The bride, “Extra,” wore a short taffeta mocha dress and sparkly high heels. The groom, “Molder,” wore a grey suit with a blue Oxford and a yellow striped tie. The Reverend wore a fringed black leather jacket, black denim jeans, and a homemade black shoelace belt. In his left pocket sat a clergy card that read: “This is to certify that the bearer hereof is ordained by the Universal Life Church. Robert Raven Kraft, Ordained: October 6, 2009.”
That’s right. In addition to being a songwriter, streak runner, and South Beach institution, Raven is a card-carrying ordained minister. He removed the card from his pocket and passed it to me. “White Lightning, I’ve showed you this before, haven’t I?” I nodded. “Yeah, Creve took care of everything for me online when he asked me to marry him and Hollywood Flasher.” Today was actually the second wedding that Raven would officiate.
On December 5th, 2009 at 4pm, guests gathered at the Fifth Street Lifeguard Stand to witness a Raven Run first—a wedding ceremony on the run. Four female runners held Raven’s cue cards, and the groom passed out bowties to his male attendants. “I actually married Creve and Flasher twice that day,” recalled Raven. “I did one ceremony in the morning at the pier—you know, in case some of their guests couldn’t run the whole eight miles.”
Today was a single ceremony—stationary—by the rocks on the beach at South Pointe. “Hey White Lightning,” said Extra as she stepped out of a picture. “Thanks so much for coming today.”
“Oh my gosh, congratulations! Thanks so much for inviting me,” I said, immediately realizing that I hadn’t been invited. (Well, Raven told me to come.) “You look gorgeous,” I continued, “And happy belated birthday, too.” Her birthday was yesterday, and the groom’s is tomorrow, making for a memorable wedding anniversary.
“I even wore my boots,” said Raven, clicking his heels against the pavement.
“I saw that,” I said. “You clean up well.”
“And I love the fray,” said Extra, pointing to his shoulder. Raven smiled and raised his arms so the leather tassels jiggled in the wind. Shoe Guy snapped pictures as we waited for Mary Beth. “Shoe Guy, I made an extra boutonniere—can I pin it on you?” asked Extra.
He looked down at his gray hoodie, navy sweatpants, and sneakers. “Uh,” he said, as she reached for his chest, “I was just planning to take a few pictures for Facebook, but, sure, I’ll stay.” This was a new South Beach wedding dress code—workout casual.
On a run a few weeks before, Extra had excitedly mentioned to Raven that she just got her marriage papers in the mail. “You know I can marry you,” Raven had told Extra. The couple had been thinking about the right officiant for the occasion.
“We wanted an intimate ceremony and someone who knew us, not just a stranger with authority,” explained Extra. “We thought Raven would be perfect. He’s someone we know and love and trust.”
“He’s a friend,” added Molder. “We wanted a friend to marry us.”
Raven was reviewing his lines and looked up. “You know I take this real serious,” he said.
“I know you do,” I said. “Are you nervous?”
“Yeah, a little. I’ve been practicing a lot though. I’ll probably stumble over something, but we’ll get through it. Oh, there’s Yellow Rose!”
Mary Beth strolled up with her video camera and hugged Extra. “You look beautiful,” said Mary Beth. “And this day is perfect.”
“I’m so glad you all could come,” said Extra. “Shall we get started?”
We walked down to the shore as passersby shouted their congratulations. The very sweet ceremony lasted five minutes. At the end, Raven turned away from the couple and looked at us. Then he remembered the closing line. “And now, you may kiss the bride.” The blissful newlyweds hadn’t waited for his permission and were already locked at the lips.
After posing for pictures, Molder got out the marriage certificate. Raven signed it first, then passed it to their friend, a photographer and the designated witness. Raven admired her rings. “White Lightning, did you see her rings? Check out that skull. That’s my style.”
There was talk of throwing the bouquet, but perhaps the panicked expressions that spread across our faces deterred the bride. Removing a yellow rose from her bouquet, Extra gave it to Mary Beth. “You should have this, Yellow Rose.” Then she gave me a pink carnation. We were all going home with party favors.
“Do you have any advice for the newlyweds?” I asked Raven.
