to be here, just like Minnie Pearl," the bridegroom said to a friend as the lead wagon of the bridal wagon train turned the corner at Center Street and Gist Road in Westminster.

Yesterday, Terri Gibson and Rex Penick, two wagon train aficionados from Westminster, were married while about 150 friends and family circled their wagons around them at the town's Ag Center.

The bride rode in the last of about 19 wagons and buggies.

"Goin' to Get Hitched," proclaimed the sign on the back of the buggy.

Ms. Gibson wore a long white Western skirt and a fancy white Western blouse and carried a single red rose.

Mr. Penick wore a gray jacket, a cowboy hat, a bolo tie and a broad grin.

The wedding party gathered in a circle of bridal flowers that friends laid out on the grass. Ms. Gibson's 10-year-old son, Jason, gave her away.

The Rev. Charles Acker, pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in New Windsor, presided over the standard Methodist ceremony.

But the crowd was anything but standard.

Guests rode in wagons and buggies, on horses and even donkeys. Many women wore old-style dresses with bonnets. Flowers and ribbons adorned some of the animals' trappings.

One guest, Tony "Two Bears" Farace of New Windsor, showed up in beaded buckskins, with a knife in a beaded sheath at his belt. His trapper's persona clashed with the modern camera he used to snap photos.

Mr. Acker wore a gray felt hat and an old-fashioned frock coat he had borrowed to get into the spirit of the occasion.

Halfway to the Ag Center, he was handed the reins of his buggy. Although he hadn't driven one in 30 years, he said, it came back to him. He drove the rest of the way.

Before the ceremony, a Percheron mare named Beclain Becky, pulling the second wagon in line, tried to sneak her face into the back of the bridegroom's wagon to snack on the wedding flowers.

Oney Law Sr. of Bristol, W.Va., directed the wagons, buggies and carts into a circle next to the pines above the pond at the Ag Center.

"I've been in weddings where we hauled the bride in a buggy," he said, but never one with a complete wagon train for an entourage.

He said most guests were wagon-train buffs, who gather about 10 times a year to ride in wagon trains.

"These are all dedicated friends." he said. "There's a lot of effort to it. It's more work than play."

The wagons circled for the ceremony at 11:20 a.m. By 11:50, Mr. Penick and Ms. Gibson were husband and wife, and the wagons headed home on the four-mile drive to the reception.

Before the bride and bridegroom led the way back, black-and-white polka dots and stripes were painted on the mules pulling their wagon.

Mr. Acker said after the wedding that he always tries to individualize every marriage ceremony he conducts. No problem this time.

"It was certainly different," he said, smiling.

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