PRINCETON — The Good Lord shined upon Amanda and Richard Noaeill on Saturday, June 30.
That’s how Amanda’s grandfather Wayne Senne sees it.
Senne was in Princeton’s Riverside Park that Saturday afternoon when a young man with a metal detector found more than a treasure — he found symbols of commitment crafted from gold and diamonds that someday could be family heirlooms.
Senne, himself, had a metal detector in hand. He had borrowed it from his friend Roger Bonkowske after being summoned to the park by a telephone call from his granddaughter just hours before she and Noaeill were to tie the knot.
“Grandpa, do you have a metal detector?” a frantic Amanda said from the other end of the phone. Brides want a lot of things on their wedding days. A metal detector isn’t one of them, so Senne took the bait.
“My word, how could this happen?” Amanda’s grandmother Barb said after learning the story behind her granddaughter’s request.
The wedding party was in Riverside Park for wedding pictures. The wedding photographer had asked the men in the wedding party to fling their tuxedo jackets over their shoulders for a casual photo shot.
When the best man went to fling his jacket, the wedding rings in his pocket went flinging, too.
The best man later walked up to the groom, Richard Noaeill, and said, “We have a little situation,” according to the bride’s mother, Pam Zentner.
The bridal party began looking for the rings, but with no luck. But time was ticking off the clock and the wedding party had to head to Immanuel Lutheran Church to get ready for the wedding.
“At the church, my daughter looked a little flush,” Zentner recalled. The little drama might have been starting to get to her. “You better chill,” Zentner recalls telling her daughter.
Amanda tried to calm down and was able to get her makeup redone. With the ceremony growing closer and no rings in hand, people at the church were offering their rings to the couple to use during the ceremony.
Meanwhile, a rather large delegation of people had gathered at the park to aid in searching for the rings.
That’s when Fred Rittenour arrived at the park. Rittenour and his wife Darlene live in their trailer in Riverside Park in the summer, and serve as park superintendents.
“I saw all these people with their heads down. I could tell they were looking for something,” Rittenour said.
His wife was among the people searching.
Some people thought the rings might be down by a sand bank along the Rum River, so Fred and Darlene took a rake and raked around in the sand, hoping they would kick up the rings. Seeing the men with metal detectors on scene, Fred and Darlene decided it was best to get out of their way.
“They searched all along the river and found nothing,” Fred Rittenour said.
Fred says someone then talked to the best man by telephone, who suggested the rings might be between a boat landing in the park and some benches near a picnic shelter.
“It couldn’t have been five minutes later and one of the guys with a metal detector yelled that he had found them,” Rittenour said.
The bride’s grandfather, Wayne Senne, remembers thinking throughout the search that there was no way that the rings would ever be found.
Like Rittenour, Senne said it was just a few minutes after searchers switched search locations that the rings were found.
“All I can say is that miracles still happen,” Senne said.
The rings were rushed up to the church in time for the wedding ceremony.
When the pastor told Amanda and Richard that “with these rings I thee wed,” he was able to do so with the couple’s real wedding rings.
But not before a good bit of drama had been interjected into the wedding day, said mother-of-the-bride Pam Zentner.
Amanda Noaeill’s grandmother Barb Senne says she caught up with the best man later at the church and asked if he had any advice for future best men.
“Put the rings on a chain around your neck and hold on for dear life,” the best man told Barb Senne.