`Today' wedding goes off without Ophelia

Sarah, Mark say `I do' before millions

September 17, 2005|By Joe Burris | Joe Burris,SUN STAFF

Sarah wowed her wedding guests as she made an entrance in a long, flowing white dress topped off with a veil that draped down to her waist. Mark broke down several times during an emotional exchanging of vows. Katie cried. Al prepared crab cakes and served up warm-hearted banter. And, to the relief of those present at - and millions of others viewing - their nationally televised wedding in Stevensville yesterday, Ophelia never showed up.

The spotlight cast on Maryland's Eastern Shore for nearly two months by NBC's Today show was doused yesterday, but not before the main event: the "Hometown Wedding" of Southern Maryland residents Sarah Raley, 23, and Mark Dale, 26, in a Chesapeake Bay Beach Club ceremony that Today hosts Al Roker and Katie Couric proclaimed one of the most stirring in the six years of the annual event.

"Mark, you even made me cry," Couric told Dale just before she and Roker toasted the couple, "because you meant every word you said." Moments later, the couple, who had been selected from among hundreds of others by Today show viewers to receive an all-expenses-paid wedding, learned those same viewers had chosen the Maldives for their honeymoon destination.

Fast-moving, overcast clouds threatened rain early on, prompting many to fear that the 8 a.m. ceremony would be dampened by remnants of Hurricane Ophelia, which had deluged eastern North Carolina. Instead, the rains never came, and gray clouds gave way to breaks of sunshine about 8:40, just as country music star Trisha Yearwood performed a mini-concert.

The event went off virtually without a hitch, and the Eastern Shore area will undoubtedly benefit from the national exposure. The Beach Club, a favored wedding venue even before yesterday's telecast, won't skip a beat. It stages three weddings today and another tomorrow.

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