Fantasy on ice: getting hitched on a glacier

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I never should have doubted my daughter’s ability to pull off the most epic, spectacular wedding I’ve ever seen, all while wearing a ball gown, fishing boots and ice crampons.

When Heather told me she and her fiancé Will were getting married on Matanuska Glacier in her beloved adopted state of Alaska, I did what any self-respecting mother of the bride would do. I congratulated the loving couple and began a series of sleepless nights contemplating — perhaps even agonizing — how they were going to pull this off.

“Great!” I said bravely, quelling my immediate fears. “What an adventure it will be…”

She proceeded to gush about the details of these most non-traditional nuptials. Guests would have to have ice cleats and be able to hike a mile to the wedding site on the glacier; they weren’t having any wedding party; my granddaughter would be the ring bearer, not a flower girl; I would play my flute out on the ice; her dad would walk her down a makeshift ice aisle.

“Uh-huh, OK honey, is there a back-up plan if it rains?” I gently asked, and was informed this was a rain-or-shine event and we’d deal with the weather when the time came. I might add here that when our other daughter got married outdoors, there was no back-up plan for that wedding, either, so I bought six dozen white umbrellas as my own insurance policy and thankfully the weather was beautiful.

A week before the glacier wedding, rain was figuring prominently in the forecast. It even rained on the hour-long drive to the glacier. We were equipped with raincoats, ponchos, umbrellas, you name it.

Then the horizon cleared, the rain stopped and all was right with the world. Heather scooped up her voluminous gown, adorned with light blue ruching to match the blue hues of the glaciers, and led the dozens of guests across the icy terrain. She smiled ear to ear the whole time, and the ceremony was beautiful.

My 2 ½-year-old granddaughter provided some comic relief as she delivered the special pouch with the rings.

“It’s a lady bug,” she delightfully declared, eying the bug on the ice.

The only snafu came on my end. My flute case accidentally fell out of my brother’s backpack and crashed on the ice, jamming a key. I didn’t discover the broken instrument until I began playing, so I muddled through the piece, minus the A note. I was mortified and had to explain the flute was broken. No hard feelings from the crowd; many later said it sounded pretty, and there was nothing that was going to spoil the happy couple’s wedded bliss.

Another of my brothers later tried to console me, saying things always happen at weddings, and that I had provided the “sacrificial misstep.” Somehow it didn’t make me feel any better, but I eventually made my peace with it.

The day was otherwise perfect. My worrying was all for naught. They knew all along how they wanted to get married and followed their hearts. The photographs set against the glacier are stunning. Two days after the wedding they took a helicopter to a different glacier for another photo shoot. Those images are breathtaking as they both posed in the blue glacial water, wearing waders underneath their wedding attire.

Another element of this non-traditional wedding was that my daughter bought two wedding dresses (it’s a long story), the spectacular gown for the glacier and a more practical dress for the reception held at a beautiful log lodge near Palmer. “I said ‘Yes to the Dress’ twice,” she told us, tongue-in-cheek.

There was no wedding cake, either. Instead, locally made ice cream in various flavors was served.

If there is a moral to this story, it’s that love conquers all. These two would have been just as happy tying the knot in the rain, I do believe. Our daughter got her dream wedding and we got a fabulous new son-in-law. All that’s left now is the happily ever after.

Features Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or

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