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Our Underwater Wedding In SeaWorld's Main Aquarium

Mark and Mary Takes The Plunge

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This is an article in People's Magazine, on the left is my brother Fred Zacharias, then the groom Mark Macurda, myself Mary Zacharias, and on the right is my sister Karen Zacharias Mason.

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Above photo is when we first came down from the top of the tank down to the sand. .You can see the sting ray coming up and  knocking my face mask off by rubbing his belly on it. My sister on the right is coming down to get settled next to me. The big fish is a Nassau grouper. 

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Above, my sister is down now and we are just about to starting to hear our vows through the speaker when Fred, the sea turtle seemed to have been curious and went over to the speaker. He tried eat it and when he could not he turned toward me. He swam over and tried eating the bottom of my wedding dress. 
   You can see how he has grabbed my dress  and is pulling it. Mark knocked him on his head a few times, and I kicked him to make him let go which he did. He swam away and left us alone. When I got out of the tank, I saw he had ripped about a foot of my dress. The turtle experience was funny, exciting, and little scary. I was lucky he did not bit my leg.

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Above photo is when we had started the ceremony as a nurse shark swims by with the Sea Turtle still at my feet.

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Here we are exchanging our wedding rings. Karen handed my ring to me and my brother who name was also Fred, handed Mark his to give to me. I thanked God they did not get dropped. Mark and I would have been digging in the sand.

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This is our kiss. We both took off our mouthpiece regulators and kissed a very bubbly kiss. You can see my flowered plastic cap was starting to come off my head.

​Our Underwater Wedding was in the main large 600,000 gallon Aquarium at SeaWorld Orlando in 1976. The aquarium was full of colorful coral and sea life. It was spectacular, all the colors, many types of different fish, a nurse and lemon shark, and Fred the 85 pound sea turtle.

  I was 18 and Mark was 19 years old. We had been scuba diving for a couple years and I absolutely loved being 30 to 40 feet under the surface. I loved swimming, being weightless, breathing normally, touching the sea creatures, and feeling the velvety slimy coral. The beauty under the sea was even more beautiful than on the surface of Earth.

  One day we went to visit the park and to my wonder was a young lady at the bottom of the tank wearing a bathing suit and she had a clear helmet covering her whole face. She was talking about the sea life into a speaker which we could hear but her face was completely dry. She breathed through a hose that was attached to an air compressor above called a hookah diving rig. She was also wearing a weight belt and fins.

  All the sudden I had an epiphany!!!!!!!!!! I thought WOW! what a neat way to get married. Mark also thought so when I talked to him about it. So I called Sea World and they agreed saying, “It would be great advertising for them”. I had to break the news to my parents, family, and friends. They thought of course I was nuts, but I did not care. My sister and brother were also certified PATI divers, I knew they would be in my wedding in the tank by our sides. I was so excited and had so much planning to do. It was set for May 15, 1976.

  I had to have our dresses made so I went to my girlfriend’s mother who knew how to sew. She took two plastic lace tablecloths. One white for the bride’s dress and one yellow for my sister who was maid of honor. She sewed us a beautiful two-piece dress. My sister and I had on plastic high heel shoes and we each wore plastic flowers for a head dress. We both held plastic flower bouquets in our hands during the ceremony. Everything had to be tested by Sea Worlds lab to make sure nothing was toxic to the fish. Mark and my brother wore tuxedo tee shirts. We bought our rings for best man and maid of honor to hand to us at the appropriate time. I was a little afraid if one were dropped, we would be searching for it among the sand, but that part went smoothly.

  The night before the wedding Mark, the wedding party which included my 6 bridesmaids, family and I were all at a hotel in Orlando. That morning was the trial run. It was a disaster, we walked down the stairs into the tank with our 16pound weight belt on. Then we were lowered into the very cold water which I was not expecting it to be that cold. My sister and I both had our breathing regulators in our mouths. There was a hose connected from our regulators to the top an air compressor. She starts to go down to the bottom with me following. We were supposed to stand by the large anchor. At the same time across the tank were the guys. They were floating down to the bottom of the tank as well.

  Things went wrong. Our tops and skirts floated up over our heads. The fishing weights we had sowed on our dresses were not heavy enough. The speaker that was about 10 feet away was working but we could not hear the vows. My brother, as I look over to him, was halfway down but the large turtle also named Fred had grabbed his black foot bootie. My brother was thrashing his foot around until the turtle let go which took a couple minutes. 

  Sea World assured us that all would be fixed and will be fine. They would make the speaker louder so we could hear our vows spoken from outside the tank by the notary who was a friend of the family. 

  My mom had to pay $500.00 so they could take the dangerous 7ft lemon shark out of the tank and place it in a holding tank.
   The next day, of the wedding was hectic We all knew that things could still go wrong especially with the turtle waiting for us so he could rick havoc which he did. The 200 guests were all seated outside the tank, the radio, newspapers, and magazine people were also there. 

   The wedding music starts, my dad is walking me down the aisle to the door that goes into the tank area. Then my sister, my brother, Mark and I go upstairs to get ready to make the plunge.

   Mark and Fred goes down the ladder first and floats to the bottom to wait by the anchor for my sister and myself. I float down and stand next to Mark and the anchor to wait for my Karen.

   The words coming through the speaker worked just fine and when he gets to the part that says do you take this woman to be your lawful wife? Mark takes the white message board they gave us. It was about 8”by 8” and an underwater magic maker was attached to it so it would not float away. He writes “I DO” and then shows it to the guests. Then I hear him say do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband? I take my board and write “ I DO” but the O is a heart shaped and when I turned it around to show everyone I could hear them all go AAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWEEEEEE. I’ll never forget that sound. Then he said to exchange rings. Which we did with no problem. Then he said you may kiss the bride. We both took off our regulators, held our breath and kissed with bubbles blowing out of our mouths.


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It was a fantastic experience, and we loved every minute of it. It got a lot of publicity. It was on the Orlando news two nights in a row. It was many newspapers around the country, on two television shows, People’s magazine, News week, National Enquirer, and my favorite in Jacque Cousteau’s article. How exciting for me for my hero “Jacque Cousteau” to know of my wedding

OHHHHHHHHHH YEY, ITS over!!!!!! It was worth it. It’s time for the reception at the Polynesian village. Mark and everyone went to get drunk and dance while I dried my dress off and blew dried my hair, flowers, and shoes. I did need to put my makeup back on since I did not get to wear a helmet but a mask. When I was finished SeaWorld came and took me to a room that had a large microphone. They had already had a couple radio stations in other states waiting to ask me questions on how it went. I answered their questions and then they took me to Shamu the killer whale show.

    I had asked for a wedding present to be a kiss from Shamu and they arranged it. There was a large audience of people watching Shamu perform, it was a pirate theme. The pirate takes me out onto the gang plank and tells me to lean over and he will signal Shamu to come up and kiss my cheek. It was awesome to see this giant whale coming up at me out of the water so his tongue could kiss me. After it was over the pirate says so how would you rate that from one to ten? I said the number one, thinking it was the best rating. I was wrong it was the worst. He says OH you didn’t like it? then I’ll give another kiss. So here comes Shamu again and this time I kissed him on his tongue. SeaWorld had taken photos and video of the whole wedding and Shamu’s kiss.


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