August 27, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
The first ever wedding at Dragon on the Lake was a total surprise to the groom.
Donna Miller, 46, left her house at 6 a.m. to get dressed up, while Dennis Miller, 56, and his sons grabbed the pasta salad and coolers to meet her at the 8:30 a.m. captain's meeting for "You Just Know," their Dragon Boat Team.
"I walked down the sidewalk and looked at her in her wedding dress, she was so beautiful she stopped me in my tracks," Dennis said. "It was one of those things where I thought, what, is this real? My mind didn't function that fast. There was a beautiful woman in a wedding dress, and we were about to get in the dragon boat."
Miller's wife, Donna, had been planning the secret wedding for six months.
"He surprised me with an engagement, and I never had someone pull something like that on me before. So I thought to myself, 'I am going to get you,"' Donna said.
Originally the couple was set to wed September 6 on Lake Michigan. Or so he thought.
But after Dennis proposed to Donna in front of "everybody" at Kruse and Muer in Lake Orion—masked as a birthday celebration earlier this year—his wife vowed to seek playful revenge.
"The look on his face was the best ever. Beet red," she said. "The funniest thing was when he walked in, he looked down on the ground and didn't even know it was me. His oldest son patted him on the shoulder and said, 'here's your tux, go get ready," and the wedding went on.
Donna married Dennis before the opening ceremony of the Dragon Boat Races at Green's Park as family, friends and racers gathered to watch their vows.
Then the newlyweds and their team of children and a few gym buddies raced and won their bracket.
It was one of those loves where "you just know."
"The first time I saw her, I got out of the car and turned. She was standing ten feet behind me. I looked into her eyes and felt it in my heart that I knew I was going to marry this woman. You just know," Dennis said.
The phrase stuck with them.
Dennis first told Donna about the feeling, where "you just know," on their first date after getting to know her for a little over an hour.
"She knew that day too, even though she wouldn't say it," he said.
So, Donna ordered Dennis, who is a Marine veteran, a set of dog tags for Christmas last year. On the tags she inscribed "You Just Know."
"I said to my daughter, if I ever get married again, it's going to be him, and I only knew him for three weeks," she recalled.
Dennis couldn't wait. He proposed to her, for the first time, Christmas Eve, even though he didn't have a ring. He brought the ring to the second proposal, however, and thoroughly embarrassed Donna with the surprise.
"Right then I knew, Dragon on the Lake, you are dead!" she said.
"The day was just absolutely wonderful. We had our kids racing on the boat with us. I just figured since the whole family was going to be with us anyways, why not just do it then?"
One of the best parts of the surprise is it will happen again.
Previous Orion Art Center Director Reggie Harrison, along with Joe Johnson of Orion Neighborhood Television (ONTV) are planning to re-enact the wedding ceremony for a special ONTV news production "lip dub" after the homecoming parade Sunday, September 21.
In one continuous take, Johnson will videotape the homecoming crowds from Children's Park down Broadway, left on Flint St. to Green's Park where Dennis and Donna will reenact the ceremony, singing Harrison's Dragon on the Lake song altogether.
To view the video, "like" OrionONTV on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and a message will pop up in your news feed when the video is ready to view at orionneighborhoodtelevision.org/.