Natchez couple marries in balloon

Published 12:04 am Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat Lindy Cardneaux and Andre Farish wave as their hot-air balloon lifts them to their wedding in the sky.

NATCHEZ — The only thing as beautiful as the view of Natchez Andre Farish took in from the basket of the Budweiser hot-air balloon Friday morning was his new bride, Lindy, Farish said.

The couple exchanged vows at 8:40 a.m., 526 feet above sea level at the global positioning system coordinates of 31 degrees and 35.527 minutes north of the equator and 91 degrees and 22.780 minutes west of the prime meridian, their balloon pilot Steve Jones said.

“It was perfect, magical,” Farish said.

BEn Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat Lindy Farish celebrates her marriage to Andre Farish Friday morning by sprinkling rose petals from the balloon in which they said their vows.

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Lindy Cardneaux, a veteran at flying in balloons, went up with her now-husband on his first ride last year.

Shortly after that ride, the two became engaged and agreed October nuptials in the clouds were the way to go, Farish said.

“Do whatever blows your dress up,” Farish said. “And (getting married on a hot-air balloon) blew our dress up.”

Judge George Ward, who married the couple, experienced a view from the top Friday for the first time in a balloon.

Stephanie Hutchins of Southwest Distributors, the company that own the balloon they call “Pop-A-Bud,” said conducting a wedding ceremony in a hot-air balloon is not a perk the Great Mississippi River Race offers, but the sponsor made a one-time exception for Lindy as a former longtime employee.

Hutchins wrapped tulle around the top of the basket and hung flowers from the corners, she said.

“It was absolutely perfect,” Hutchins said. “The weather was perfect, the flight was perfect, and they were married in the air.”

Lindy, who donned a maroon sweater and jeans for the unconventional exchange of vows, threw rose petals at the crew upon their decent.

“They had a picture perfect landing,” Hutchins said.

While Farish and Cardneaux tied the knot after launching from the Natchez-Adams County Airport, several other balloons took off across town near Cemetery Road for an hour-long flight across the river.

GMRBR pilot organizer Sally Durkin said the weather was near perfect Friday.

Durkin said a low fog had potential to cause problems at the landing site in Concordia Parish near Louisiana 131, but every balloon landed safely.

“It was a great first day,” Durkin said.

A handful of balloons that flew Friday also carried cyclists, who, upon landing, raced on bikes back to the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Winners of the balloon biathon included pilot Karen Kent and cyclist Frank Moak in first place; pilot Wayne Standefer and cyclist Morgan Ryan in second; and pilot George Richard and cyclist Kenny Bellau in third.

Durkin said the outlook for today and Sunday’s weather is still predicted to be ideal for ballooning.