Sea world Underwater Wedding. Mark and Mary Macurda takes the plunge. My Underwater Wedding
In 1976 I married my first husband Mark. I was 18 years old and Mark was 19. We had been scuba diving for a couple years now and I absolutely loved being 20 to 40 feet under the surface. Swimming, being weightless, breathing normally, touching the sea creatures and feeling the velvety slimy coral. The beauty below to me cannot compare to the beauty above.
One day we were having a great time at Sea World in Orlando Florida. We walked into their 600,000 gallon aquarium full of coral and sea life. It was spectacular, all the colors and fish, sharks and Fred the sea turtle. To my wonder was a young lady at the bottom of the tank wearing a bathing suit and she had a clear helmet covering her whole face. She was talking about the sea life into a speaker which we could hear but her face was completely dry, I couldn’t believe it. She breathed through a hose that was attached to an air compressor above called a hooka rig. She was also wearing a weight belt and fins.
I had an epiphany!!!!!!!!!! I thought WOW! what a neat way to get married. Mark thought so to so I called Sea World and they agreed saying “ It would be great advertising for them”. I had to break the news to my parents, family and friends. They thought of course I was nuts but I did not care. My sister and brother were also certified PATI divers. I was so excited and had so much planning to do. It was set for May 15, 1976.
I went to my girlfriend’s mother who knew how to sew. She took two plastic lace tablecloths. One white for the brides dress and one yellow for my sister who was maid of honor. She sewed us a beautiful two piece dress. My sister and I had on plastic high heel shoes and we each wore plastic flowers for a head dress. We both held plastic flower bouquets in our hands during the ceremony. Everything had to be tested by Sea Worlds lab to make sure nothing was toxic to the fish. Mark and my brother wore tuxedo tee shirts. We bought our rings for best man and maid of honor to hand to us at the appropriate time. I was a little afraid if one was dropped we would be searching for it among the sand but that part went smoothly.
So the night before the wedding Mark, the wedding party which included my 6 bridesmaids, family and I were all at a hotel in Orlando. That morning was the trial run. It was a disaster. The first thing we did was for my sister and I to lower ourselves into the very cold water. We walked down the stairs into the tank with our 16pound weight belt. This was heavier than our normal weight belt when diving because the tank had more salt in it. She had her regulator in her mouth so she could breathe from the hose to the top compressor. She starts to go down to the bottom with me following. We were supposed to stand by the large anchor. At the same time across the tank were the guys. They were floating down to the bottom of the tank as well.
Things went wrong. Our top and skirts went up over our heads. The fishing weights we had sowed were not heavy enough. The speaker that was about 10 feet away was working but we could not hear the vows through it. My brother, as I look over to him is half way down but the 85 pd turtle grabbed his black bootie. So he is thrashing to kick him off his foot so he could get back to the surface. This turtle has his same name by the way. It was actually quite funny. When I got back to the top I was pretty upset but Sea world assured everything would be fine in the morning for the wedding. They would make the speaker louder so we could hear our vows spoken from outside the tank by the notary who was a friend of the family. So, the night before my wedding I was sewing fishing weights not partying.
My mom had to pay $500.00 so they could take the dangerous 7ft lemon shark out of the tank and place it in a holding tank.
Day of the wedding was hectic, exciting and scary. We all knew that things could still go wrong especially with the turtle waiting for us so he could rick havoc which he did. The 200 guest were all seated, the radio, newspapers and magazine people were there. It was dark were they were and lit inside the tank so they could see us clearly.
The wedding music starts, my dad is walking me down the aisle to the door that goes into the tank area. The first two come down the ladder and float to the bottom by the anchor. Then Mark and I float down. My sister was floating a few feet off the floor but she was ok. The four of us were all in line until a stingray comes up and knocks my facemask half off. But I recovered quickly. There were so many fish is was at times hard to see the guests. The vows now are being spoken. We can hear everything he is saying now and so can the big sea turtle. He goes over to investigate the speaker wondering why this noise is coming out of it. He bites it a few times turns his head and looks right at me. OH NO!!! Here he comes, to my feet. He grabs the bottom of my dress and starts to munch on it like he thinks its lettuce or something. I start trying to kick him but I’m in water how hard could it be. Mark reaches down and knocks him on the head a couple times, he lets go and swims off.
What a relief. Now I hear him say do you take this women to be your lawful wife?. Mark takes the white message board they gave us. It was about 8”by 8” and an underwater magic maker was attached to it so it would not float away. He writes “I DO” and then shows it to the guests. Then I hear him say do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband? I take my board and write “ I DO” but the O is a heart shaped O and when I turned it around to show everyone I could hear them go AAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWW. I’ll never forget that sound. Then he said to exchange rings. Which we did with no problem. Then he said you may kiss the bride. We both took off our regulator held our breath and kissed with bubbles blowing out of our mouths.
OHHHHHHHHHH YEY, ITS over!!!!!! It was worth it. It’s time for the reception at the Polynesian village. Mark and everyone goes over to get drunk and dance. So I dried my dress off and blew dried my hair, flowers and shoes. I did need to put my makeup back on since I did not get my helmet but a mask. When I was finished Sea World came and took me to a room that had a large microphone. They had already had a couple radio stations in other states waiting to ask me questions on how it went. I answered their questions and then they took me to Shamu the killer whales’s show.
I had asked for a wedding present to be a kiss from Shamu and they arranged it. There was a large audience of people watching Shamu perform, it was a pirate theme. So the pirate takes me out onto the plank and tells me to lean over and he signals Shamu to come up. It was awesome to see this giant whale coming up at me out of the water so his tongue could touch my cheek for a kiss. After that the pirate says so how would you rate that from one to ten?. I said zero thinking it was the best rating. I was wrong it was the worst. He says OH you didn’t like it? I’ll give another kiss. So here comes Shamu again and this time I kissed him on his tongue. Sea world had taken photos and video of the whole wedding and Shamu’s kiss.
It was a fantastic experience and we loved every minute of it.
It got a lot of publicity. It was on the Orlando news two nights in a row. It was many newspapers around the country, on two television shows, People’s magazine, News week, National Enquirer, and my favorite in Jacque Cousteau’s article. How exciting for me for my hero to know of my wedding