Love and mud were in the air Saturday afternoon in Putnam County.
St. Johns County resident Kodie Umphenour, 24, and Interlachen native Carina Pasco, 31, were married just after 1 p.m. in the same Hog Waller Mud Bog & ATV mud pit where he proposed to her one year ago.
The county-crossed lovers met on a dating site a little more than a year ago, finding they shared a common passion: mud-bogging.
“He’ll do anything for anybody,” Umphenour’s best man, Stephan Doty, said before the wedding, with the groom’s sister, Autumn Umphenour, with him on a four-wheeler in the ceremony’s precession. “He doesn’t know a stranger.”
To the Umphenours and many among the more than 1,000 onlookers Saturday, the word “redneck” bears neither shame nor negativity.
“I loved it,” said the groom’s cousin, 14-year-old Micaila Smith, of the ceremony. “Our side of the family are all rednecks, so we’re right at home here.”
The new couple sent out invitations asking people to attend “Our Big Ol’ Muddy Redneck Wedding.”
Longtime friend of Kodie Umphenour, Gerald Drozdowski Jr. smiled as the groom scooped up his new bride for family photos.
“That’s a good kid right there,” Drozdowski said of Kodie. “He’s as redneck as they come, and he is a work horse. If it were my daughter he married, I’d be proud.”
Wedding guests and independent mud-boggers alike laughed and threw globs of wet dirt at one another before the nuptials. But the start of the wedding brought a near hush over the large crowd, some members of which folded their hands and smiled while watching the event.
As requested by a pre-wedding broadcast over the park’s loudspeaker, not one engine was revved during the ceremony.
But as applause broke and the bride descended a metal ladder in her camouflage print wedding gown, a symphony of motors cheered the union.
In a trailer about 40 yards away from the pit in which her son married minutes before, Lisa Umphenour showed off a pastoral-themed, triple-tiered wedding cake and two drinking glasses her new daughter-in-law designed.
She said the couple is far along the learning curve of parenthood.
“She has four kids and he has two, so we’re calling them the Brady Bunch,” Lisa Umphenour said.
The bride’s friend of 10 years and official wedding photographer, Candace Weaver, said Carina made a good choice marrying Kodie.
“I’ve seen a few of the guys she’s dated … much better,” she said of the groom. “They go so well together, and they both love it out here. I call them to come out to the beach. And they can’t because they’re always here; you can see they love each other.”
Drozdowski said he did his part in steering his friend toward a relationship with his new bride.
“Some of the girls he was with I told him to turn around and run,” he said. “And he turned around and ran, and now he found a good one.”
The bride’s sister and newly ordained minister Angie Pasco officiated the ceremony, asking Kodie and Carina to promise they would remain true to one another “through blown head gaskets, worn-out gears and through big mud holes.”
None of the vows worried the groom, who works with Carina for his parents Lisa Umphenour and Gene Riley at Specialty Auto Parts, the family’s salvage yard in St. Johns County.
One of Kodie Umphenour’s first tasks after Saturday’s Hog Waller reception — and a hopefully restful Sunday — is fixing his mother’s purple pickup truck, which got buried deep in the muck after the wedding when a part broke.
It was yanked out by a monster truck on scene.
“I’ve got to get back to work Monday,” he said. “This is our honeymoon.”
On the mud-caked, knocking and rattling truck carrying the family from the pit to the reception tent above, Austin Downing, 13, embraced the groom’s son, 6-year-old Kodie Umphenour Jr., who held his ears from the sound of revving engines.
Micaila, her arm around a younger cousin, diagnosed the truck’s problem as a broken axle. Outside the tent, the groom agreed, adding that depending on the angle of impact, the truck’s transmission and drive shaft might also need fixing.
“I go to work and work on cars, and I go home and do the same thing,” the groom said. “[Carina] gets mad at me sometimes, but this is what we enjoy. I’ve got seven four-wheelers and four mud trucks at home.”
Joe Pasco said that as a child, his daughter hated to get dirty.
“I asked her about it as we rode up,’ he said of the trip to the altar atop the monster truck. “I said ‘How did you go from that to getting married in a mud pit?’ She said, ‘Oh, Dad, I outgrew that.’”
Riley said his son chose a bride who is a perfect fit for the family.
“He couldn’t have picked a better girl,” Riley said. “And I’m proud they actually got married out there. A lot of people talk about doing it, but they did it.”