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Skydiving newlyweds take the plunge

Published January 16, 2013 1:30 pm

Adventurers • Couple sought an unusual wedding ceremony.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Most couples getting married feel as though they are taking a plunge into a whole new life.

Allan and Emily Wood took that saying to a whole new level when they got married in November.

The Kearns couple were hitched in an airplane high above the Tooele Airport before being hooked together with Skydive Utah instructors and taking a parachute jump to begin their life together.

"We wanted to find something that was unique," said Emily. "Both of us were much more comfortable with the idea of a tight-knit group of friends and jumping that way rather than having a big group surrounding us. We like to do fun things like that."

Allan's brother Nephi became a mail-order minister so he could perform the ceremony. The witnesses included Liz Oliphant and Emily's sister Holly Lozano. Allan and Nephi were making their second jumps. This was the third for Emily, the fourth for Oliphant and the first for Lozano.

The couple purchased shirts big enough to fit over the jumpsuits. Allan wore a black one that identified him as "groom" while Emily put on a white "bride" shirt.

The couple thought about some different ideas for a ceremony. For example, they considered getting married at the top of Angels Landing at Zion National Park, but the travel details proved too problematic.

"Skydiving was definitely the most exciting," she said. "That was the top of the list."

The problem was that northern Utah's two skydiving venues often don't operate when the weather gets cold. The one in Ogden did not open on Nov. 1, but Skydive Utah in Tooele made sure it would be available that day.

Company owner Jack Guthrie said that while Skydive Utah accommodates many marriage proposals, weddings are more unusual, though they have happened before.

"We get four or five proposals a year," he said. "The guy usually lets us know. So far, it's always the male doing the proposing. … We get the two ready to jump. We make sure he lands first. We usually have a huge sign that says something like 'Rachel will you marry me?' We spread that out and, as the woman flies over, the tandem master makes sure they fly over it so she can see it."

He said the fact that Nephi Wood served as the minister and then jumped was rare.

"We do have a person in Grantsville who is a justice of the peace," said Guthrie. "That person doesn't jump, but would gladly marry them in the plane."

The big worry was the weather. The couple had a contingency plan to have a small ceremony in the South Jordan reception center where they would enjoy a more traditional reception for about 200 people after the wedding. But the day turned out to be beautiful, making it possible to complete the dream wedding.

"It was cold up there," said Allan. "But with the thrill of jumping out and the excitement, we didn't notice it too much. We floated down and they let us do some spins. It was fun."

"There was enough going on that we didn't think about being cold," Emily added.

The couple met at Leatherbys in Taylorsville, where they are both managers. Allan started working at the ice-cream emporium and restaurant when he was 15 and has worked there for 17 years. Emily has been there for nine.

"It's fun getting to work together," she said. "A lot of people spend time together [in the evening], but go their separate ways during the day. When you work together, you get a lot of fun time that way. We've learn to handle stress in an environment that is stressed and hurried."

The couple honeymooned in Italy. Now, they are trying to figure out some more adventures for their first anniversary. They have already gone scuba diving together at the SeaBase facility in Grantsville, where Emily actually managed to step on a shark. Surfing together is a possibility.

"He spends a lot of time figuring out fun things," said Emily. "He always has some surprise. I am sure it will be a part of our lives."

For now, though, taking a true plunge was a wild and interesting start to their marriage.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton