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Grand Forks newlyweds horse around on their way to the wedding reception

Recently married couples usually try to find a way of getting from the wedding to the reception hall in style, but one Grand Forks couple's unique method of transportation managed to turn some heads along the way.

Draft horse team
Children stare as a team of North American spotted draft horses trots down Sixth Street carrying newlyweds Annie Spicer and Josh Schmaltz on Saturday afternoon. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

Recently married couples usually try to find a way of getting from the wedding to the reception hall in style, but one Grand Forks couple's unique method of transportation managed to turn some heads along the way.

Josh Schmaltz and Annie Spicer tied the knot Saturday afternoon at St. Michael's Catholic Church in downtown Grand Forks. Thanks to the occupation of Josh's dad, the two were treated to a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride to get about half a mile south to the Masonic Center on Bruce Avenue.

Josh joked that their transportation by horse was "the only way I could get my dad to come." Josh's dad, Jim Schmaltz, co-owns the six North American spotted draft horses along with Scott Bryant.

To say that the animals were huge is an understatement -- two of them each weigh a ton, and another two weigh about 1,800 pounds apiece. But Josh pointed out that these horses are actually medium-sized for the breed.

Downtown trip

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Annie said it was fun to watch the reactions of passing cars, bicyclists and pedestrians as the carriage made its way down Fifth Street. "I thought it was kind of cool," she said. "Cars stopped, they couldn't even believe it."

Maybe it was the head-turning white carriage with plush upholstery seats and a convertible canopy, complete with a "Just Hitched" sign on the back. The two horses in front were also eye-catching, all cleaned up and decorated with a series of black leather and silver-studded reins and harnesses and a little red bowtie on their tails.

Plus, downtown visitors probably aren't used to seeing horses backing up traffic or waiting at a DeMers Avenue stoplight on a regular basis.

The rest of the wedding party was able to enjoy the mode of travel, as well -- a red wooden wagon pulled by four horses brought the groomsmen and bridesmaids to the Masonic Center. Everyone got out of the carriage and wagon, only to take a party bus for some photos around town.

When asked which ride she enjoyed the most, the carriage through downtown or the roomier party bus, Annie didn't hesitate before giving her answer. "The carriage, definitely," she said.

Josh said he liked taking a very irregular form of travel through the downtown streets. He graduated from Central High School and said he never thought he would one day have a downtown wedding and carriage ride so close to his alma mater.

"It was pretty neat," he said.

A bridesmaid offered her take on the horse-drawn trip through a city's downtown district, saying "only in North Dakota."

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Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

Spicer Schmaltz wedding
Annie Spicer smiles at Josh Schmaltz as they climb into a horse-drawn carriage after getting married Saturday afternoon at St. Michael's Catholic Church. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

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