Dave invited Larry.
Despite showing up fashionably late — with a plate of marinated venison from a deer he had hunted and butchered himself — Larry beat Dave to the party. Kathleen didn't know he was coming, but remembered his name. To Larry, that was major.
Kathleen just happens to have an extraordinary memory.
Still, when he expressed interest in the 1978 red Ford pickup she had just purchased, she offered to show it to him. They sat talking in the truck for some time. By the end of the night, they had exchanged phone numbers.
Larry called. Kathleen invited him to a concert by Colin Hay, formerly of Men at Work. That night, Dave came along, too. But on Earth Day, Larry and Kathleen went on a solo hike and had a picnic along the Susquehanna River.
That summer, Kathleen and Larry planned to meet at the home of Kathleen's parents, Richard and Deborah, where Larry would meet them, and Kathleen would park her truck so the two could drive on to Maine together.
On the way, "my truck caught on fire, and it died," Kathleen said. She called her parents to tell them she would be quite late. "I hope you like my boyfriend," she told them.
Larry, who in addition to raising beef cattle and hay on the Armstrong-McQuail Family Farm is the livestock farm assistant at the University of Delaware farm, said he had no choice in that awkward situation but to remember his manners and "turn on the cowboy charm."
How does forever sound?
In June 2011, Kathleen, now 30, was on summer break, and Larry, now 38, had a brief window after the first cutting of hay to get away. He planned a trip to Maui, and a proposal at sunrise on Haleakala volcano.
Before they left, Larry got Kathleen's parents' blessing.
But his early-morning hiking plan kept getting vetoed by a teacher who was very happy to sleep in for a change.
One day in Hana, Kathleen lost her silver thumb ring while swimming in a lava cave. Larry hatched a new plan. "We'll come back tomorrow during low tide and I'll look for it," he told her.
The next day, Kathleen assured him the ring wasn't worth too much bother. "He seemed to be on a mission," she said. So Kathleen read The Hunger Games on the sand while he looked.
"So, did you find my ring?" Kathleen asked when he came back to her towel.
"Well, I found a ring," Larry said. He knelt on the lava rock. "Kathleen, will you marry me?" he asked. She burst into happy tears and said yes.
It was so them
The couple were married beneath the boughs of a 300-year-old oak tree on the farm owned by Larry's parents, Larry Sr. and Helen. With sunlight filtering through the leaves, it was the perfect cathedral, Larry said.
Dave, the friend who introduced them, was ordained online so he could perform the ceremony. The 140 guests sat on hay bales covered with burlap.
"The reception was in a barn we cleaned up, and strung with white lights," Kathleen said. She loves music, but not so much DJs, so she collected all their favorites on the couple's laptops.
They worked with a caterer, but the meat was roast beef that Larry and his family raised.
After Kathleen's old Ford burned up, Larry cut it in half with a torch and used the back half to build a trailer. "I call it ‘the better half' because the front half burned up," he said.
The Better Half was hitched to a tractor, and brought Victory, Dogfish Head, 16 Mile and other favorite brews for the reception. It has a long future ahead, Larry said. "We'll tow firewood and hay bales, and pull kids around the farm, when we have kids."
This didn't happen at rehearsal
After the ceremony, the couple got into a buggy that Jordan, a usually calm Belgian draft horse, was to pull toward the sunset.
"We climbed in back, and I was about to hold on, when Jordan bolted," Kathleen said. "I thought I was going to break my arm on my wedding day."
By instinct, Larry reached over and caught his new wife. The guests applauded. Jordan calmed down and they took their ride around the pasture.
The couple, who now live in Newark on the University of Delaware farm, had stacked hay bales so Kathleen would stay hidden from Larry and the guests until it was time to make her entrance. "When I first saw Kathleen emerge ... everything else went away," Larry said. "I couldn't hear the music. I didn't see the crowd, and I did not notice her dad walking with her down the aisle," he said. "It was like a dream sequence in a movie, amazing and magical."
The couple wrote their own vows. Kathleen was crying so hard, she had difficulty getting through hers. When Larry read his, she was struck especially by how happy he was. "That was my favorite part," she said. Larry told her he knew their lives together would be wonderful. "I knew that our real lives were just beginning that day," she said.
The bargain: The couple's photographer is also a friend, and gave them a 75 percent discount.
The splurge: Larry and Kathleen hired a trio of musicians for the ceremony.
Ten days in France.
Behind the Scenes
Dave Lorom, the friend who introduced the couple. He became an officiant online through Universal Life Church.
The Armstrong family farm in Smyrna, Del.
Appleton Catering, Wilmington, Del.
Ceremony: Three members of the Philadelphia String Quartet, Philadelphia;Reception: Tunes compiled by the bride.
Leah Brewer of Brewer Images, Perkasie
After an early spring caused the tulips they planted to bloom a month early, the couple turned to Debbie’s Country Florist in Smyrna.
Country Bride and Gent, West Point, Pa.
By the bride
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