Alaska couple take to the water to exchange vows

KODIAK, Alaska — The bride wore an elegant sleeveless white gown. The groom donned a purple and yellow striped shirt with purple tie. Both wore hip waders.

Kodiak has been the scene of unique weddings before, but the marriage of Dake Schmidt and Kadie Walsh may take top prize. On Saturday afternoon, the pair waded in the middle of the Buskin River, accompanied by their wedding party.

For the operators of MemoryMakers Tour and Guide service, the scene was a reminder of how they work and play.

“That’s about as Kodiak as it gets,” Schmidt said after emerging from the water.

Schmidt, a fishing guide and photographer, and Walsh, who also runs Smarty Pants Graphics, met about nine years ago at the former Buskin River Inn, a hotel and restaurant on the banks of the river.

Since then, they’ve worked together and lived together as Schmidt opened a photography studio and ran his fishing guide business. Walsh started her own graphic design business and continues to help with the guiding operation.

A one-year hiatus in their long friendship only cemented their bond. “It was a long time coming, supposedly,” Schmidt said of the ceremony and his friends’ reaction to the announcement.

Groomsmen and bridesmaids alike carried fly fishing rods into the river — the groomsmen’s were strung in yellow, the bridesmaids’ in purple.

The wedding couple’s rings arrived in the mouths of a pair of fresh-caught king salmon kept in a cooler for the purpose.

After the pair exchanged vows, pledging to stick together “in big houses and small, fish slime and all,” they exited the river beneath a ceremonial archway formed by the fishing rods held by the wedding party.

As spectators left for the wedding reception, the new Dake and Kadie Schmidt found a quiet corner of the river to catch their first fish together — a pair of pink salmon — before joining the party.

Jason Fox, a friend of Dake Schmidt, presided over the wedding ceremony. Fox met Schmidt when the two worked at Pillar Creek fish hatchery. “We just became instant fishing buddies right away,” Fox told the Kodiak Daily Mirror (http://bit.ly/151aONd).

Though he no longer lives in Kodiak, Fox jumped to come to the island when he heard Schmidt and Walsh were committed. Having the ceremony in the river was simply an added bonus. “Knowing Dake, I couldn’t imagine him doing it anywhere else.”

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