MASSENA Donald J. Lucas is attempting to coin a phrase for his new business venture: water weddings and outdoor unions both have come to mind.
Mr. Lucas operates Muskie Magic Charters Inc. on the St. Lawrence River, and has been looking to supplement his fishing tours. He is about to take the plunge into river marriages: the Town Council last week issued him a license to perform weddings.
Lovebirds flock to Las Vegas to be wed in a chapel by a man resembling Elvis Presley, Mr. Lucas said. Likewise, the allure of marriage on the St. Lawrence might attract couples to Massena.
The sounds of loons overhead, a warm summer breeze and rippling waves could create a wedding experience like no other, he said.
I want people to say, Theres no place else in the world where I can experience a feeling like that, he said. We want people to take it back to their families and friends and say this was the best experience.
Mr. Lucas, 58, never pictured himself as a marriage officer. Its fishing thats in his blood; he had enjoyed afternoons on the river since he was a child, and began charters 24 years ago.
My greatest thrill is to take someone out and have someone experience what Ive gotten so much enjoyment out of, Mr. Lucas said. When you do a charter, you try to be an entertainer. You try to make sure the jokes are flowing and people are laughing and having a good time.
Fishing charters havent reeled in as much business in recent years because of the economy. But Mr. Lucas said he has received calls to perform weddings from people who had seen marriages at sea in the movies and on television. Still, real life is different from Hollywood, and a ship captain needs a license to marry people.
Mr. Lucas approached the Town Council for a marriage officer license last month. Town officials, to ensure that a river wedding is actually in Massena, identified the town borders in the St. Lawrence for Mr. Lucas to follow.
Have at it, Don, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said after the council approved the license Wednesday. Marry everybody.
River wedding ceremonies could be a tourist draw, Mr. Lucas said. He has discussed marketing with Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce Director Michael J. Gleason, and partnering with area businesses to create wedding packages.
The possibilities ... would be everything from going camping to a large reception at the Quality Inn, he said.
Muskie Magic has two vessels, the larger of which seats 10. Mr. Lucas said he would consider purchasing a larger boat, and hiring additional staff, if the business takes off.
Mr. Lucas is picturing several different setups for a river wedding. The bride could be waiting in the cabin, then proceed up onto the deck to meet the bridegroom at the beginning of the ceremony. The wedding could be in the middle of the river, or by the boat launches near the Massena Intake. That way, loved ones still could witness the wedding on the shore, or on nearby boats, since his vessel couldnt fit everyone.
Dress attire for a ceremony could range from tuxedos to Bermuda shorts and bikinis; whatever floats the couples boat, Mr. Lucas said.
Mr. Lucass business could tie in to a greater effort to capitalize on Massenas natural resources, he said.
This was an industrial town, he said. I feel we need to reinvent Massena. We need to capitalize on what we have. The St. Lawrence River is an untapped resource. The possibilities for turning this into a tourist destination, I believe, are endless.