Dolly and Pedro, both with years of experience as high-flying aerial stars, know about imperfect. In a perfect world, their wedding would have taken place almost 20 years ago, not long after she and Pedro met while performing in separate units of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (an attraction of opposites, they both admit, with Pedro outgoing and fun-loving, Dolly quiet and serious). It was, after all, the Fourth of July weekend of 1990 when Pedro first proposed. Dolly had flown up to New York to visit him from Sarasota, where she was taking care of her ailing father, the late, great circus clown Lou Jacobs. Pedro had found a simple but dainty engagement ring, and nervously set it before her on the table in his show trailer and asked her if she would marry him. She said yes, and it seemed as if their “I do’s” would be only a short time away.
But two days later, Pedro fell from improperly rigged equipment and broke both ankles. Instantly his health and recovery became the couple’s prime concern; and it was, Pedro says, “an eternity” before he was healed and ready to take to the air once again. Wedding plans were put on hold indefinitely. “There was no urgency,” says Dolly. “There were times when he wanted to go to the courthouse, but I didn’t want to do it that way.”
But, she adds, it just felt right now, when her 85-year-old mother, Jean, and godmother Margie Geiger, who taught Dolly her Roman rings act, could be at her side as the two exchanged vows, and when friends from Sarasota and around the world could come together in the Ringling Museum courtyard (which to hometown girl Dolly is “sacred ground” for its circus and arts heritage) to help the two reaffirm the commitment to each other they’d already made in their hearts.
Dolly and Pedro began planning the wedding more than a year ago. She selected her elegant pearl Badgley Mischka gown and long veil trimmed with sequins from Le Couture Bridal in Lakewood Ranch; her blush and peach floral arrangements of roses and orchids from Mr. Florist, whose Ron Carter also acted as wedding director. She and her sister, Lou Ann Jacob Barreda, and longtime best friend, Golda Ashton Hay, went shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses,