Six brides sit outside a vintage thrift shop on Valentine’s Day. They laugh, tell stories, take pictures, and drape themselves over a cream sofa. This was the visual a couple of weeks back outside Alma Zen Vintage shop on the evening of its “Valentine for a Day” wedding event.
The premise? Alma Zen Vintage, in partnership with Blue Tiger Weddings, provided ten couples with the opportunity to get married on Valentine’s Day, with unfettered access to borrow any of the clothing in the store (including some truly gorgeous vintage wedding dresses, naturally), free rings that couples could take home, and a marriage certificate claiming they’re married “in the eyes of the cosmos, and all the galaxies that are inhabited.”
Oh, and did I mention the marriage certificate only lasts for 24 hours?
Photos by Polly Thompson | Text by Wynn Rederburg
“We’re doing this for Valentine’s, to celebrate the day differently, but still with love,” said owner and Blue Tiger Weddings founder Marfa Nekrasova. We caught up with her and Diego Julio from Alma Zen Vintage, in the hours leading up to the marathon wedding evening.
“With Marfa we met at university,” explains Julio. “We started to develop art nights [here, at Alma Zen], and because she organized some events here last year, and she wants to become a wedding planner, I told her ‘Why don’t we do a Valentine for a Day? We have all the dresses and we could marry the people and they could walk away certified for 24 hours, we have the rings, why not?”
“Whenever we have friends coming into the shop for events and whatnot, they admire the vintage wedding dresses, but no one wears them,” Julio adds. “Normally, people don’t get married like this anymore. It’s a vintage way to celebrate love. [The wedding event is] an excuse to get together and have a drink and listen to music and have fun. Also for Marfa, her wedding company tries to promote more of the alternative side to getting married. You don’t have many options to show just how far you can get [from the norm] with weirdness, [when it comes to weddings].”
Blue Tiger Weddings looks to redefine weddings, and center them not around tradition, but around what really matters: people in love, sharing it with their friends and family. After posting on social media and sharing the information in their own circles, nine couples agreed to participate. “Some are amigos de la casa, and some we don’t know, they just found us on the internet.”
Over the course of the evening, we watched four ceremonies of the nine hosted. For an event with a tongue-in-cheek tone, given the irony of a 24-hour marriage, each wedding was heartfelt, individual, and relationship defining.
German & Paola
These two were the first to tie the knot, and rightly so. Their energy was unmatched by anyone else during the event. They were impossible to miss, not because they were both sporting bright red, but because they had a strong, spirited presence. As long-time partners and long-time friends of Alma Zen, Paola and German didn’t hesitate to sign up to be married for a day. “We don’t know if we’ll get married for real, maybe someday. We’re very critical of marriage but for a day? Of course!”
They’ve been together twelve and a half years, and it shows. Their ceremony was intimate but the room was populated with people close to the community and close to Alma Zen. It was obvious they’re comfortable, and they take the time to build and support community around them.
Sada & Leandro
We found these two getting ready in the attic space above the shop, away from the hustle and bustle of the main floor. They came with another couple, friends of theirs, and the four of them also didn’t think much of their marital Valentine’s Day plans. As Sada put it: “Why would I do this? Because it’s fun, it’s one night, it’s cheap, it’s something unique. It’s something fun to do with your Valentine’s Day.”
She and her fiancé are already engaged, so this is almost a pre-wedding before the actual big day. “He’s my boyfriend, well, almost my husband!” Not only are they already engaged, but expecting a child as well. Their ceremony was held jointly with their friends. And when asked the most important part of a marriage, Leandro doesn’t hesitate to answer: “Love.” Between the three of them there’s surely enough of that to go around.
Ariadna, Vicky, Candela, Luz, Belén & Catalina
These six girls, all best friends, were some of the last to get married, in one of the most touching moments of the evening. Don’t quote me on the legal specifics, but all six married one other in a heartfelt joint ceremony.
“This year was really important to me and my friends because it was a pretty bad year for all of us, and it’s been two weeks since we’ve all been back together,” explained Ariadna. “We’re going to [get married] as a symbol of what we mean to each other.”
In a celebration of love and supporting friends through tough times, all six of these girls donned vintage gowns and vowed to continue to support each other this Valentine’s, instead of committing to romantic love. Vicky explains the origins of the group: “These girls have known each other all their lives, they met in primary school. Two years ago I moved to Argentina, I met this girl, and she introduced me to this group, and the truth is that I’ve never felt so close to a group of people.”
“We’re celebrating that we’re there for each other, and the relationships we have with each other,” summed up Candela.
The ceremony was well-attended by young friends of the girls, and supporters from the shop. During the ceremony, one of the girls read out a heartfelt speech, standing linked arm-in-arm with her best friends, and I caught several people in the room with teary eyes as she recounted how much these relationships mean to her.
“This love is more, more than my words can express, there are still no words invented to describe how I feel. No painting, song, or picture can admit all that I feel about you girls. It’s too much, it’s immeasurable.”
“We find ourselves in each other, over and over again,” she concluded.
Like weddings, Valentine’s Day is often shrouded in tradition and expectations. With this event, Blue Tiger and Alma Zen showed us that when you take away all the expectations of a wedding, you focus just on the relationships with the people you love. In the end, these weddings didn’t hold any less weight than any “real” wedding I’ve been to, because it’s the love that makes a marriage, not how many people attend, how old you are, or how long the marriage license lasts.
Nekrasova sums it up best: “For me marriage is firstly, a party. It’s possible to have a marriage only to have a great party with friends and family. You only do it once, or you think you’re only doing it once, or I don’t know, maybe five times! But you always can get divorced after, and it’s still been a great party.”