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CK couple unmasks a wedding

After a wedding in which they surprised 80 family and friends who thought they were attending a Halloween party, Tim Johnson and Dianna Rider dance to their favorite song — Ann Murray’s “Can I have this dance?” Whenever Tim Johnson hears the song playing on the radio, he calls his now-bride Dianna Rider. - Photo by Jim Bryant
After a wedding in which they surprised 80 family and friends who thought they were attending a Halloween party, Tim Johnson and Dianna Rider dance to their favorite song — Ann Murray’s “Can I have this dance?” Whenever Tim Johnson hears the song playing on the radio, he calls his now-bride Dianna Rider.
— image credit: Photo by Jim Bryant

During the past four years, Tim Johnson and Dianna Rider’s Halloween party has gained notoriety. One year a guest dressed as an 8-foot taco, and the karaoke tends to get little wild.

But this year, the couple’s “I dos” out did all that.

“Something happens every time,” said an astonished Mike Buehl following the Johnson’s surprise wedding Saturday night.

“I know that he can keep a secret now,” Buehl said.

Buehl and his wife Cheryl co-hosted the party but were left in the dark when it came to their friend’s nuptials.

They were in good company.

About 80 friends and family gathered at the Johnson’s home, unaware the couple would, after seven and a half years of dating and nearly a year of secret planning, finally tie the knot.

At 9 p.m. the bride and groom entered the party, held in their workshop. Guests initially thought Tim’s top hat and tails and Dianna’s white gown was a costume change.

Shrieks of joy and statements of disbelief came from the group as the couple made their way to the front of the room stepping on white butcher paper and rose petals. A lighted trellis appeared from behind a tarp and they took their place in front of Larry Wright to take their vows.

“I thought they we’re kidding,” said Uta Kramer, friend and neighbor to the Johnsons. She and husband Kim had just had dinner with them last week and not one word about the wedding was mentioned.

Amid the masks, makeup and costumes were tears and laughter for the couple, who had initially met in high school.

Both members of CK High School’s class of 1968, Tim and Dianna ran with different crowds, but Tim was known as the class clown. Despite settling in the same area, Dianna and Tim rarely saw each other in town. It wasn’t until their high school reunion that they got to know each other.

“We just got together and we started laughing. Once our old friends that we went to school with knew we were together they said ‘God you guys should have been together through high school,” Tim said in an interview on the eve of their wedding.

“We both like the same things we like to golf and obviously garden and dance, Dianna said.

“Whatever we do, we do together and have fun. We don’t fight,” Tim added.

So why not get married?

“I didn’t want to drag her in the financial disaster I was in at the time,” Tim said.

But last Halloween Tim got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife.

“Because we’ve both been married before, we didn’t want any big to-do. You know how it gets, everybody wants to have their input. We didn’t want that. We didn’t want the hassle,” Dianna said.

They toyed with eloping, but decided it was a better plan to throw a surprise wedding. They anticipated one reaction.

“Full shock,” Dianna said. Only Tim’s children, the musician and pastor knew about the plan.

Keeping a secret of this kind has not been without its sacrifices.

“We’ve been living a lie for a year,” Tim said.

They have avoided seeing their friends too often for fear the plans would slip out. Until Saturday Dianna hadn’t worn her engagement ring.

The couple plans to honeymoon in Peoria, Ariz., and see the Mariners during spring training.

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