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A perfect game: Vandergrift couple exchange vows in bowling alley

| Sunday, June 9, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
David Hill and Becky Burns of Vandergrift were married Saturday, June 8, 2013, on lanes 16 and 17 at Lee's Lanes on River Road in Parks. Lanes owner Debbie Snyder said they've owned the place for 25 years and this is the first wedding they've had there. Becky is an avid bowler, bowling for to fives times a week, but David's not so good, she says. Snyder said they're in their 40s and this is the third marriage for both of them, but their first wedding. She said they met in high school and somehow got reacquainted.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
David Hill and Becky Burns of Vandergrift were married Saturday, June 8, 2013, on lanes 16 and 17 at Lee's Lanes on River Road in Parks. Lanes owner Debbie Snyder said they've owned the place for 25 years and this is the first wedding they've had there. Becky is an avid bowler, bowling for to fives times a week, but David's not so good, she says. Snyder said they're in their 40s and this is the third marriage for both of them, but their first wedding. She said they met in high school and somehow got reacquainted.

When searching for a wedding venue, David and Becky Hill were offered a place that was right up their alley: Lee's Lane's.

The Vandergrift couple, both 46, exchanged vows and hosted a reception Saturday at the Parks Township bowling alley. About 125 guests attended.

The classic rock that filtered in over the sound system was replaced by the wedding march, and the couple — she in a long tulle-skirted dress and he in a white pin-striped suit — made their way down a makeshift aisle to the center of the bowling alley, at Lanes 16 and 17.

Between the computerized scoreboards and ball returns stood an elegant wrought-iron table with white candles. In front of it waited the Rev. Terri Swails of Boiling Springs Presbyterian Church, Kiski Township, who performed the ceremony.

Though she admits it was unusual, the pastor couldn't think of a better spot for the couple, who spend a lot of time at Lee's Lanes. The new Mrs. Hill belongs to three bowling leagues.

“I think all weddings should represent the personality of the couple, so this is perfect for them,” Swails said. “They had their wedding in a perfect place.”

After sharing their first married kiss and lighting a white candle symbolizing their union, the Hills wrapped up the ceremony by simultaneously sending bowling balls down the lanes.

Aside from the unlikely setting, the red, white and blue-themed wedding was tasteful and traditional. The dinner buffet and cookies were conveniently set up in the snack bar.

In lieu of a topper, two bowling pins — one decorated and dressed as a bride, the other, as a groom — flanked the tiered wedding cake.

The bowling bride credits the owners of Lee's Lanes, Deborah and Richard Snyder, with helping to come up with the idea and set the stage for a successful event.

“I'm very proud of it, and I'm very proud of what Rich and Debbie have done for us,” Becky Hill said.

As guests chatted happily, Anne Cherry said she probably would take the chance to bowl after the bridal dance. She and the bride, she noted, had been bowling together “forever.”

“I think it's unique,” she said of the wedding. “They may start a fad.”

That may not be a bad idea, because, as it turns out, the Hills aren't the only ones to experience love in the lanes.

Cherry and her boyfriend, Larry Blakenship, made their first date at Lee's Lanes. The two had met at another bowling alley, Holiday Lanes in Plum.

The Snyders themselves met at the bowling alley. When Richard Snyder, who purchased the business in 1988, met Deborah, a regular, it was love at first sight.

Another wedding guest, Dale Lookabaugh of Upper Burrell, proposed to his wife at Lanes 25 and 26.

While his was one of a number of engagements that began at Lee's Lanes, Lookabaugh said he never had seen a wedding there.

“It's got to be a first,” he said. “I've been coming here for 40 years.”

The Snyders confirmed that the wedding was the only one in Lee's Lane's history.

“We've had a lot of other stuff, just not a wedding,” said Deborah Snyder.

She said the closest such event in the entire area that she had heard of was at a Butler-area bowling alley. But the couple exchanged vows on a back deck, not in the lanes.

For groom David Hill, who has been brushing up on his game since he and his wife got together, the one-of-a-kind wedding was a great success.

“I was excited,” he said. “It was very striking.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer.

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