Local Couple Gets Married with the Longest
Walk – or Rather Run – Down the Aisle
By JOY CRIST
you were nervous and sweating walking down the aisle at your wedding,
then just imagine if that aisle was a little more than 13 miles long…
and also, instead of walking, you were running.
was exactly the scenario when Matthew and Melinda Cartwright donned
their wedding attire, laced up their wedding-themed black and red
sneakers, and took off running during the Flying Pirate Half Marathon
in a race to the finish, and inevitably, matrimony.
couple, who had met while they were both coaches for GO FAR (Go Out For
A Run), and who were both avid runners, decided to get married at the
finish line of the Flying Pirate Half Marathon after running the full
race – a unique move that was actually a perfect fit for Matthew and
weeks after we met, we ran our first marathon,” says Melinda, “and he
proposed to me at mile ten of the Outer Banks half marathon in
November, with all our family and friends there. So when we were trying
to find a location for our wedding, and kept hitting walls, I said
‘let’s just run the half marathon and get married at the finish line.’”
“It was half a joke at first, and then we thought, ‘that’s so us!’”
run they did, in a full white dress and veil for the bride, and a full
tuxedo for the groom, attracting plenty of attention along the way from
their fellow runners.
response was amazing,” says Melinda. “People were like ‘The altar must
be the other way, if you’re running in this direction!” or ‘Runaway
bride!’ We laughed and said, ‘we’re actually running towards our
wedding, and not away from it!’”
runners and spectators took selfies with the couple mid-motion, and
even the race officials took a moment away from their duties to snap a
photo or two. But the road to the aisle – like most weddings – wasn’t
always smooth sailing.
first mile it rained on us, so we got all wet, and then it was so hot,”
says Melinda. “’I felt bad for [my husband] because he had long sleeves
on under his tux. Then, that last 3-4 miles of the marathon is all
hills and hiking trails, and it was muddy… but somehow the dress
managed to stay clean.”
other runner said ‘I’m filthy! How the heck is your gown so sparkling
white?’ I didn’t know. I figured it would be filthy coming out the
woods, but not at all.”
There was no pause in the action when they reached the finish line, either.
soon as they arrived, Melinda’s oldest son met her at the finish,
handed her the bouquet, and they walked a few yards to where her
soon-to-be husband, a pastor, and all of their friends and family in
wedding attire were waiting.
couple’s combined six children - Esme 4, Janie, 6, Gabby 9, Noah 11,
Emmiline 13, and Josiah 16 – were all attendants in the wedding, and in
addition to the family and friends who met them at the finish line, the
couple was greeted with plenty of impromptu spectators.
were so many people we didn’t even know who were at our wedding,” says
Melinda. “A lot of people we met along the course joined us at the
decked in their wedding attire and their newly acquired finishing
medals, the couple said their “I Dos” and then headed to the Hatteras
Village Civic Center for the 6:00 p.m. reception.
And that’s when the festivities began to get even more interesting, and even more fun.
you have six kids, you want the reception to be fun for them, so we
told all our friends – ‘Be sure and bring your kids!’” says Melinda.
“We ended up wondering if we would have more kids than adults.”
feasted on classic southern fare including pulled pork, sweet tea and
beer, while the kids stayed busy at the huge candy bar designed just
for them. There was also an array of crayons, markers, and tables lined
with paper so the kids could color and have fun.
of a guest book, we also had people use sharpies and sign the flag we
carried [during the race] at the wedding,” says Melinda.
The pièce de résistance at the reception, however, was the wedding dance.
as the couple was swaying to their slow wedding song, “A Little
Unsteady,” the music changed to the Mission Impossible theme, and the
children busted out from hiding places with Nerf guns blazing.
basically had a Nerf gun war in the middle of the dance,” says Melinda
laughing. “And we had strategically placed Nerf guns all over [the
reception hall] so people could join in.”
“Our friends are already calling it the ‘Nerf Gun Wedding,’” she adds.
that’s not all their guests are saying. Many attendees have commented
that it was one of the most fun and comfortable weddings they’ve ever
been to, and surely with a race to the altar followed by a Nerf gun
finale, it’s one of the most memorable for guests as well.
if you think that after such an active wedding, the Cartwrights are
surely intending to relax and take it easy for their honeymoon, think
Sunday afternoon, the couple was headed for Hot Springs outside of
Asheville in the NC Mountains to start on their next adventure as a
actually hiking to the top of the mountain and doing our wedding
pictures there,” says Melinda. It’s going to be a three mile hike
from where we’re staying, and we’ll be doing it in our [wedding
“It might be a little different, but it’s definitely us.”