BETHEL – When Dave Hart first suggested to fianceé Rockie Graham that their wedding should take place at the town dump, Rockie had problems with that.

But not for long.

“He was so enthusiastic about it,” she said. “I think he just broke down my resistance.”

After all, the couple met at the Bethel transfer station, where Dave is the manager and Rockie now a part-time employee. Dave thought it would be the best place to perform their nuptials.

“I think it’s perfect,” Dave said. “This is where everybody knows us.”

The two met when Rockie, an avid recycler, began using the Bethel transfer station after Newry became part of the dump’s service area. Dave had just begun working there.

“She recycles everything,” he said. “She’d bring in a 3 gallon barrel or paper bag per week, at least.”

Rockie remembers being impressed that Dave, a retired Sears service technician, seemed to be able to fix anything. For their first date, Rockie asked Dave to fix a bum burner on her stove in exchange for a cup of coffee.

That was the day before Thanksgiving in 2001. They’re still together.

Bucket loader escort

In a community that doesn’t offer trash pickup, almost everyone makes a trip to the dump sooner or later. The unusual wedding plans have generated suggestions from friends and transfer station regulars about perfect dump wedding. It’s a local topic of discussion.

“Everybody we tell has put in their two cents’ worth of ideas,” Dave said. “We’re trying to pick through them.”

They have yet to set a date, but that hasn’t stopped the wedding planners.

Rockie’s dress will be conservative, and Dave will wear his Mason’s tuxedo, although they’d like to find a way to incorporate recycled items into their wedding garb.

The current plan also includes being escorted in a bucket loader driven by transfer station attendant Darlene Pilgrim.

“I think it’s cute,” Pilgrim said. “Love is where you find it.”

Dave’s four grown children plus his grandchildren will also participate in the ceremony, but not all have come to terms with the transfer station wedding

“I guess I have traditional ideas when it comes to getting married,” said Dave’s daughter-in-law Rosey with a smile, “but people get married at Wal-Mart, ice cream shops or the movies, so hey …”

Returnable gifts

Other support has come from the community. Bethel attorney Mike O’Donnell offered to perform the ceremony when he heard of the occasion. And others have found a uniquely appropriate way to contribute.

“People have even been giving us returnables for our honeymoon fund,” Dave said.

They plan to fly to California and drive back to Maine for their honeymoon, visiting family and friends along the way in Idaho, New Mexico, Kentucky, Florida and New Jersey.

Besides working each Saturday together at the dump, Rockie and Dave go swimming and dancing together, yet enjoy their own hobbies too. Dave fixes discarded appliances and mines the local mountains for rocks and gemstones. Rockie organizes the Bethel Poets Society, writes a column for The Bethel Citizen and works at the state campground in Cambridge, New Hampshire.

Both Dave and Rockie are divorced. Neither expected to marry again. But both are convinced their love is genuine.

Said Dave, “We just want to live happily ever after and have fun 24-7.”

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