Crow residents Jim Gedeon and Michelle Middaugh share their wedding day with the community, all while providing plenty of room for physical distancing. The drive-in wedding drew dozens of people. MIKE NORDTVEDT/LIFESLICE PHOTOGRAPHY

CROW — COVID-19 restrictions almost ruined Crow residents Jim Gedeon and Michelle Middaugh’s wedding.  

Almost.

Mustered by determination and with only a week to plan, the couple came up with an alternative idea: to have the ultimate drive-in wedding. The two got married on Saturday inside of a semi truck, at the former school they attended together in the 1970s. 

They were classmates at the rural CroLane Middle School and Crow High School from 1972-78. Gedeon said he had a huge crush on Middaugh back then, but he was so shy he never even spoke to her. Middaugh admits she didn’t even remember Gedeon at the time.

Flash-forward 40-some years to about five years ago — after marriages to other people and children born and raised for each — their paths crossed once again. 

Gedeon made up for lost time after that first date at Sylvan Winery; according to Middaugh, it has been a courtship like no other. Gedeon may have been shy when he was a teenager, but he became very creative in winning the heart of his lady, Middaugh said. 

Gedeon planned surprise dates each week, and the only thing Middaugh was allowed to know about them in advance was whether she needed to dress warm, casual or dressy. They went to plays, Christmas bazaars, day trips to the mountains or the beach, with each date planned especially for her.

Middaugh said her very favorite surprise date was the weekend he told her to dress warm. 

They drove for a few hours and Gedeon pulled onto a pullout on the side of the road. They got out and walked to an observation area and Middaugh suddenly realized she was looking out on Crater Lake.

“I started crying the moment it came into view,” she said. “I had never seen it before. It was absolutely beautiful.” After taking in the scenery, the couple went to see a lodge that had been remodeled in the 1980s.  

“When we stepped into the lodge, I could not believe the size of the amazing fireplace and as I approached it, I heard a woman say, ‘Can I help you?’ followed by Jim’s reply, ‘Yes, we have a reservation,’” Middaugh said. “I can’t tell you how I felt at that moment because it was crazy. I couldn’t talk; I was crying and trying to make words come out. I had none. Whether it was an evening out, a day trip, or a weekend away, every one of the dates have been so special.”

A proposal wasn’t long to follow, and the couple soon began to plan for the wedding. Their respective mothers were “bitin’ at the bit to see us finally quit livin’ in sin,” Middaugh said. They ordered 150 folding chairs, table runners and rhinestones and were well on their way to their ideal wedding. Then COVID-19 happened. 

“Somebody never learned to cover their mouth when they coughed so now we’re all grounded,” Middaugh said, putting a touch of humor on the situation.“ It’s kind of like when my brother, Robert, ate all the maraschino cherries, but we all got in trouble for it.”

It only took a week to organize. Gedeon’s son, Jimmy, a trucker, arranged the use of a big semi with side curtains to serve as the stage to set up decorations, and a microphone to say their wedding vows.

Middaugh’s son-in-law, Aaron, and her daughters, Shauna and Jenny, provided palm trees to use for decorations; David Wooley stepped forward to perform the ceremony; Kay Lee Bevans took photographs; Jim Breitz agreed to be the DJ; Carolyn from the Broadway Grill in Veneta baked a wedding cake; and friend Carolyn Wooley made Middaugh’s dress. 

A worrisome weather forecast loomed on the horizon. “The skies were churning more than my stomach after eating 10 pounds of spaghetti,” Middaugh said. Within minutes of the beginning of the ceremony, however, the wind quieted, the rain stopped and managed to stay clear through the entire ceremony. 

After the ceremony, the newlywed couple wandered through the parking lot while Gedeon’s son sang the same George Strait song, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” that Jim sang to Michelle as they danced in the craft aisle of Walmart on one of their first dates. “I was not crying ... I’m a big burly truck driver in allergy season,” Gedeon said. 

Some things are just meant to be. 

“God bless the broken road that brought us back together,“ Gedeon said.