Originally Published: 26 APR 23 15:41 ET
By MARY JANE SKALA
KEARNEY, Nebraska (Kearney Hub) — Guests may not remember the bride’s bouquet or the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses at the wedding of Emily Garden and Joel Peterson, but they’ll remember the ring bearer.
It was Louie, the bride’s Dalmatian.
They’ll also remember the flower girl, Norma Schrack, the groom’s 92-year-old grandmother. She tossed flower petals as she rolled down the aisle in her wheelchair.
The happy nuptials took place Saturday in the gazebo at Diva’s at Kearney Floral at 210 W. 21st St.
Louie carried the rings in a pouch that Emily found on the website Etsy and clipped onto his collar.
Emily kept Louie with her on a leash as she waited to walk down the aisle with her father, Joel. Emily’s sister, Abby Garden, was the last bridesmaid in the wedding processional. Just before she walked, Abby gave treats to Louie and showed him that she had plenty more. Then she started walking, dropping a few more dog treats as she went.
When she was halfway down the aisle, Emily let go of Louie’s leash. He trotted down the aisle and stayed with the wedding party without a problem during the ceremony.
It worked out just as Emily had hoped. She described her dog as “a mama’s boy. I knew he wouldn’t want to be apart from me, but I thought the treats might make him go faster.”
The day before the ceremony, she had said, “Ideally, he will just walk down the aisle, but he has a mind of his own, so there will probably be plenty of sniffs on the way.”
Her mother Gina, watching from her front-row seat, added, “Abby left a few enticing treats down the aisle, but he just ran to the front.” Stacy Peterson, Joel’s mother, said, “Louie did great.”
Schrack starred in her role, too. She wore an aqua dress and matching hat that her niece had worn for a wedding in Jamaica. She was escorted down the aisle by her grandson James Schrack, of Windsor, Colorado, the bridegroom’s cousin. James was also licensed to officiate at the wedding.
When the couple asked Schrack to be in the wedding, “I thought they were kidding, but I was honored,” she said. Her smiles at the ceremony nearly matched those of the bride and groom.
Joel described Schrack as “one of the sweetest girls I know.” A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, she came to Kearney 70 years ago to attend the Nebraska State Teachers College — now the University of Nebraska at Kearney — with a friend whose preacher father had just been called to a pastorate outside Kearney. She now lives at Mother Hull Home.
After the wedding Saturday, she said she wished she could get married again so she “could have a wedding that beautiful and elegant.”
The newlyweds grew up in Kearney. Both went to Horizon Middle School and Kearney High School and then went their separate ways, but they reconnected in 2019 after Emily moved to Omaha from Lincoln.
Many of Joel’s friends in Omaha had moved away, so he called her. “I was just trying to rekindle an old friendship,” he said.
Their first date was at the Omaha Tap House. “When he first asked me to dinner that night, I thought we were just hanging out as friends, but then I realized it was a date,” Emily said.
The relationship blossomed from there. “She kept me around. I’m pretty lucky,” Joel said.
Emily works in real estate for Berkshire Hathaway. Joel does outside sales for MSC Industrial Supply. The couple live in Millard and will take an Alaskan cruise for their honeymoon in June.
Stacy Peterson, mother of the groom, said, “I’m proud of Emily and Joel for doing what they wanted to do for their wedding. It was like a fairy tale. It was so wonderful.”
Gina Garden said, “It was a unique ceremony, just what they wanted as a couple.”
As for Louie, he skipped the reception at the Kearney Country Club and went home to rest after his big day.
“Louie was a very good boy,” Gina said. “He wasn’t the star of the show, but a leading character. He was the third most important person there.”
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