A couple from Winterset had planned to get married at the Madison County Courthouse yesterday, but the groom was called to active duty last week. They’ll marry today near the flooding Iowa River.

Twenty-eight-year-old Curtis White, a specialist with the Iowa National Guard, has been providing security and transporting drinking water for the town of Columbus Junction. Now, the folks in Columbus Junction want to return the favor and they’ve rounded up flowers, a cake and even a singer for White’s wedding today.

White will be wearing fatigues. His bride, 29-year-old Daniele Ritter, will be wearing a t-shirt and jeans as they stand on a viaduct in Columbus Junction with the Iowa River as a backdrop. A National Guard chaplain will marry them.

“Pretty overwhelming. Everybody in town is excited, it seems like, so that’s a good thing,” Ritter says. “…The town has done absolutely everything. They’ve just said, ‘Get here.’ It’s really incredible. They’ve done t-shirts and bulletins and absolutely everything you could possibly thing of.”

The soldier who’s the groom agrees on the incredible part. “I think this is a little bit much,” White says. “It got blown up a little bit more than I had planned.”

White says when he got called up for flood duty, he wasn’t really concerned about his wedding, since it was to be a low-key courthouse ceremony. “To tell you the truth, I guess I wasn’t really thinking much about this, but just that we need to go and do what we could for all these people that were in the flood and everything,” White says. “We didn’t have any real elaborate plans and I just thought, well, that could be put this off and this town said, ‘Oh, no. You’re not putting anything off because of us.'”

The bride says she and her groom have no immediate plans for a honeymoon. “I think we’re going to cross that bridge when he gets his orders and gets to come home sometime,” the bride says.

Until he’s released from duty, the groom will be in Columbus Junction, where he says the citizens are trying to recover. “The water’s gone down a lot and the people have high spirits. I mean, they’re ready to get on with things,” White says. “The downtown is just annihilated.”

White’s wedding is scheduled for two o’clock this afternoon in Columbus Junction.

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