Pontoon Boat Wedding a First for Minnesota Minister
Pontoon Boat Wedding a First for Minnesota Minister

By Jim Nieman

Randy and Michelle Thoennes like to spend as much time as possible on the lake, so when it came time to choose a wedding location, they selected nearby Lake Darling.

And not along the shore of Lake Darling in Minnesota, but in a boat on Lake Darling, flanked by about 15 other pontoon boats filled with more than 100 relatives and friends.

The wedding party—which included minister John Taplin of New Life Christian Church in Alexandria, Minn.—glided down the middle of the guests’ boats, which were tethered together on either side. It was like they were “coming down the aisle.”

“I’ve probably done 500 to 1,000 weddings, and this is the first one I’ve ever done on a pontoon boat,” Taplin said as he started the ceremony June 22.

The Thoennes attend New Life, and Michelle’s daughter has been part of the youth group at the church.

“They love the Lord, they love each other, and I think they live for the water,” Taplin said.

“Alexander is a town that’s in the middle of lakes,” Taplin said. “It’s a vacation destination for Minneapolis.” Spending as much time on the water during the summertime is what many people do.

By chance, Craig Mische, a former high school classmate of Michelle’s, was nearby and saw the gathering. After receiving permission, he used his drone to take some wedding photographs (which he provided for use with this article).

Taplin said a Christ-focused ceremony that included several elements of a church wedding but conducted on a lake with friends who may not be familiar with Christianity, was a way for the couple to share their love for God with their friends.

“They wanted to be an example,” Taplin said. “This was their desire . . . to make a statement to their friends.”

And, as one friend told KARE 11 television: “Randy knew that if they’re going to do a wedding in the summer and it’s a nice day there better be boating or water or something involved because otherwise a lot of us wouldn’t go . . . because we’d have to leave the lake.”

The couple honeymooned on the lake (as you might have guessed).

Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.


Read more about the Thoennes’ wedding, and watch video, at www.kare11.com. The Echo Press of Alexandria also carried the story.

Photos courtesy of Craig Mische.

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