$40 bride, $40 groom, pays for all 40 weddings in 40 hours in downtown Atlanta

Sometimes browsing Craigslist can help you save some serious money on an express wedding. After paying their $40 a piece the bride & groom pose for photos before making their grand entrance into a ballroom reception filled with their family and friends.

40 hours & 40 couples spend $40 a piece for their wedding in a wedding marathon
Stephanie Marie plans out the wedding bouquets for the 1 hour express weddings

They’ll engage in all the usual traditions, a first dance as husband and wife, she’ll throw the bouquet and he’ll toss her garter. They will cut their cake together and even listen to a few of their loved ones struggle through emotional well-wishes during a champagne toast.

It’ll be a traditional wedding in every way — except that it’ll all take place within one hour and cost a total of $80. That the modest fee will be going to charity (Atlanta Children’s Shelter)  is, well, icing on the wedding cake.  How can this be possible is such a tough recession you ask? 

An array of local wedding  florists, lighting designers, photographers and cake designers, along with the hotel, have donated their services. It’s the brainchild of Atlanta wedding planner Sylvia Wayfer-Clark of Weddings by Stephanie Marie. She said she decided to use her 15 years of experience to give back to the community.

“My husband and I are in the car all the time and we see homeless people out there with buckets asking for money,” said Wayfer-Clark, who had no prior affiliation to the shelter before approaching its staff about coordinating the event. “I turned to him one day and said, ‘I’m tired of giving $2 and $3 here and there; I want to do something bigger.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you use your talent as a wedding planner to make a difference?’ ”

Wayfer-Clark hopes to raise $5,000 for the nonprofit, which finds housing, counseling and educational resources for homeless families. Wedding guests are encouraged to donate items such as sheets, medicine, pots and other much-needed household goods listed on the shelter’s Web site.

“I think it’s an incredibly selfless and generous event,” shelter development director Tony Conway said. “This is giving many people the opportunity to get married while generating funds for us. It costs about $10,000 a year to stabilize a family. The fees from the couples alone should raise enough to provide three months of services for a family.”

With the average American wedding costing about $21,000, Wayfer-Clark said that the event’s charitable benefits also extend to the couples.
“With the economy the way it is now, a lot of people are cutting back and they just can’t afford to have a wedding,” she said. “A lot of the women don’t want a justice of the peace wedding, so they try to hold out until they get the money for a ceremony with all the bells and whistles. We’re allowing couples to have a wedding and a reception that may have been beyond their reach in today’s economic environment for just $80.”

When I got married 12 years ago this would have been a welcome option for me while being poor and in college.  Instead I opted to put a large sum of the wedding on credit cards and pay it off over the next 5 years.  Not really the smartest choice in retrospect.  If your local community had a wedding marathon would you jump at the chance to get hitched for less? What other ways can workers in the wedding industry give back other than giving free wedding dresses to military brides?

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