Stacy Oftedahl Sass and Jake Sass are all smiles after going through the Arch of the Sabers ceremony at their June 27, 2009, wedding in Chatfield.
Stacy Oftedahl Sass and Jake Sass are all smiles after going through the Arch of the Sabers ceremony at their June 27, 2009, wedding in Chatfield.
The military tradition of the Arch of the Sabers was a special, memorable feature in the wedding of Jack and Stacy Sass, held in Chatfield last June.

"We excused everyone from the sanctuary, and the ushers directed everyone outside. From there, the saber bearers performed the Arch of the Sabers. The Arch of the Sabers is a military blessing to the military couple and ends with a swift tap to the behind of the bride, along with the words 'welcome to the Army, Mrs. Sass.' It is a very cool part of the wedding," said the former Stacy Oftedahl of Stewartville, who became the bride of Chatfield West Point graduate Jacob Sass on June 27, 2009.

"Since it was a beautiful day in June, we loaded a nice wagon, chauffeured by our good friend Pete Boyum, and rode to the reception area."

Stacy, daughter of Nels and Cindy Oftedahl of Stewartville, met Jake, son of Scott and Barb Sass of Chatfield, when they both were 17 years old - he a senior at Chatfield High School, and she, a junior at Stewartville High School.

Jake was on the wrestling team and had wrestled with Stacy's brother, Riley, now stationed with the Army in Germany. Stacy was a wrestling cheerleader, and she and Jake began dating after the first wrestling tournament of his senior year. Their courtship continued for four years and seven months - during which he graduated from four years at the United States Military Academy at West Point on May 23, 2009 - then it took wing with diamonds.

Getting engaged

Stacy shared the story of how they got engaged.

"Jake took me out to supper at Victoria's in Rochester for our four-year, seven-month anniversary. Afterward, he pulled into the Rochester airport, we walked through the hangar - me having no clue why we were there - and on the other side was a private plane waiting and Jake's brother Jesse, who handed Jake his suit coat.

"Jake told me to stand there for a minute, and he took a bouquet of roses out of the plane. He handed them to me and one of the roses had a note on it - 'I'll love you until the last rose dies' - of course, it was a fake rose.

"I looked over to find Jake, and he wasn't there - he was on his knees with a ring. The waterworks started, I was shocked and gave him a huge hug and said 'yes.' Jesse was the pilot, and flew us above surrounding towns during sunset."

Although the couple was excited about their impending marriage, making arrangements for the wedding was complicated by limited communication between bride and groom. Stacy was going to school at Luther in Decorah, and Jake was in New York.

"Jake was only able to call me on weekends, in which I could run ideas past him. He is easygoing and trusted what I was planning, and I frequently got 'whatever you want, dear.' So I ran with it, and at times I was very stressed between the wedding and school, but my mom, Cindy, was my lifesaver and I couldn't have done it without her."

Stacy elaborated, "Some of the biggest challenges involving the military part of the wedding were coordinating getting the sabers from West Point to Minnesota in time for the wedding and informing everyone on times and places, since we had military guys coming from Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin and other states, and my brother was home from his post in Germany.

"Also, for me, choosing colors that went well with the dress blue uniforms was a challenge."

Details

Not only did the bride have to consider how to convene people from across the nation in one place and make sure colors matched, she also had to incorporate military wedding details into the ceremony.

"There are so many little particular details that need to be followed. I needed to be on Jake's left and link arms - do not hold hands. The saber bearers have particular things that need to be said and happen in a certain order. Important military personnel are seated at the front of the church. West Point has advisors for military weddings, which helped immensely."

The Rev. Eric Finsand officiated the wedding held at Chatfield Lutheran Church. Jake's cousin, Karen, served as a reader. Alex Sass, Aaron Thieke and Chris Muller were ushers, with Heather Mosher and Ruth Oftedahl as personal attendants.

Taylor Oftedahl was flower girl and Thad Evans ring bearer. Saber bearers were Riley Oftedahl, Jerry Gorss, Caleb McCollum, Matt Schlesinger, Friend Solberg and John Hackmann.

Stacy related, "I would call our wedding 'classy fun.' We had the classic military wedding with saber bearers and the Lutheran ceremony and the reception was fun, welcoming, and a good time with a lot of great friends."

She chose a white taffeta gown with a lace beaded bodice and a cinched taffeta skirt with a chapel train. Maid of honor Jill Oftedahl and bridesmaids Chelsea Wellik, Jessica Thompson, Tara Andrist and Lynn Budahn wore floor-length sable dresses with a slight train and a taupe sash that flowed during the ceremony and tied for the reception. The dresses had the same pickups on the skirt as the bride's dress.

"The flowers were supposed to be bright blues for the bridesmaids. The flowers I received were dark roses."

It was the only part of the wedding that did not go perfectly, yet Stacy still loved her bride's bouquet.

Jake was regulation smart in his dress blues military uniform, as were best man John Runkle and groomsman Riley Oftedahl. Fellow groomsmen Jesse Sass, Tim Finley and Luke Boyum wore brown tuxedos with matching brown shoes.

Arch of Sabers

Following the ceremony, Stacy took Jake's arm and the couple proceeded through the Arch of Sabers - usually performed by the ushers - customarily done with six officers, although according to the instructions for the arch, four or eight sabers can be used.

The Arch of the Sabers begins with military personnel forming two lines, in which the person positioned as the last one in the left line is "generally the person that gives commands and introduces the newly married couple... the person positioned as the first person in the right line is the one who welcomes the bride to the Army."

Sabers are positioned at the shoulder as the men line the stairs and turn to face the center, at which point the bride and groom approach, stop before they reach the first set of sabers, then are introduced. Sabers are then presented - at chin level - then raised in the right hand with the cutting edge up, "thus forming a true arch."

The bride and groom then walk under the arch, pausing after passing under the last saber. The two saber bearers on the end "then close sabers by bringing the sabers down to cross at waist level." That's when the new Mrs. Sass received her customary saber swat.

Festivities continued at Mike and Pam Thieke's shed, where the reception featured the deejay "Music to Go," dinner catered by Old Tyme Café & Catering, and a wedding cake they cut using a military saber.

Unique features

Stacy felt that their wedding was unique due to "the fact that Jake graduated from West Point and that we were able to make that a part of our wedding... also, just having the diversity of people from across the country, all respectable and important friends from the Class of 2009, made it a special day."

She continued, "It was the first time for many of the guys to ever be in Minnesota. Having everyone together in one place, including my brother from Germany, was a great feeling and a blast. Barb and Scott opened their home to all the guys, and we are very grateful."

Newlyweds Jacob and Stacy Sass honeymooned in Wisconsin and Michigan.

"The first night we stayed on Green Bay, then stayed a few nights on Mackinac Island and then went to a friend from West Point's wedding in Traverse City, Mich. We spent the Fourth of July with friends."

Now posted in the infantry at Fort Benning, Ga., for officer training and ranger school, Jake will be stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky following completion of ranger school. Stacy is finishing her formal education at Luther College and plans to join him in Kentucky after she graduates this coming December.

Mother-in-law Barb Sass said she enjoyed "having so many good friends and family come to town and having a good time all week and weekend. And we love Stacy like our own daughter."

Barb added, "The reception was a blast... since it was so fun and lasted until after 2 a.m., some sleep was in order when it was over. It was also a blast having all of those young men at our house - all of them very respectful and honorable - very thankful to them, who will be serving our country! Many were impressed by the military ceremony."