Snow can’t stop couple’s long-awaited wedding

TACOMA — Sean Slusar’s Army career has taken him from Iraq to Italy. His Joint Base Lewis-McChord unit is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in the spring.

So he wasn’t about to let a little snow and ice hold up the biggest day of his life.

He and fiancée Bonnie Givens — who became Mrs. Slusar on Friday evening — had been trying to get married for months. Sean proposed in July, and the couple obtained their marriage license in November.

But either his work schedule or hers hadn’t worked out.

They thought they finally had firm plans to marry Friday at Fort Nisqually in Point Defiance Park. Then the storm hit, and the road up to Fort Nisqually was still too dangerous Friday.

Bonnie got the bad news Friday morning from Sean.

“He just said, ‘We can make it work,’” Bonnie said.

And he did — with a little help from Metro Parks and the couple’s friends.

Good thing, too. The marriage license was about to expire after Friday.

“I just decided this is the day,” said Sean, a Stryker infantryman in Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “We are doing it, even though Mother Nature tried her best to stop it.”

With Point Defiance out, Metro Parks offered the Tacoma Nature Center on South Tyler Street.

A parks crew scrambled to ready the center in time for the ceremony, which began just after 5:30 p.m. Friday. Workers led by Nature Center steward Kerry Phibbs included Charles Odom, Rob Ruth, Corky Carmichael, Jeff Briggs, Mike Yaden, Don Brisbois, Rodney Knutsen, Ron Peart and Chris Peart.

They toiled from about 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. plowing snow and clearing debris.

Phibbs said the workers came from all over the park district to help. Without them, he said, he wouldn’t have been able to complete the cleanup in time for the wedding.

Even the bride worked overtime on last-minute preparations. She made her bouquet of stargazer lilies and antique roses. Friends Ted and Autumn Bishop invited Sean and Bonnie to use their kitchen to help prepare food for the reception.

Because of the storm, fewer than half the invited guests were able to attend. Sean’s family is in New Jersey and couldn’t get here. Bonnie’s mom was supposed to come from Idaho, but snowy mountain passes kept her away. The couple plan to hold another reception for family later.

Bonnie said she knew that marrying a soldier meant that life plans could never be set in stone. But it’s a good bet she never expected to have to learn that lesson on her wedding day.

“You know the military,” she said, moments before the ceremony. “You have to be flexible.”

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