Sailor & Sweetheart Marry at Airport

Sailor marries

By Debbie Gregory.

Navy Seaman Apprentice Dylan Ruffer couldn’t wait to marry his high school sweetheart. Ruffer, 19, and Madison Meinhardt, also 19, married upon their reunion after Ruffer’s 11 month long deployment. The couple are both from Chester, California. While that isn’t unusual, the wedding itself was a bit unconventional.

The young couple had originally planned to wed in October. But Ruffer’s deployment aboard the USS Gravely (DDG-107) got extended. In talking to his fiancée, after the extension, Ruffer quipped that he would like to marry her the moment he saw her again. Meinhardt thought that her sailor had a good plan, so she contacted the Reno-Tahoe International Airport to inquire if such an arrangement would be possible.

Ruffer arrived at the airport in his dress blue Navy uniform, commonly referred to as “cracker jacks” and made his way to baggage claim. A loudspeaker announced his arrival, “Ladies and gentleman, I present Dylan Ruffer, United States Navy.” Ruffer was welcomed home in one of the most unique ways- a marriage ceremony.

While the ceremony itself was not a surprise for Ruffer or Meinhardt, the elegant decorations and contributions to the ceremony by the airport and local businesses were. The wedding was held under the “Arrivals” sign, and the airport provided an archway of white fabric and flowers for the ceremony. The airport roped off a section in baggage claim for the reception, and wedding guests dined on food donated from the airport catering service. The Peppermill Hotel-Casino offered a spa package so that the bride could prepare for her big day. And the Eldorado Hotel-Casino donated a honeymoon suite and limousine for the couple to use after their ceremony. The DJ and the wedding photographer donated their services, and the flowers were donated by a local businesses.

“We were expecting a little wedding in the corner,” Meinhardt told the reporters from Reno’s KOLO news team. “This is definitely more than we could have ever asked for.”

Last week, reported that a group of Marines received a newsworthy heroes’ welcome home. In this instance, the Reno-Tahoe International airport and the neighboring community really rallied to help make this a fairytale wedding, worthy of national acclaim. Were these two stories unrelated acts of generosity and military-appreciation by these two airports? Or is there some sort of competition between American airports to see who can best display their gratitude for our men and women in uniform? If so, Reno-Tahoe might be a tough one to top.

It is always great to see businesses, organizations and individuals go out of their way to support our Military and their families. Bravo-Zulu to all who helped make Mr. and Mrs. Ruffer’s wedding the best day of their lives. would like to congratulate the couple and wish them a lifetime of happiness.