Not just hot air: Couple to wed in balloon over Sequim
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Crystal Stout
A Marysville couple plans to get married in this hot-air balloon at the Sequim Lavender Fest in July.

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM — Brenda Martz and Mark Fadden will literally be floating on air when they get married July 21 during the Sequim Lavender Festival.

Pending good weather, the Marysville couple will take their vows 50 feet up in the basket of an 85-foot beige-and-green hot-air balloon, with balloonist Crystal Stout officiating over Angel Farm, a lavender-growing spread located at 5883 Old Olympic Highway in Carlsborg, just north of Sequim Valley Airport.

“We're so excited, and he's scared of heights,” Martz, a clinic receptionist, joked about her groom-to-be, who works in information technology.

Joining them in the balloon basket will be her grown son, Trevis Martz, and daughter Paige Fadden, 4. Another 25 relatives and friends will be in attendance on the ground.

“You can't get a better venue than that,” Martz said, adding that she will wear a white dress, while Fadden will don a tuxedo.

During Sequim's popular Lavender Festival weekend, “Captain” Crystal and husband Don, owners of Battle Ground-based Morning Star Hot Air Balloon Co., will help Sequim Balloon Festival Director Randall Tomaras promote the first Sept. 1-3 festival.

“Sharing that love of ballooning with a married couple and their kids is a wonderful experience,” said Crystal Stout, who said she has been a balloonist for 27 years.

She last officiated at a wedding in March in Winthrop, a video of which can be viewed at

Vic and Mandy Johnson also are scheduled to bring to the Lavender Festival their balloon, Wyakis, a 10-person craft they have flown over Mount Rainier, Tomaras said.

He added that as many as 40 balloon rides can be scheduled for the lavender festival by contacting him at 360-461-2202.

Crystal Stout said the wedding, which is scheduled to start at 6:30 a.m. after a half-hour of inflating the balloon in preparation, will include a flight over the Sequim Valley Airport with a banner that says “Just Married” hanging from the balloon's basket, decorated with flowers.

If the weather does not cooperate — last year's lavender festival was doused by a rainstorm — the couple still will be married inside the balloon, partially inflated by the burner and lying on its side, Crystal Stout said.

Tomaras said the balloon festival has about 40 balloons on the waiting list.

“It's important to get the word out for ballooning,” Tomaras said, with only about 25 balloons and balloonist teams in Washington and about 3,000 nationwide.

Tomaras has scheduled entertainment for the three-day balloon festival, including a food court, a beer and wine garden, arts and crafts, and music onstage at the 20-acre field south of East Washington Street near Simdars Road.

Signed up to perform on Sept. 1 are the Half Pack Live, a Frank Sinatra-style crooner group; a street dance with The Hit Men's rock 'n' roll Sept. 2; and several other bands that will play throughout the event. For more information, visit


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2390 or at

Last modified: May 29. 2012 5:56PM
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