"Shotgun Wedding" new feature at Dalton Days
POSTED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 7:07pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 7:14pm
Longview, TX — When Nicole and Michael Joseph renew their vows April 14, they might feel a little more pressure than they did at their first wedding almost three years ago.
After all, this time, they’ll be surrounded by hardened criminals — bank robbers, to be exact — who wreaked havoc on downtown Longview in 1894 — or so they’d have you believe.
The Josephs are the first couple signed up to participate in a new addition to Longview’s annual Dalton Days — a shotgun wedding, with couples escorted to the altar by the actors who will help recreate one of the Old West’s bloodiest shootouts. Dalton Days is the Gregg County Historical Museum’s annual re-enactment of that May 23, 1894, event, when famous outlaw Bill Dalton and gang members Jim Wallace and brothers Jim and Judd Nite rode into Longview and robbed the First National Bank. Wallace and two residents who tried to fend off the robbers were killed.
Dalton Days has expanded each year to include more than just the re-enactment. This year, the event will include a Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association competition, live entertainment, a barbecue cook-off and a children’s area with pony rides, a petting zoo, crafts, child fingerprinting by the Longview Police Department and more.
Nicole, 28, and Michael, 27, were married just one day (and 115 years) before the anniversary of the shootout. The couple’s first wedding also was nontraditional, a compromise in accordance with their different religious beliefs.
“I wrote the entire ceremony, so it wasn’t traditional,” said Nicole, who is assistant director of the Gregg County Historical Museum. The wedding was held at Ella’s Garden near Houston, where Nicole’s family is from. “It was in Texas. We had fajitas and margaritas.”
The couple, she said are “both nerds,” and they met after playing an online game together, “Final Fantasy.” Three years later they were married. They moved to East Texas from Louisiana when when he landed a job as an engineer at General Cable in Marshall. Nicole, who has a master’s degree in history, started as a volunteer at the museum before she was hired as assistant director.
The couple thinks renewing wedding vows is something people should always think about, even within the short time they’ve been married.
“We think it would be a good thing to tell each other why we got married and what’s expected of each of us,” she said. “It will be fun. We both like to have fun.”
Couples who participate in the wedding may choose their attire — formal, western, whatever. The Josephs will shed the formal wedding attire this time around.
“We’re both going to be going the western route,” Nicole said. “We’ve done the dress, and I’m not getting that out and taking it to the dry cleaners.”
There’s still time for couples to sign up for the shotgun wedding, and yes, it’s for people who want to renew their vows or actually get married. People who participate in the wedding with chaplain Jerry Haymes will be legally married at the end. They’ll also get a free night in a local hotel in celebration of their nuptials.
“You get to be married in a community setting,” Nicole said. “On the other hand, with the economic recession ... weddings can be very expensive. This will be a fun and virtually free way for people to get married.”
Here are the rules for people who want to take their vows with members of the Dalton Gang as escorts:
* Participating couples must provide proof of marriage license to the museum by April 7;
* Couples must be at least 18;
* Couples must pay a $25 deposit that will be refunded after the ceremony;
* Couples who sign up by Thursday may participate in a free Pre-Martial Relationship Workshop from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, offered by We VOW Now, at the Gregg County Historical Museum Education Center; and
* Couples who participate in the class receive their marriage license free (county fees might apply).
* Call (903) 753-5840 for information.