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What's a Guerrilla Wedding and Could You Hold One?

More couples are breaking the rules for their big day.

By Kristin Wong Jul 10, 2012 3:41PM

Photo: Robert Johnson/Getty ImagesWith the average cost of a wedding exceeding the median U.S. income, it's no wonder more couples are opting to stay engaged longer or forgo marriage altogether.  Especially if you live in a large metropolis like New York City, where the average wedding costs upwards of $65,000, staying single doesn't sound so bad.

But if you're willing to add a bit more stress to your big day, there's an affordable option for couples ready to tie the knot. The price starts at: free.

Allison Dolan Hall is a wedding officiant in New York City who says there's been a steady increase of "guerrilla weddings" in the past year.

"A lot of couples are thinking [a traditional wedding] is a lot of money to spend and so this is where a lot great ideas come in." Hall told DNAinfo.com.

In a guerrilla-style wedding, the couple chooses a public or private location without making a reservation, hiring a band, or having an open bar. All that's needed is the bride, groom, one witness and one ordained minister. From there, the wedding can be held anywhere from Central Park to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The inspiration comes partly from the movie The Vow, where Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams hold a wedding ceremony at the Chicago Art Institute before being chased out by security. Hall says, "about half of my local clients now are seeking this style of wedding."

You can't beat the price tag, but there are some drawbacks, including the whole being run out by security thing. For one, you shouldn't invite more than 20 friends and family members.

"If you have an entourage, that's a dead giveaway," Beth Lamont, a wedding celebrant who has been marrying couples since 1971, told DNAinfo. "Sometimes we snatch a passerby as a witness, so it can be very exciting."

ElopeNewYork.com has compiled a list of rules for holding a guerilla-style wedding, and they suggest obtaining a permit if you plan to invite more than 20 guests.

"NEVER try to do a large wedding without a permit," they write. "…or the poor security guards will have to act. It's their JOB, and your wedding will be ruined."

There are also "guerilla elopements," where a group of friends and loved ones gather only to find themselves as surprise witnesses to a quickie wedding. ElopeNewYork suggests: "…be discreet and fun. Speak quietly….Concentrate on each other and what you are saying. Choose your words and vows carefully. It's your wedding—not a punk'd prank." 

There is a caveat, however:

"ALWAYS TELL YOUR MOTHER. You don't want her to faint, or go to the washroom crying because you didn't care enough to tell her."

While these weddings are easy on the budget, they're probably overly taxing if there's even an iota of "control-freak" in you. And bridezillas can probably forget about a guerrilla wedding altogether.

What do you think—would you go rogue for your big day?

Photo: Robert Johnson/Getty Images

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Tags: weddings
103Comments
Jul 10, 2012 11:46PM
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Almost 50 years ago my future wife, her parents and I went to a Justice of the Peace in the (still) very small town of Biggs, CA on a late Saturday evening and got married. The Justice of the Peace owned and ran the small newspaper and when we arrived he "stopped the Presses", took off his printing apron, put on his sport jacket and performed the ceremony. I was in The Navy at the time so I had my uniform on. I offered him some money and he wouldn't take it. So our wedding cost us no more than the gas to drive 30 miles and we are still married. I subscribe to the tenet that the more the wedding costs the shorter the marriage.
Jul 10, 2012 11:41PM
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I got married like this, more than a decade ago...I believe they called it "eloping" then...gosh, I feel so old now that I am in my early 30's, things are just so new and novel...
Jul 10, 2012 11:30PM
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Kim *mediawhore* Kardashian spend multi-millions on her SECOND marriage and it lasted 74 days.

You could email, tweet, FB, and snail mail postcards to 50 friends and family telling them you were throwing a small casual meet-up at 2p.m. sharp at..........address.......... Be there or later wish you had been.

They show up and SUPRISE, they are at your wedding. No decorations, no rented clothes, no 100 dollars an hour violin player.  On the 74th day after your wedding, you are MORE married that Kim and Kris, because your wedding has something that money can't buy.......and that something is LOVE.

Jul 10, 2012 11:30PM
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 I think this sounds like fun actually but people need to worry more about the marriage and less about the wedding.  Beautiful weddings do not  have to cost such ridiculous amounts. 
Jul 10, 2012 11:17PM
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Yeah, I'd do a guerrilla wedding.  The truth is, my hubby and I pretty much did that anyway.  In April 1999, he asked me on a Sunday evening, we got the license on Monday, and on Thursday night after church, we got married in the fellowship hall.  The guest list consisted of whoever happened to be at church that night.  Very low cost, very low stress.  We were very happy with how it turned out.
Jul 10, 2012 11:13PM
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This is something new?  I did this in Hawaii in '06.  I was stationed there and my future ex hubby had a matching day off.  We opened up the yellow pages and the first one we saw we set up with.  Kailua beach park, no shoes, 2 friends as witnesses, the rev and a photographer that came in the pkg.  Done.
Jul 10, 2012 11:13PM
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This is something new?  I did this in Hawaii in '06.  I was stationed there and my future ex hubby had a matching day off.  We opened up the yellow pages and the first one we saw we set up with.  Kailua beach park, no shoes, 2 friends as witnesses, the rev and a photographer that came in the pkg.  Done.
Jul 10, 2012 11:10PM
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This sounds amazing but I'm such a control freak I wanted the princess wedding which in Seattle Wa I was able to do for under 10,000 which was a steal! We are talking, dress, cake, decorations, venue, food, booze, minster everything. I made DIY everything which saved me a ton!
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