Jaunted: Why DTW and why is the runway in particular so special?
Scott:: The Groom, Joe, is Wayne County Airport Authority's Director of Air Service Development. His bride, Ilona, was until recently in a similar position with an airport operator in Russia. The couple met while attending a route development conference a few years back and have been dating long-distance ever since. Neither wanted a big wedding (in fact, the plan was for it to be just the two of them and a minister). So, after looking unsuccessfully for the "magical spot" to say "I do," one day Joe threw-out to me the idea of getting married at the airport. After all, they are both airport people, who met through airport-related work, so it did seem like a natural fit. From that moment, the creative wheels of our Public Affairs team started churning and, after tossing-around several ideas, my team (and Joe and Ilona) all agreed that the end of Runway 9L was the perfect spot for them to tie the knot.
Jaunted: How did you come to join them on the runway?
Scott: Michigan requires two witnesses to sign the marriage certificate, so I got to come along as both Best Man and Maid of Honor. It was definitely my first, and most likely my last, chance to be the latter.
Jaunted: Were they actually married on the tarmac, or just out there for wedding photos?
Scott: They were actually married on the end of Runway 9L, in roughly the same spot they are pictured (above). Runway 9L-27R is one of our two crosswind runways, which are used less than 5% of the time (only when there are strong winds out of the west). So, their wedding didn't have any impact on air traffic. Meanwhile, the end of 9L lies just west of the midpoint of our main departure runway4R/22Lwhich made this spot perfect for capturing air traffic in the wedding pictures.
Jaunted: Has this ever happened before at Detroit Airport? Do you think it'll ever happen again?
Scott: Although DTW's Westin Hotel is a prime location for weddings, we're not aware of any weddings occurring outside on the airfield. And, most likely, it will be a one-time thing considering that it was for an Airport Authority employee, and that the wedding involved just a few people. Had there been guests, or even a wedding party, it's unlikely we'd have been able to pull it off.
Jaunted: Did they fly out for their honeymoon right after?
Scott: Unfortunately, it was right back to work for Joe, who actually left to represent DTW at the same conference where he met Ilona a few years back. But, he did take his new bride with him and I believe the couple are planning to enjoy a few days of R&R together before the conference begins (with real honeymoon to follow).
It's more than a lovely story, it's an incredible one. While weddings could probably occur on runways at airports mostly devoted to general aviation, seeing a couple in tux and white dress on a major international airport (and a major carrier's hub!) runway is quite extraordinary. Of course we may have to borrow the idea if it's ever our turn to walk down the aisle...err, runway.
[Photo: Scott W.]