Monday, May 5, 2003

Couple tie knot after race

And she's off ... to be married

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Runners start
Runners take off along Mehring Way.
(Photo by Craig Ruttle)
Photo gallery
The bride was late for her own wedding, but the guests understood: She had just run a marathon.

Molly McNeil ran the Flying Pig Marathon in a little over 31/2 hours Sunday morning, then freshened up, threw on the new white dress she picked out three days ago and said her vows in the middle of a Covington restaurant parking lot.

As "Here Comes the Bride" started streaming from a boom box, she put a wreath of flowers on her head, looked around at the guests sitting on folding chairs and said, "This is hilarious."

So began the marriage of McNeil, a 27-year-old taking her finals at Xavier University this week, and Jeff Knowles, 26, a chemist. They'd been dating for three years and planned to be married in the fall on a South Carolina beach. But their deal on a house in Blue Ash came through more quickly than expected and they were anxious to move in, said the bride's mother, Janie McNeil.

So when they heard a Cincinnati radio station pitch for a post-Pig happy couple, they volunteered.

Knowles, in khakis, admitted to being a little nervous. But he said he'd definitely remember his parking-lot wedding.

Officiant Steve Hoffman started the five-minute ceremony with a nod to its lack of traditionalism. "But hey," he said, "this is gonna work out just fine."

McNeil and Knowles exchanged rings and vows. Then the bride whacked a pink pig piŅata with a bat until it broke open. The flower girl and other children at the ceremony scrambled for the candy.

The mother of the bride, a decorator, was a good sport. She learned of the quick wedding Friday morning and helped her daughter pick out the dress in less than a half hour. Then, in two days, she organized the reception at her Finneytown house and filled in as florist, buying flowers at Kroger at 10:30 p.m. Saturday and tying them into bouquets.

"I just hope," she said, laughing, "that I live long enough to see her daughter do this to her."



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