Of Marriage and Manatees

A dream wedding with the manatees in Crystal River Florida began with a dream and a problem.

First, the dream: Aries Fisher grows up dreaming about manatees, filing reports with her grade school teacher and drawing supporting pictures to adorn the refrigerator and bedroom walls at home.

Next, the problem: Aries, now an adult, meets the man of her dreams—Erik Provost—but he doesn’t like to get dressed up.

Aries, ever positive, finds a serendipitous solution: Flee wintry Connecticut to get married in comfortable summer attire in sunny Crystal River Florida which just happens to be the Manatee Capital of the World. (www.discovercrystalriverfl.com)

Enter Captain Cindi Guy: “They wanted to get married and I offered them the option of getting married in the water and then go on a swim with the manatees tour afterward.”

Serendipity strikes again! Captain Cindi just happens to run Majestic Manatee Tours and Wedding Chapel (www.majesticmanateetours.com). Sheer bliss!

Citrus County Manatees

“The local courthouse stopped doing weddings,” Cindi explains, “so I began doing them. We’ve married over 90 couples in just the last year.”

Not all the weddings, of course, are in-water weddings. But many couples opt for the added feature. Cindi, for instance, recently married a mermaid and her fiancé who flew in from New Foundland…

Sorry. We’ll save that for later. Back to Aries and Erik:
As you will recall, Erik was saying, “I hate getting dressed up.”

Aries, with fresh intelligence says, “Well, if you only had to wear a wetsuit for your wedding how happy would that make you?’”

At which point Erik replies, “Extremely happy.”

Forward now to a February morning in Crystal River Florida where Aries and Erik march to their boat hand in hand. (There will be no march at the wedding today since bride and the groom will be swimming.)

At the boat, Captain Cindi pins a fresh flower to Erik’s wetsuit while Aries is crowned with a lovely tiara of flowers and ribbons. Appropriate to the special occasion, she looks magical!

The boat ride across Kings Bay is filled with anticipation as the craft approaches what is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful natural springs in all of Florida.

Three Sisters Springs is a breathtaking crystal clear one-acre spring isolated in a forest glen.

The manatees are out for lunch at the moment but no worries. They’re nearby and the couple will see them soon. With a smile as bright as the perfect sky above, Aries makes her way through the spring’s narrow one hundred meter long entrance which serves today as an aisle. A chorus of birds sing from the trees.

The intimate ceremony lasts but a few minutes. Cindi carefully hands over the rings and vows are quietly said. The pronouncement is made and the newly wedded couple kiss, hug and erupt with palpable glee.

With the ceremony complete, it’s off to swim with the manatees on lovely Kings Bay.

“We always dreamed of swimming with manatees,” says Erik, “but getting married and swimming with manatees all in the same day kind of left me shaking.”

“It was like an out of body experience,” adds Aries, “it was really special.”

By Miles Saunders