Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Florida Scuba Shop Trains Clergy to Perform Underwater Weddings

Why not? Seems like an innovative way to increase business and satisfy a growing trend.

Getting married can be an elaborate, stressful affair. Now try it 20 feet under water -- and make it a Jewish wedding, where the groom is expected to smash a wrapped glass under his heel.

No problem, says Debbi Ballard. The ordained Jewish cantor is training at a Fort Lauderdale scuba shop to perform underwater ceremonies where the groom can smash a light bulb with his flipper and the couple can sip wine out of a sippy cup.

''Not everyone is cut out for a white wedding,'' said Ballard, 47.

Pro Dive International, which plans to offer underwater ocean weddings in the next few months, is looking for pastors, priests and other clergy members willing to take the plunge.

On a recent dive, Ballard tested a mask with a microphone that will allow her to talk to the bride and groom under water while guests on a boat listen and watch through a video hook-up.

Unconventional weddings are gaining popularity among young people, said Jannette Alix, president of the Miami-Dade and Broward chapter of the National Association of Wedding Professionals.

Underwater weddings have been done before, but a Jewish one is rare, she said.

''There's a new breed of people that want something unique,'' Alix said. ``The old-fashioned way is old-fashioned.''

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