The bride and groom, giddy and rather soaked, bumped along Main Street vowing their eternal love on a float smelling faintly of lilies and diesel fuel.
The groom, in a grey tux and vest, looked both elated and afraid; the bride, in a strapless white gown, was smiling and calm.
Travis Wise and Lacy Proctor became Travis and Lacy Wise during Lexington's rain-drenched Fourth of July parade. The couple from Wilmore won a contest put together by The Grand Reserve, a new events venue in the Lexington Distillery District. The Facebook-based contest — Red, White and I Do — asked couples to say why they deserved to win the wedding of their dreams.
"I thought it was one of those advertisements that was too good to be true," Travis said.
Still, Lacy entered on a whim. That's kind of how she is, Travis said — if Lacy wants something, she goes after it. Most of the time, she gets what she wants, he said. Including Travis.
The two had gone to rival high schools, East Jessamine and West Jessamine, but they hung out with overlapping crowds. She had a crush. He was acutely aware that she was four years younger.
So they were friends who drifted apart and came back together in the winter of 2012. By the fall — now 25 and 21 — they were engaged.
Travis had Lacy's toddler daughter, Abi, give her mom the ring. He'd taught her to say "Mommy marry Travis?"
She, of course, said yes.
They began to plan their wedding, stashing away a few dollars when they could. She works in a bridal shop, and he is a Dairy Queen manager, and they were planning for a pretty simple affair.
Then Abi, now 3, was diagnosed with leukemia.
Sometimes treatments were once a week, sometimes four. Any money that might have gone for a wedding was going toward doctors' bills. They also expanded their family, adding McKinlee, who is now six months old.
"It just seemed like it was one thing after another," Lacy said.
Then she saw the contest.
So did lots of other people. In fact, there were 50 entries in just 10 days.
"We were expecting maybe two or three," said Kelly Bakehorn, who runs the Grand Reserve with her partner Jill Bakehorn. Each story tugged at her heart in some way. She even envisioned, albeit briefly, having a mass wedding including everyone who entered.
However, she kept coming back to the story of Travis and Lacy. Kelly Bakehorn, a mother of triplets, had herself lost a child and could imagine the fear they lived with as Abi got treatment. So Travis and Lacy won.
What became a $25,000 prize package had originally been catering and the venue at the Grand Reserve. Kelly Bakehorn said Lexington's bridal industrial complex kept donating and sweetening the pot. In the end, there was a limo, a wedding, a groom's cake, a photographer, a videographer, a massage, hair and makeup, and a suite at the Crown Plaza Hotel for the honeymoon night. ("The room — ri-dicu-lous!" Travis said.)
Still, there was the centerpiece of the deal: Lacy and Travis had to get married on a float, during a parade, with hundreds of people watching.
That thought brought Travis dread and Lacy joy. He was worried about being in front of all those people. She was game for the experience.
"You want your wedding day to be memorable," she said the night before. "It will certainly be memorable."
As the float rolled down Main Street on Thursday, some people asked their buddies, "Is it real?" Others yelled "Congratulations." A few hollered — as Kelly Bakehorn had predicted — "Don't do it!" The storm necessitated the last-minute addition of white umbrellas which, as it turned out, were meant for sun protection, not so much for rain. Every few minutes Kelly Bakehorn poked at the thin plastic tarp over the white bridal arch to redistribute the water so the whole thing wouldn't burst.
"A good wedding planner takes care of the details," Minister Pat Ham said as Bakehorn averted another potential disaster.
The vows were brief and sweet. She promised to love him more every day. He returned the sentiment as Bakehorn reminded him to smile.
The "whoop, whoop" of police sirens from motorcycle cops in the parade nearly drowned out the couple's tender words. The parade announcer proclaimed "Congratulations!" through the P.A. system a few seconds before Travis was actually finished expressing his devotion.
Still, those gathered on the street clapped and whistled as Ham said, "You may kiss the bride."
Then Mr. and Mrs. Wise held hands, waved to the crowd and wobbled a little as the float rolled on.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.