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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Tying knot, redneck way
Mud wrestling, mattress surfing? A Lithia couple get a spot on My Big Redneck Wedding.
By Jan Wesner, Times Staff Writer
Published February 28, 2008
Christy and Kevin Gonzalez, in their Lithia home on Wednesday, are appearing this week on CMT's My Big Redneck Wedding. The couple were married by their pastor in June but also had a second set of "redneck" nuptials in November.
Christy and Kevin Gonzalez of Lithia ride off into bliss on their wedding day during the TV show My Big Redneck Wedding.
You are cordially invited to attend the second wedding of Christy and Kevin Gonzalez. Nuptials will include mud wrestling, mattress surfing and a donkey. Get an invitation like that, and there's little question. You are a redneck.
Kevin and Christy, who live in Lithia, already knew that about themselves.
That's why they agreed to go on My Big Redneck Wedding, a reality show hosted by comedian Tom Arnold on cable network CMT.
The couple actually got married in June during a snook fishing trip toEnglewood with their pastor. They'd already lived together two years, and friends and family were itching for them to make it legitimate.
"Not like she was pregnant or anything like that," Kevin quickly pointed out. "Basically we had people bird-dogging us about getting married."
Their second wedding, on Nov. 3, was held so that everyone could join in the celebration.
Kevin, 32, grew up hunting, fishing and skipping school in Seffner and Plant City. He graduated from Armwood High in 1994 and works as an electrician at a factory in Plant City. He's also a state-certified trapper who rids properties of wild hogs and other nuisance animals.
Christy, 25, graduated from Riverview High in 2001. She's a vet tech at Turkey Creek Animal Hospital.
Kevin and Christy like to drive trucks in the mud, hunt hogs and go to church. They are, by their own account, rednecks. So it was only fitting that they would have a country-themed wedding at a ranch in Odessa.
She wanted to ride in on a horse. He would come in on an all-terrain vehicle. The flower girl would be perched on a donkey. Guests would mud wrestle in a plastic wading pool or ride on a mattress pulled behind a speeding ATV.
"It's pretty much just stuff we normally do," Kevin said.
They didn't know it would be on TV. Christy's cousin heard about the wacky antics they planned and submitted their name for the show without their knowledge. Kevin and Christy found out a month or two before that they were selected.
On the show's Web site, My Big Redneck Wedding promises to give "a whole new meaning to for better or for worse." The show has featured couples marrying on horses and under a canopy of beer cans.
Film crews followed Kevin and Christy off and on for a month as they finalized wedding plans, shopped for outfits -a traditional white gown for her, suit coat and camouflage vest for him, denim mini skirts for the bridesmaids.
Some highlights from the show: Christy oohs and ahs over camouflage baby clothes at a Plant City feed store. Kevin describes how he proposed to her on a nighttime hog hunt. Later, he offers a parting line: "Let's go constipate this marriage."
They said they were paid $2,500 to appear on the show. Eston Crowder, the wedding coordinator with a company called Superior Events, also was paid.
Crowder said he observed much of the filming and saw very little coaching.
But Christy said the experience wasn't all positive. Much of the 30-minute episode portrays her as sullen and unhappy. She never smiles.
"There were plenty of times when I was happy," she said. "They just didn't show it."
She said one film crew kept asking them to repeat things they said, but with slight changes, and that, when she refused to mud wrestle in her dress, they gave her another one. They also encouraged her to say bad things about her maid of honor, with whom she had a slight disagreement, she said. Christy wouldn't do it.
"It was a pain in the butt," she said.
On camera, at least, the guests appeared to have a good time. Some of their friends came over last weekend for some more mattress surfing.
She and Kevin are still trying to decide on where to go for their honeymoon.
"When we do it, we want to go all out," he said.
At the top of their list: a hunting trip to Georgia.
Kevin and Christy Gonzalez appear on episode four of My Big Redneck Wedding. The show airs several times over the next week on the CMT network, including today at 3:30 p.m., at 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Monday.
On the Web
An excerpt from the show can be seen at entertainment.tampabay.com.