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May 2007

Rail News: People

A wedding on a TRE train was the perfect way for a Fort Worth couple to cap off a whirlwind courtship

Rhonda and Jason Cancino wanted a non-traditional wedding — perhaps a small, backyard ceremony in summer. But “non-traditional” took on a new meaning when the couple got married this past Valentine’s Day on a Trinity Railway Express (TRE) train.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), which jointly operate TRE, planned the wedding on a train to promote the commuter-rail service that runs between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Dallas radio station KLUV (that’s “K-Love”) held a contest to find the lucky couple.

The station announced the “LUV Train” contest in January, asking couples to submit essays on why they might want to get married on a TRE train. Rhonda came across the contest information while surfing the Internet for something “fun and different” to do on Valentine’s Day.

Exchanging vows on a train fit certainly fit the bill, so Rhonda submitted an essay chronicling her fairy-tale romance with Jason. The couple met four years ago while working at Pier 1 Imports’ corporate office in downtown Fort Worth; they began dating in October 2006 and got engaged on Christmas Eve. A Valentine’s Day wedding would be the perfect way to cap off their whirlwind courtship, she wrote.

So in luv
KLUV thought so, too, and chose Rhonda, 36, and Jason, 32, as one of five LUV Train finalists. Each finalist was asked to answer a few questions — i.e., “What was the most romantic thing your significant other has done for you?” (Rhonda said it was when Jason asked her father and brother for permission to marry her; Jason cited the “everyday stuff” Rhonda does for him) and “Who’s the better cook?” (Rhonda said Jason, who joked that he makes a “killer” grilled cheese).

Based on their answers, station listeners voted for Jason and Rhonda on Feb. 9, leaving them less than a week to prepare. Luckily, Rhonda’s best friend lent her a wedding gown that “fit perfectly.” Another friend who happened to be a florist provided the flowers. “It was meant to be,” says Rhonda. “Everything just kind of fell into place.”

And what didn’t worked out in the end. The couple couldn’t find a wedding photographer, but the media and guests in attendance filled the role just fine. “We needed to just enjoy what was happening,” Jason says.

That included the hectic days before the wedding. With last-minute preparations such as writing vows and making sure their children (Rhonda has three and Jason, two, from previous marriages) had appropriate wedding attire, the couple pulled an all-nighter on Feb. 13. They had to leave their Fort Worth home well before 6 a.m. and fight rush-hour traffic (enter TRE plug here) to get to Dallas Union Station by 6:30 a.m.

It’s all about the details
The Wednesday morning nuptials took place on a rail car festooned with balloons, flowers and wedding bells. The bride wore a long-sleeved, off-the-shoulder satin wedding gown adorned with bows and lace; the groom wore a black suit and red tie. With 25 guests, the media, and DART, TRE and KLUV staff onboard, the train trekked to Fort Worth as part of a regularly scheduled 7:39 a.m. train.

Rhonda and Jason took their vows with a cell phone inches from their faces so KLUV could record them and broadcast it on air a few minutes later. A train whistle drowned out a good portion of Jason’s vows, and Rhonda struggled to keep her feet while the rocking train stopped every few minutes. But they didn’t let the distractions affect them.

“I tuned everything out and the only thing I saw or heard during the ceremony was Rhonda,” says Jason.

A minister who’s also a part-time actor had the couple married by 8:09 a.m., when the train stopped at CentrePort Station.

“We were on a schedule,” says DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. “It is a railroad, after all.”
Rhonda, Jason and their guests completed the ride to TRE’s Texas & Pacific Station, where The T threw a reception in a recently restored main waiting room. About 50 family and friends attended the reception, which included a guitarist, three-tiered wedding cake with blue and white flowers, and a breakfast buffet featuring muffins, pigs in a blanket, quiche and fruit.

To cap it off, Rhonda and Jason rode the train back to Dallas, where they enjoyed a free night in the honeymoon suite at the Hyatt Regency and dinner atop Reunion Tower.

Sounds like the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary. Or, the Cancinos could just take a ride on the 7:39 a.m. train to Fort Worth.

— Angela Cotey


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