It was a moment they had both been waiting for.
Seaman Dylan Ruffer returned home from an 11 month deployment, stepped off a plane in the airport early today and married his school sweetheart. The reception was held in the baggage area.
Travelers in Reno-Tahoe International Airport heard, “Ladies and gentleman, I present Dylan Ruffer, United States Navy,” over the loud speaker as Ruffer, 19, made his way to the top of the escalator in the arrivals terminal and descended in a hurry through a trellis of flowers and white fabric at the bottom, to give his bride, Madison Meinhardt, a long hug. Meinhardt, also 19, was resplendent in a white gown.
Ruffer, who is from Chester, Calif., had been aboard the USS Gravely for the past 11 months, much of that time off the coast of Syria. The ship returned to Norfolk, Va., Monday and Ruffer promptly flew from Norfolk to Chicago, from Chicago to Denver, and finally landed to the Reno Airport at 11:23 p.m. The wedding began just before midnight and ended in the early part of today.
“It’s definitely more than we could have ever asked for,.” Meinhardt, who teared up during the ceremony, told ABC News Reno affiliate KOLO. “We were expecting a wedding in the corner maybe, but this is amazing,” she said.
“I don’t think we could have imagined how beautiful the ceremony was going to be,” Brian Kulpin, spokesperson for the Reno-Tahoe Airport , told ABC News. “It was beyond our expectations.”
After the ceremony, the reception was held in baggage claim. The airport roped off a section in baggage claim, and family members and friends dined from a buffet of food donated from the airport. A DJ, a wedding photographer salon services, decorations, flowers were all donated to the couple by local businesses. Because the newlyweds were only 19, no alcohol was served.
“They didn’t have the money to put on the wedding,” Kulpin said. “Now they had a wedding they will never forget.”
Ruffer is home for six days before returning to Norfolk for duty.