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Couple call wing-walking wedding ‘overwhelming’

“Cloud 9” is more than a romantic expression for newlyweds Darren and Katie McWalters — the English lovebirds exchanged vows while strapped to the top of biplanes 1,000 feet above the ground. “It was a little bit bumpy, but it was truly overwhelming,” Darren said.
/ Source: TODAY staff and wire

Flying high on the wings of love is more than a romantic expression for newlyweds Darren and Katie McWalters — the English lovebirds took to the air and and exchanged vows while strapped to the top of biplanes 1,000 feet above the ground.

Katie, 23, headed into the skies Tuesday in a full bridal gown on the top wing of a red-and-white plane operated by Team Guinot, a group of stunt pilots. Her groom, Darren, 24, flew by her side on an identical plane, while the Rev. George Bringham — flying ahead of the couple — married them over an airborne communications system.

Appearing exclusively on TODAY Wednesday via satellite hookup from Gloucestershire, the couple were still beaming as they told Meredith Vieira of their daredevil nuptials. “It was a little bit bumpy, but it was truly overwhelming — just sensory overload and just completely extreme,” Darren said.

The wedding in the wild blue yonder was the brainchild of the Team Guinot wing-walking team, which took out newspaper ads seeking a devil-may-care couple to marry in the air. Katie told Vieira she spotted the ad and “dared Darren to get in touch.” The couple was selected from more than 100 applicants.

Katie and Darren made things legal in a short ceremony at a local register’s office, then headed to Rendcomb Airfield 90 miles west of London, accompanied by 50 family members. The Rev. Bringham had the pair exchange vows on terra firma — right up until the “I do” part. Then the couple strapped in for the ride of their lives.

Flying in a triangle formation — the reverend in the lead plane, Katie and Darren following atop side-by-side aircrafts — the couple shouted words of commitment while wedding guests tuned in via loudspeakers on the ground.

With Katie’s dress fluttering wildly in the wind, Bringham yelled over the din of the aircraft: “I ask you therefore, will you love her, honor and keep her and be faithful to her so long as you both shall live?”

“I will!” the couple bellowed back.

Katie was impressed with the relative calm of her new husband while flying high above the English countryside in a tuxedo. Darren who has battled a fear of heights in the past, was “more nervous about his speech than his flying,” Katie told Vieira.

And the good reverend was more than up to the task as well, even though he’s 67. “He’s an aviation fanatic,” Katie said of the Rev. Bringham. “So he was really enthusiastic.”

Image: Couple who wed while strapped to airplanes
Vicar George Brigham, centre, poses with Darren McWalters, left, and Katie Hodgson, after conducting their wedding, as they flew over the English countryside near Rendcomb airfield, England, Tuesday Aug. 5, 2008. The wedding service for McWalters, 24, and Hodgson, 23, was conducted over an airborne communications system, with the ceremony played through loud speakers to the congregation waiting on the ground below.(AP Photo/ Barry Batchelor-pa) **UNITED KINGDOM OUT: NO SALES: NO ARCHIVE:**Barry Batchelor / PA

While the couple’s high-altitude memories will last a lifetime, they say it’s only par for the course for their life together. Darren admitted that they “are a bit crazy, so we wanted something that suited.” Having asked for Katie’s hand while they were hiking through the Brazilian rainforest in June, Darren said he wanted to come up with “a wedding blessing that would top my proposal.”

Still, the McWalters’ exotic honeymoon plans may be a bit anticlimactic compared to their thrill-filled I do’s: The pair will head to Tanzania for a safari. Katie said the honeymoon will include “maybe a balloon ride over the Serengeti, but nothing too extreme.”

But Darren held out the possibility that the marriage in the air was so enthralling there might be an encore. “Maybe our anniversary?” he asked his beaming bride.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.