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876 feet in the air: Officiating an adventure wedding on the New River Gorge Bridge

Published Saturday, Jan. 30th, 2021

Watching the newlyweds rappel off the bridge into open air, speeding downward toward the whitewater river below, the phrase ‘leap of faith’ took on new meaning. AMM Minister Mathew Anderson’s officiant career had just hit a new high -- performing a one-of-a-kind ceremony on the New River Gorge Bridge. 



Officiant Mathew Anderson performs wedding ceremony on New River Bridge


Photographs courtesy of Deb Parker (of Mamaw's House, near Minden, WV)


Mathew led the ceremony at a staggering 876 feet in the air, tethered by a single rope to the 3,000 foot wide steel arch bridge that sprawls across the deep canyon formed by the New River. It’s one of the most photographed and beloved areas of the country, and for good reason! Just outside of Fayette, West Virginia, the area is truly breathtaking. 


Mathew knew from the moment the couple asked him to officiate that he would say yes. 


Still, when they asked if he wanted to rappel down with them, he declined. Standing on the catwalk of the bridge was plenty thrilling for Mathew -- along with the knowledge that this daredevil ceremony was only the start of new adventures for the happy couple! 



Adventure wedding New River Gorge Bridge WV



If you’re an officiant eager for the chance to add an adventure ceremony like this one to your portfolio, start by saying yes to new things and interesting opportunities. Get outside your comfort zone, be willing to travel outside your region, and incorporate your unique hobbies and passions into your service offerings. 


If you have a passion for something others find interesting, too - Disney movies or the Star Wars universe, rock climbing, vintage fashion, or even train travel - you can incorporate these themes into ceremony packages or custom scripts. You may have to travel to where the action is, but you’ll find your wedding niche! 


Read Up, Up, and Away! How Wedding Officiants With Unique Career Paths Create Unique Wedding Ceremonies for more ideas on how to get started.



Elopement on the New River Gorge Bridge Walk National Park West Virginia


Photo credit Deb Parker


Fun facts about this unique ceremony location: 
The New River Gorge Bridge sprawls 876 feet above the New River, the third highest bridge in the country. Below, the river runs for more than 300 miles, a rugged whitewater expanse that races through the Appalachian mountains. It’s said to be the second oldest river in the world, anywhere from 10 t0 36 million years old. 



Bridge Walk New River Gorge Bridge Elope


Photo cropped from original, credit Deb Parker




AMM Minister Mathew Anderson is on a mission to perform marriage in all 50 states. Follow along as he unites couples and celebrates love!




Want to become a wedding officiant in West Virginia?




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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