By Vincent T. Davis
It was a tie-dye affair at the Haven for Hope campus Saturday morning as a formerly homeless man married a woman who turned his head at first glance, beside his best pal in the world.
As Marion Wright waited to take his wedding vows, Rudy, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, stretched and sprawled on the floor of the Capilla De Esperanza, or Chapel of Hope. The golden-furred dog has been Wright’s companion for more than two years, even when he lived on the streets.
Willborn held a bouquet of yellow roses as she entered the chapel wearing a sleeveless blue sundress that brushed the ground. Wright wore blue jeans, buffed black boots and a gray T-shirt.
Both of their garments bore psychedelic tye-dyed patterns selected by Willborn and popular during the Age of Aquarius.
Their friends Juliet and Rodrigo Romo decorated the three-tier cake with cosmic colors in the kennel office. When the bride asked her friend, Amber Woodward, what color eye shadow she should wear, Woodward said “tie-dye.”
And that was the pattern of the scarf tied around the neck of Rudy, honorary ring bearer.
Marion Wright’s journey to the altar comes a year after a network of strangers cared for his dog for six weeks as he entered Haven to right his life.
At the start of the service, his friend Beth Cooper sang Jesus Culture’s “Your Love Never Fails,” with guitarist Charlie Haley. A year ago, Cooper, acting on faith, stopped and picked up Wright, a stranger, near De Zavala Road and Interstate 10.
“The homeless ministry became my baby,” Cooper said.
The Rev. Ron Brown, Haven’s outreach manager, conducted the ceremony. He said he’d watched the couple become more spiritual before becoming husband and wife.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth,” Brown said to the couple, as Wright kept an eye on Rudy, who was rolling around on a rug. “But most of all, I’ve seen honor and respect. Keep one another close at heart.”
Willborn’s daughter, Mandi, holding her son, Willborn’s grandson, Draven Gonzales, looked on as Willborn and Wright held hands and the dog sat at their feet.
After being presented to the crowd, the newly married couple walked through the doors. Wright held his bride’s hand and gripped a blue leash tied to Rudy, trailing behind them.
Kim Henkel, another resident, introduced Willborn to Wright on Oct. 22 when she arrived on campus. She started walking with Wright when he took Rudy out in the morning and evening.
“The next thing you know they’re going out,” Henkel said. “And they decided their paths converged together.”
Wright’s new bride said she’s looking forward to a life in the country and being with him. She said they hope to be in their own home before Christmas.
Willborn said her relationship with Wright moved at a fast clip. The marriage is the fourth for each of them.
“His sense of honor attracted me,” she said after the ceremony. “When I married Marion, I knew they were a package deal.”
It was a slow process, she said, getting to know Rudy, whom Wright calls a “one-man dog.” She said she built a bond with the dog on picnics, walks and daily feedings.
Campus life safety officer Cheryl Kennedy said she’s seen Wright overcome struggles and complete a 30-day in-house recovery program while staying dedicated to taking care of his pet.
“I’m happy for both of them, they do each other well,” Kennedy said. “They’ll be a good combination — along with Rudy.”