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Long-distance couple exchange vows while riding paddleboards on lake near Kearney

Long-distance couple exchange vows while riding paddleboards on lake near Kearney

This is the adorable moment the father-of-the-bride invited his daughter's stepdad to join them while walking down the aisle. Bride Kelsey Griffith, 27, was accompanied by dad Jerry Ellenburg, 55, but he knew stepdad Andy Wallace, 60, was a big part of her life too, so beckoned him to join.

Sydney Norris and Logan Smolla say they’re adventurous and spontaneous and didn’t want the typical large wedding.

“We planned our wedding in three weeks and had a friend get ordained to marry us,” Sydney said.

And they got married on paddleboards on the lake at Cottonmill Park in Kearney as their guests watched from the shore.


The first time Sydney Norris and Logan Smolla tried this kiss they fell into the water.

Their officiant, Curtis Hinrichs, was on board. In fact, it was his idea.

“He mentioned a paddleboard wedding as a joke,” Sydney said. “Then after an hour, we had it all planned and an inflatable paddleboard ordered on Amazon.”

It led to the funniest moment of the weekend.

“We were practicing being on the water on the paddleboards in an old bridesmaid dress and the guys in pants, and we fell in when we went for a kiss,” Sydney said.


Sydney Norris purchased two gowns, in case she fell in the water during her wedding to Logan Smolla.

It was smooth sailing the rest of the way.


Logan was working as a pharmacist when a co-worker who was also friends with Sydney suggested they meet. That get-together over sushi went well and they started dating in July 2020. Sydney was working in North Platte and then Sidney and Logan took a job in New Mexico in October and they dated long-distance.


They'd been dating long distance, so they didn't want to wait long for their wedding. 

“Seeing each other once a month, meeting up in southern Colorado and hiking and staying in cute AirBnbs,” Sydney.


Sydney flew down to New Mexico for the weekend and they hiked up Mount Taylor. Logan proposed at the top of the mountain after a three-mile climb. The three miles back down took place in a rainstorm. After doing so much long distance, they didn’t want to wait long and were married six weeks later. There was no significance to the date.


Logan and Sydney said they make everything fun for each other. 

“Just like my wife: 10/10,” Logan said.


They wanted to make it all about the two of them, and say the whole day was perfect. They went to church together, ran some errands and ate lunch together beforehand, so nothing felt rushed. A sweet moment came with their photographer and videographer after the ceremony. The weather was perfect and music was playing.


Sydney Norris and Logan Smolla were married at Cottonmill Park in Kearney as their guests watched from the shore. Curtis Hinrichs was the officiant.

“We were super happy and excited and had time to just hang out before the reception,” they said. “It was also fun when we kissed at the ceremony on the boards and did not fall in the water.”

Despite the short notice, almost all of their 50 guests were on hand.


They didn’t have a bridal party and they kept costs under $5,000. Food and photography were their biggest items.

“Sydney is a photographer and wanted to support another local photographer,” Logan said.


The happy couple enjoy their cake, which was made by friend Calla Job.

Sydney also bought two dresses; a $25 clearance version for the water and a $900 off-the-rack one for the rest of the party. Cottonmill Park was centrally located for their guests and also where they shared their first kiss.


Sydney will be moving to New Mexico soon and they can’t wait to do all the normal married couple things, like going to the grocery store, playing ultimate frisbee and just hanging out. Logan said Sydney is a great person and wonderful to be around.


Another sweet moment, this time on dry land.

“She constantly makes me laugh. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her and see all the fun things we get to do together,” he said.

Sydney said Logan is adventurous, patient and the love of her life.

“Every minute we are together is relaxing and filled with laughter,” she said.

Happiest Days: Area couples share stories about their weddings

Omaha World-Herald: Wedding Essentials

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Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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