Instead of “Here Comes the Bride,” the bride and groom Wednesday walked down the aisle to Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” from “Star Wars.” A coffin leaned against the wall. The wedding cake: black.
The bride was dressed as a cat; the groom as a wolf, with metal-buckled boots, white furry paws, chained wrists and a white tuxedo T-shirt because this, after all, was their wedding day.
The scariest holiday on the calendar. But not to them.
And not to others either who on this Halloween decided to give the words, “Love you, boo,” special meaning.
“Am I scared of being married right now? No, I’m not scared at all,” said Donovin Franco, 23, who met his Kansas City bride, Amber Sultz, 21, just over a year ago on the Tinder dating app. They had a baby together, a girl, 3 months old now, named Selene, after the fierce heroine played by actress Kate Beckinsale in the “Underworld” movies. For their wedding day, the infant was dressed as a pumpkin.
For each of the last two Halloweens, the Rev. Natalie Remington, ordained through an online course in 2014, said she has done a steady wedding business at the Your Magical Day Wedding Chapel, 4321 N.E. Vivion Road, which she opened in 2016. It’s a walk-in wedding chapel.
“I thought it would be cool to have a Vegas-type thing in Kansas City,” she said.
She tried to have it 24 hours a day, but nobody showed up after about 7 p.m. So she stopped doing that. She stopped offering the $500 wedding that came with a cake, more than a dozen guests and a limousine for two hours.
“Nobody wanted it,” she said.
People want quick. The most frightening aspect of many weddings is the the ghoulish cost. Her clients don’t want to spend a lot. So at her place, the lowest cost wedding, at $75, takes barely three minutes.
But on Halloween, she wants those three minutes to count. Halloween is her favorite holiday, too. Two lit jack-o’-lanterns sit on her desk. If people want, she turns on the fog machine. The themes to the movies “Halloween” and “The Exorcist” float faintly in the background from a compact disc player.
“It’s a lot of people’s favorite holiday,” she said. “It’s a wonderful time of the year. It’s crisp out. The leaves are beautiful. There’s an excitement in the air. People like to dress up. A Halloween wedding gives everybody a chance. You have the excitement of the night. It just adds to the fun of the whole thing.”
At 10 a.m., Kathy McCoy, 38, and Dan Mitchell, 40, were the first to walk into the chapel. On Tuesday night McCoy had suggested that they perhaps should get dressed up. First as the the couple from the movie “The Notebook.”
“We both love that movie,” she said.
Then she suggested that Mitchell go as the public television artist Bob Ross. She would go as “a happy little tree,” something Ross often added to his paintings. But her husband-to-be winced at the idea. He would have had to wear a wig for Ross’ signature Afro.
So they came as themselves. She’s a a kindergarten teacher in Independence. He’s a truck driver. This would be their second marriage each. Three kids combined. “Blended family,” McCoy said.
It’s not easy for a teacher to get a day off in the middle of the week. But McCoy’s eldest son was sick at home. So, Mitchell took off from work and they decided to run over and do what they’ve been talking about for months.
They opted to forgo the fog machine. The tinkling strains of the “Halloween” theme played in the background.
“We are gathered here today to witness the exchange of vows and share in the joy of this occasion,” Remington said. She stood behind one of the jack-o’-lanterns, a cat cut out of its shell. The couple stood beneath a trellis entwined with fabric roses. “And we are here to celebrate the love you have for each other. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love never fails. …”
Two minutes later, they were wed, headed to the Social Security office where McCoy would officially change her last name. On Thursday, the kids would have a new teacher: Ms. Mitchell.
Sultz and Franco wanted to marry in a Grandview home, so Remington dispatched her 21-year-old daughter, Jennifer Elpert, to officiate. She dressed in her Hogwarts robe from “Harry Potter.” The couple are, as Sultz said, “high-intense gamers,” meaning video games. Elpert was given precise words to say: marriage vows, taken from the unofficial elder scrolls for the fantasy video game Skyrim.
“Ah, here is the blushing bride,” Elpert began. “Let’s begin the ceremony. It was Mara that first gave birth to all of creation and pledged to watch over us as her children. It is from her love of us that we first learned to love one another.”
About 20 of the couple’s friends, sitting in folding chairs in the living room, looked on. Franco’s mom dressed as a voodoo priestess, his dad as a voodoo witch doctor. Sultz’s mom sat nearby, as “Big Bad Red Riding Hood.”
“Do you agree to be bound together, in love, now and forever?” Elpert asked each.
“I do, now and forever,” Franco said.
“I do, now and forever,” Sultz replied.
Franco took the chains attached to his left wolf wrist and attached one end to her cat right wrist.
“You may seal your covenant with a kiss,” Elpert recited.
Earlier, the bride shared her feelings.
“What do I love about Donovin? The fact that we’re like magnets,” she said. “We just connect so well. I know it sounds corny. We’re just in sync.”
Her engagement ring reads, “His Queen.” His reads, “Her King.” Each has a wedding ring that contains half a heart. Nothing frightening there. It’s the opposite.
Put together, they make one.