Watery Wedding

A non-profit organization seeks to capitalize on the enduring popularity of coastal weddings in Alabama by offering the chance to say "I do" underwater. Adventurous couples may soon be able to exchange vows 38 feet below the surface at a spot dubbed Poseidon's Playground, an area 3.5 miles off the coast of Orange Beach. The location is classified as a near-shore reef and is already home to a number of specially installed structures that serve as a memorial, and soon, an altar.

Building Tourism Underwater

The Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation was founded in 2013 with a mission to promote awareness of and participation in reef systems off the coast of Alabama. It particularly seeks to draw divers of all levels of skill and experience to the area. The foundation made the news a while back when it sunk the "Lulu," a retired coastal freighter. The 271-foot vessel was put down 17 nautical miles south of Perdido Pass. Interest in the project was keen. The organization raised the sum of $500,000 in just five months. The "Lulu" is thought to be the first example of a whole-ship diving reef sunk specifically for the purpose, and it is now a popular attraction for diving enthusiasts of intermediate and advanced skill.

Deep Sea Ceremonies

The idea for underwater nuptials had been floating around for some time. Several local divers and diving instructors are already ordained ministers able to perform weddings. Poseidon's Playground started taking form in December of 2014 with the installation of statues of the mythological figures of Poseidon, Apollo and Venus 38 feet below the surface. The first purpose of the undertaking was to provide a memorial for first respondents, firefighters and law enforcement who have offered themselves in service. Area wedding planners and event coordinators, along with local ministry, the non-profit organization and diving professionals, eventually came together in a perfect storm of tourism promotion. The latest structure to be deployed at the site of Poseidon's Playground by Walter Marine is a shell-encrusted crucifix intended to mark the underwater altar.

Accessible Adventure

Unlike the "Lulu," Poseidon's Playground may be considered a diving area accessible to beginning divers as well as the more experienced. Developers of the idea are optimistic that couples may find the concept unique and attractive without feeling intimidated by the difficulty of pulling off such an event. Local diving professionals wish to assure couples who are interested that it may be a safe experience as well as an unforgettable one. The Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation hopes to join a tradition of below sea level ceremonies long in practice in places such as the Florida Keys and California. While the reality of this kind of wedding may be new to the Gulf Coast, promoters are betting on a positive response.

Breaking Tradition Past the Breakers

As with any unusual choice of venue or theme, a deep sea wedding may make an indelible statement about the couple getting married. An underwater event may also tie into the trend of couples combining their interests and their marriage ceremony. Destination events may draw attention and awareness to the location, in this case the Gulf Coast. Increased tourism may work to continue the physical and financial restoration and recovery of this part of the United States. Going underwater to get married also allows a peek into what lies beneath the public's everyday line of sight.

Concerned amateur and professional divers may use an opportunity such as this to underscore the importance of remembering to care for the earth, and to tread, or swim, responsibly. Alabama divers and organizers are enthusiastic that the prospect of underwater ceremonies may help couples celebrate their shared love of adventure, of the earth, and of each other.

Category: Get Ordained, Perform a Wedding

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