Cindy Shaw, left, and Patrick Smith will tie the knot underwater at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Patrick Smith
Patrick Smith on Saturday will not only get a woman whom he considers a “trophy wife,” but, he said, he’ll also be getting his own mermaid.
Smith, 65, will marry his sweetheart of six years, 57-year-old Cindy Shaw in an underwater tank at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The underwater ceremony will be a first for the aquarium, which has only ever held ceremonies in front of the building.
Shaw will be dressed as a mermaid, complete with a tail and starfish top, while Smith will sport a teal cumberbund over his wetsuit. Songs from the Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” will play in the background, the couple said.
Smith and Shaw, who live in Huntington Beach, said in an interview with the Long Beach Post that they first met in 2009 at a scuba diving conference in Long Beach. From there, it was love at first sight.
“I walked into this big room, looked across 40 feet of casino tables and I saw Cindy,” Smith said. “My life changed. I never believed in love at first sight but there it was.”
Smith, an experienced diver of about 50 years, invited Shaw, who was fairly new to diving, out on a date. Since then, the two have been inseparable.
Shaw, who has had prior marriages, said her love with Smith has been different from anything she has experienced before.
“This is so different, because when I was younger it was all about looking for someone to be the father of your kids and just very different things,” she said. “At this point in life, if you’re not finding a really nice match that will significantly make your life better, why bother? It just became where Patrick made everything about my life better and enhanced it.”
After five years of dating, Smith popped the question while swimming underwater with Shaw off the coast of Santa Barbara in September.
Smith opened a clam shell, which contained a ring and the words “Will you marry me, Cindy?” Shaw took off her scuba mask, kissed Smith and said an eager, “Yes.”
Following the underwater proposal, the couple was encouraged by the diving community to also have the ceremony under water.
“I was apprehensive at first but then we kind of got interested in the idea,” Smith said. “Cindy talked to the aquarium, and she’s a heck of a negotiator.”
Shaw added, “The aquarium had never done an underwater wedding before. They’ve had weddings in front of the aquarium and they also have a scuba diving program, so I just convinced them to step outside the box and combine the two programs.”
Shaw said the ceremony, which is private invitation-only, will have well over 200 guests. Unlike other underwater ceremonies in oceans, where the wedding party and their guests all get wet, only the bride and groom will get wet at this ceremony. Attendees will view the ceremony from a glass window, where they will be able to hear all the activity from in the tank.
“It’s turned into an incredibly fun event with cooperation from amazing people at both the aquarium and throughout the dive community,” she said. “We hope this also opens more doors for the aquarium and more people will want to try something like this.”