by Jim Boyle
John and Kim Arth were married 29 years ago today.
It was a disastrous wedding day.
Their honeymoon to Montana was even worse in many respects. But the Elk River couple wouldn’t change a thing about their stormy beginning to matrimony. Their journey together as husband and wife has been exhilarating despite any bumps in the road.
It was Mother Nature that set the tone for their big day and their honeymoon getaway to Montana for skiing. A blizzard blanketed the state of Minnesota on their wedding day, providing two straight days of record snowfalls and wind gusts of up to 45 mph.
As the state shut down on Friday, Jan. 22, 1982, Kim Kufner and John Arth had to decide whether to proceed with their plans to marry that day or abandon them for a more suitable wedding day.
They proceeded, but not necessarily according to plan. For starters, Rosedale Mall, from where the tuxes were supposed to be picked up, had shut down.
“I had to pick them up from the gal’s house,” John recalled, referring to the owner or manager of the store.
The photographer for the wedding had to be picked up in a four-wheel-drive truck in order to make it to the wedding.
Of the 200-some people on the guest list, about half made it to witness John and Kim exchange vows to be faithful partners in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad and in joy as well as in sorrow.
The two have apparently delivered on their promises. They credit their ability to complement one another, patience and a willingness to work at marriage.
They also trust one another, like when John brought Kim to Elk River a few years ago to show her what would be their new home. It was on the Mississippi River, but it needed so much work he hesitated to show his bride inside.
She trusted him, though.
“I saw the vision,” she said.
The foundation for trust may have been cemented on their honeymoon, which included a stay at a monastery, treacherous roadways lined with black ice, five snowstorms on the way home alone and other scary encounters that left a new bride wondering if she would ever make it home alive.
“I think we thought if we could get through this, we could get through anything,” said Kim, of Elk River.
The Arths shy away from giving advice on marriage, but they do say “anybody can do it.” They say they are saddened to see so many marriages fall apart, with couples giving up too easy.
“You just have to try and work at it,” Kim said. “There’s no secret.”
The Arths met on Dec. 16, 1977, at Zahler’s Ballroom in Withrow. Kim, 51, is originally from White Bear Lake. John, 53, is a native of Forest Lake. They got engaged on May 29, 1981, which doubles as Kim’s birthday.
They have raised two children. One is married, and the other has just finished college.
They recall many good times together, and many bad times, too, but seem to find the humor in all of it.
“We adjust in life,” John said. “You have to.”
The couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on a two-week “trip of a lifetime” in Hawaii. It struck them while they were riding catamarans under beautiful blue skies that the special trip was nothing like their honeymoon.
“It was a wonderful time,” Kim recalled. “It was just so fun.”