Tony Miller, of Rockton, Ill., always dreamed of docking a pirate ship in his front yard, but his fiancée, Kaela Schenk, never really took him seriously until he proposed the idea of getting married aboard the boat.
“When we first met, when someone tells you something crazy like that, you think, ‘O.K., whatever, that’s not going to happen,’” Schenk, 27, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “As you continue dating, he stills throws it out there about the pirate ship, and then he says, ‘What if we get married on it?’ I thought that actually could work, because I always wanted to get married outside. So one thing led to another, and we bought the backhoe to start digging for the pond.”
The couple began building their dream love boat three months ago, and plans were going swimmingly to have the ship completed by their Aug. 3 wedding date.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to build,” Miller, 35, said. “Something really unique and big and I could tinker around with for a while. Something that would make an atmosphere to come home to that feels you’re coming home to a vacation.”
However, as their wedding date approached, their plan was almost sunk by some bureaucratic red tape. Winnebago County officials issued a stop-work order after realizing that Miller had been building without a permit, because, for lack of a better reason, there was no available permit for this kind of work.
“When I approached them, they said, ‘We can’t do anything because we have nothing for pirate ships,’” Miller explained. “But now they do. It’s called an ‘accessory structure.’ They said, ‘We are going to assist you in trying to get this thing legal. We’re going to do the paperwork, and you work on getting this thing built.’”
After a weeklong halt in the building, like minds came together to get the proper permit in place, and Miller continued on his ship with the county’s blessing.
“We are 100 percent behind them. I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Jim Hughes, director of development services for Winnebago County. “I think a lot of people in the community appreciate the ship, and the reason behind it is quite meaningful. I wonder what he’s going to do for their anniversary.”
Miller, who proposed last May, says he’s set to put the mast up soon.
“Pretty much everything is still good and we’re rocking and rolling,” he said.
There is one stipulation, however. Although the couple is getting married on a pirate ship, Schenk says that’s as far as the pirate wedding theme will go. In her eyes, it’s not a pirate wedding, but rather, a Caribbean wedding.
“It’s so funny because my mom asked to bring eye patches to the wedding and I said, ‘No! The pirate ship is enough.’ I want flowery, and pretty. I don’t people there with swords acting like Jack Sparrow,” she laughed.