Article 25

Not Quite a Royal Wedding

In Uncategorized on 07/21/2011 at 8:24 pm

Not Quite a Royal Wedding

But a bit of luxury for a homeless couple

By Gregory Flannery

The words of the vows had an inevitable poignancy for guests at the wedding of Mel and Susan Vincent: “in sickness, in health … for richer, for poorer.”

But the outdoor setting was fitting. At the time of their April 18 wedding, after all, the Vincents had been long-term residents of a homeless camp.

Their health problems and economic insecurity were at least temporarily out of sight on their wedding day, however. Susan Vincent was resplendent in a traditional gown, her husband dashing in a tuxedo. A magnificent three-tier cake had been prepared. The couple enjoyed the luxury of a few days in a motel in Colerain Township.

All this was courtesy of people who care about homeless people, including Agape Ministry.

“I’ve done funerals for the homeless,” said the Rev. Steve Carson. “I’ve visited them in hospitals. It’s nice to have a happy occasion.”

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission gave permission to have the wedding at Procter and Gamble Pavilion at Sawyer Point, including the use of a tent, free of charge, according to Carson. Susan Vincent arrived on a golf cart and secluded herself in the tent until the wedding. Mel Vincent, visibly nervous prior to the service, helped carry and set up folding chairs for guests.

Mel and Susan Vincent married April 18. Photo by Jon Hughes/Photopresse.

Ryan Lavalley of West Virginia was one of five Xavier University students in attendance. The students are active in Labre Homeless Outreach, spending Sundays visiting homeless camps in Cincinnati. The 40 guests included relatives of the couple and members of the Iron Samaritans and Cincinnati Highwaymen – Christian biker groups.

Even the weather proved generous. The heavy rain that marked April fell on the day before and the day after the wedding, but a breezy sunshine cast its blessing on the nuptials.

Susan Vincent said she and Mel have been together for 20 years. Lavalley said it was he who suggested they consider marrying.

After a recording of the bridal processional played, Carson started the service. When he asked if Susan took Mel to be her lawful wedded husband, she said, “Of course. Yes.” She could later be heard saying, “Mel, don’t squeeze my hand so hard.”

A panhandler who happened upon the wedding found that he was unwelcome. He approached a group of guests, saying, “Can you please help the homeless?”

Carson heard the plea.

“This is actually a wedding for some homeless people, and you’re crashing it,” he said.

The panhandler apologized and walked away.

Fireworks from nearby Great American Ballpark seemed timed to celebrate the Vincents’ newlywed status. But as if to illustrate the bittersweet flavor of the occasion – a day of celebration, to be followed by a return to a homeless camp – a fireworks technician was injured in the event.

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