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7 couples get hitched for free at Elkhart church

By Annie Chang
Published On: Feb 14 2014 06:20:47 PM CST

Seven newlywed couples got married on Friday - Valentine's Day at an Elkhart church, and each of the weddings was free. WSBT's Annie Chang has the heartwarming story.

ELKHART -

It's a very special Valentine's Day for seven couples in Elkhart, who hitched on a great day for a great price: nothing.

It's all thanks to Pastor Mark Dicken of the Trinity United Methodist Church, who came up with idea of offering free weddings several weeks ago.

"What better day to do something like this than Valentine's Day?" Dicken said.

Christopher and Stephanie Watson were the second couple of the day to be wed. The Watsons were high school sweethearts.

They've been together for 12 years and have three children.

But the timing and costs of a wedding never seemed to work out.

"We've planned a couple times, and something's always come up, so we jumped on it," said the bride. "It's been 12 years, it's time. It's time."

And thanks to the church, their day finally came.

"This is actually our anniversary any way, so it kind of worked out," the couple said.

Pastor Dicken and his staff put on seven free ceremonies this Valentine's Day. The decorations, flowers and refreshments were all donated by church members, he said.

Ceremonies at the church normally cost between $400 and $600 for non-members.
Money should never hold a couple back from getting married, Dicken said, because the love is more important than the ceremony.

"Over the years, I've had too many couples that have said, 'Well, we'd like to get married but we can't afford it right now,'" Dicken said. "So I just thought, 'What if? What if we offered this as a gift?'"

It's a gift the Watsons thought they might never receive.

"This seems so surreal. I didn't expect this to happen," Stephanie said. "It was two weeks, and--"

"Now we're married," her new husband finished.