“Compromise,” he answered without hesitation. “And the woman is always right. But I hear that Extra already gave up her cat for Molder, so that’s a real good sign that they can compromise.” After hugging everyone goodbye, the couple scooted off for a celebratory coffee and massage. The honeymoon is scheduled for March during spring break. (Both of them are artists; the bride is a painter, and the groom teaches sculpture at FIU.)
Raven looked at Mary Beth. “You know, Yellow Rose, when you find your lucky man and you’re ready, I can marry you. There’s not a reason why not.”
She laughed. “Except, maybe, if I got a priest.”
“Oh yeah,” said Raven. “Maybe your parents would want you to have a priest. That’s all right.” He unlocked his bike, and we walked towards his apartment on Third and Ocean. “I’m going home to read over my notes for tomorrow’s memorial service. I just finished the eulogy last night.”
Tomorrow, at 4pm, in front of the Fifth Street Lifeguard Stand, Raven Runners will gather to remember “Tonka,” who recently passed away. He was 47-years-old. From Minnetonka, Minnesota, Tonka got his name because he was “tough like a Tonka Truck,” according to Raven, “but he had a very kind heart. We’re going to miss him. I just want everyone to know that I’m here for them if they ever need anything. And if I can’t help them, someone on the run can. It’s like a family—we’re here for each other.”
Raven pointed across the street to his apartment. “Well, this is me. Yellow Rose, White Lightning—it’s always great to see you."
“Same here,” we said. “Have a good run today.” Wheeling his bike into his gate, he turned around one last time to wave. “Bye, Raven,” we said.
(Get excited . . . video is forthcoming.)
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A limited-edition, 12-month swimsuit calendar featuring Mary Beth, Laura Lee, the Raven, and a number of other runners and coaches from our community; A signed, first-edition copy of the book and the documentary; A personal call of thanks from the Raven, and email updates.Estimated delivery:
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Mary Beth or Laura Lee will come and speak to your book club, organization, or gathering of your choice once we release the documentary and the book (must be in a city where the artists reside or via Skype); the Raven Run Swimsuit calendar; the book and the documentary; a personal call of thanks from the Raven, and email updates about the project.Estimated delivery:
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“Small Business Owner Package” - You or your business/firm will be listed in the acknowledgements section of the book and documentary; your printed logo will appear in the “Sponsors” section of the Raven Run Swimsuit Calendar and will be featured on the Raven’s website; You will enjoy positive word-of-mouth from Raven and his running community; You will also receive signed, first-edition copies of the book, the documentary, and the swimsuit calendar.Estimated delivery:
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A limited-edition, coffee table book with photographic still images taken while filming and writing the documentary AND coffee with the Raven and his creative team, Mary Beth and/or Laura Lee (transportation not included and must be in Miami); the swimsuit calendar; a first-edition, signed copy of the book and the documentary and email updates.Estimated delivery:
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“Bigger Business Owner Package” - Everything listed in the “Small Business Owner Package,” PLUS: Raven can host a “Meet and Greet” at your establishment (in Miami) after the book and documentary are released; Your company will be listed as a corporate sponsor in marketing materials for Running With Raven (event invitations, postcards, etc.); Your company will receive recognition through social media outlets with an audience of thousands (Facebook, Twitter, Email updates); If you’re a restaurant, Mary Beth, Laura Lee, and the Raven will eat your food and talk about how awesome it tasted and, if you sell clothes or running shoes, Mary Beth and Laura Lee will look good wearing them, then give all credit to your brand. If you represent something else, feel free to suggest how we can best promote your product.Estimated delivery:
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“The Big Kahuna” – Everything mentioned above, PLUS: * A personalized song with lyrics written by the Raven for you or a loved one * A packaged weekend getaway to Miami to include: * A domestic round-trip plane ticket (please pack light, as we think Spirit only allows carry-ons) * Two nights in at least a three-star South Beach Hotel * A run and swim and sweaty embrace with the Raven (you are guaranteed a spot between the Raven and either Mary Beth or Laura Lee for the run) * A sunset beach dinner picnic, personally prepared by Mary Beth and Laura Lee (we will learn to cook before you arrive); And ladies, don’t think for a second we are leaving you out—the Raven will be there, too (His girlfriend, Miracle, has already approved it.). * This package, as mentioned, is transferrable to children or grandchildren and would make a great holiday present.Estimated delivery:
- (41 days)