hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

News

December 12, 2013

From the battlefield to the altar

City company provides plush wedding for wounded warriors

For Mark Leonard and Rachel Blydenburgh, a storybook meeting is leading to a dream wedding.

As members of the U.S. military, they made it through tough times in Afghanistan and met as wounded warriors.

Now they are planning to hold their wedding, courtesy of Renaissance Golf Club’s offer to sponsor a Wounded Warrior Wedding celebration, at the posh 30,000-square-foot clubhouse on Kenoza Street. It will be as American as possible — falling on July 4.

Leonard and Blydenburgh met over morning coffee at a friend’s apartment while still in the Army. They quickly developed a close relationship.

Engaged in June, they decided they wanted a vintage wedding, something out of the novel, “The Great Gatsby.’’ They knew it would take time for that to happen because they would have to save plenty of money.

“We like the vintage and style from that era, the 1920s, not the money but the texture and fulfilling lifestyle from that period,” Blydenburgh said. “I’ve read Gatsby so many times.’’

Typically, a wedding like the one Renaissance plans to put together for Leonard and Blydenburgh will cost from $150 to $300 per person, said Cindy Lawrence, meeting and public relations director for Southworth, the company which owns Renaissance. The couple expects 120 people for the event.

The couple now lives in Canton. They met while recuperating from injuries sustained while in the military with U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. They were at Fort Drum in upstate New York, where Leonard was recovering in a Wounded Warrior program and Blydenburgh waited for retirement status because of injuries. She damaged her spine while on operations as an interpreter for an engineering group, and needed back surgery. He suffered a neck injury as the result of a vehicle rollover.

That is where Southworth Development from Newton, Mass., the owners of Renaissance in Haverhill, stepped in. Southworth offered to pay for the wedding the couple wanted. The wedding will help get them on their way to re-entering civilian life as a settled married couple with a family. They have an 18-month-old daughter, Scarlett.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • waldron

    James Waldron

    James Waldron was city's first true mayor Posted 19 minutes ago 1 Photo
  • The Lamp Post Posted 19 minutes ago
  • 140411_hg_hand_fooddrive

    Mayor James Fiorentini visits the food bank at Emmaus Inc. and meets with Emmaus' Americorp/VISTA volunteers Alexandra Elwell, Alison Lee and Gabriella Berger. They organized a food drive to replenish the supply at the bank.

    Emmaus Inc. looks to help the hungry Posted 19 minutes ago 1 Photo
  • Haverhill Real Estate Posted 19 minutes ago
  • sculpture

    RYAN HUTTON/ Staff photo. Haverhill High School's new sculpture was dedicated April 17.

    The week's news in review Posted 19 minutes ago 1 Photo
  • museum

    Courtesy photo Step into the past at the Haverhill Firefighting Museum. A new area, devoted to children, will open there May 3.

    Firefighting museum to unveil child-oriented exhibit Posted 19 minutes ago 1 Photo
  • 140412_hg_tje_celebration_02

    TIM JEAN/Staff photo. Vincent Buonanno, of Methuen, and member of their Sons of Italy, speaks before dinner to celebrate the Sons of Italy Victor Emanuel Lodge of Haverhill 75th anniversary of their Drum & Bugle Corps. 4/12/14

    Marching in Posted 19 minutes ago 8 Photos
  • Community Television Posted 19 minutes ago
  • Haverhill police log Posted 19 minutes ago
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • 140415_HG_MSC_ROBOT_4

    MARY SCHWALM/Staff photo Jazzy Brown, 4, of Haverhill, works with a a Robot named Connor as Behavior Specialist Julie Bernier looks on, during an interactive session at the Moody School in Haverhill.

    Their best friend's a robot Posted 7 days ago 5 Photos

Photos of the Week
Stocks