The dress is picked, the planner is hired, and the date is booked. Now all that's left is to decide on the venue — the memorable setting where you will become husband and wife. We know, no pressure, right? The decision can seem daunting. And with proposals becoming full-blown theatrical performances these days, the pressure for the day itself can be overwhelming.
So if you're looking for ideas, where have other couples chosen to exchange vows? How about in aisle of T.J. Maxx? On the asphalt of a racetrack? Under water amid a pool of man-eating sharks? Okay, so these might not fit the Pinterest-perfect idea you had for your own nuptials, but you have to hand it them — they were unforgettable! Here are the strangest, yet sweetest places couples have said "I do".
1. Discount Store
If you're on a budget, how about getting married for 99 cents? (You'd make Macklemore proud.) On September 9, 2009 (09/09/09), the 99 Cents Only Store in Hollywood married nine engaged couples in aisle 9. (We're sensing a theme here...) Kathy Jacobs, a.k.a. Discount Store Diva, created the décor for the ceremony and reception entirely from store inventory, including a gown. The couples even got a receipt (you know, in case they want a refund).
2. Doughnut Shop
This story is actually very sweet. (See what we did there?) Voodoo Doughnut, a popular doughnut-and-coffee chain in Portland, Oregon, has married off 300 couples. Part of the package? They offer an entire menu of matrimonial options, such as the "Legal Voodoo Wedding" package for $200: "Legal wedding ceremony, coffee & doughnuts for 24 people, 700-square-foot chapel, free parking & doughnut centerpiece." Chris and Chanti Hayes recently got married at the newly opened Voodoo Doughnut shop in Denver, Colorado on 1/4/14 at 1:14 p.m. And as an extra special bonus? CEO Robin Ludwig attends every wedding donning a different costume — the Hayes got the chicken suit.
3. Shark Tank
If either of you are getting a case of cold feet, this is one place where you're forced to confront your fears. In the summer of 2010, Diver couple April Pignataro and Michael Curry — both donning wetsuits and radio headgear — were locked in a steel cage and then lowered into a shark tank to be wed. The 120,000-gallon tank at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, NY, was filled with sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks and moray eels. "We both love the ocean ... we love the water ... and yes, the idea of an underwater wedding, not to mention one surrounded by sharks at an aquarium, is different and unique, but that is also exactly who we are," the bride gushed. And no, luckily, they surfaced unscathed from the dive.
You can now order your "I do's" with a side of eggs and bacon. Nancy Levandowski and Steven Keller were the first couple to get hitched at the Denny's flagship in Las Vegas, which boasts its own non-denominational chapel. "As passionate Denny's fans for more than 35 years, my husband and I couldn't think of a more fun and exciting way to tie the knot than at Denny's Vegas location in the very heart of the restaurant," Nancy said. At the reception, the couple carved a Pancake Puppies wedding cake and Grand Slamosa cocktails. Denny's wedding packages (yes, seriously) start at $95, just in case you're hungry and wanting to get hitched at 4 in the morning.
5. A Famous Racetrack
If getting married in of itself wasn't a thrill enough, in 2005, Survivor winner Chris Daugherty and his bride Lorie Groves got married at the Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Even better? NASCAR driver Mark Martin served as the honorary best man. "You don't pass up an opportunity to get married at Daytona, especially in Victoria Lane," Daughtery said. "It's a once in a lifetime experience."
6. Taco Bell
Yo quiero tu amor? Back in 2009, Illinois couple Paul and Caragh Brooks got hitched at one of their favorite fast food joints — Taco Bell. The whole wedding cost around $200 and employees decorated the restaurant with streamers, balloons and hot sauce packets with "Will you marry me?" labels printed on them. "I would never have expected in my life in working here there would be a wedding," remarked restaurant manager Carl Hamlow. Us neither. But hey, at least there was a built-in buffet?
7. T.J. Maxx
No cold feet for these two: bargain-hunter bride Lisa Satayut bagged her man in the shoe aisle of discount retailer T.J. Maxx. The self-described "Maxxinista" said that people who scoff at her unconventional choice of venue simply don't understand her lifelong struggle with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Between hospital stays and bouts of depression, shopping with her sister and grandma at the store gave her happy memories. "The one constant in my life, no matter what, has always been T.J. Maxx," she said. We say —bargains to bargain weddings — whatever makes you happy!
8. Up In A Tree
When the hunt was over for this bowhunting Iowa couple, they fittingly decided to clad their best camo and get hitched in a tree wedding. Kim Silver, 42, wore a silk gown made by camouflage specialists Mossy Oak and her groom Marvin Hunter (perfect, right?) wore a matching camo shirt and pants. Atop a tree stand hunting platform, they exchanged vows and fired off arrows at targets. The camouflaged bride said that they hunt together so often that a camo-themed ceremony "just seemed like the right thing to do." Can't argue with that.
9. Nudist Resort
For better or worse ... and au naturel! On Valentine's Day of 2001, 11 tourist couples — all in the buff — exchanged wedding vows at a Jamaican resort. They held another similar group ceremony for which the couples were offered a complimentary four-night stay in the tropical paradise. "We love each other naked so why not start our life together naked?" said one couple. "We both love doing wild and crazy things!" said another. Needless to say, the locals were not so amused.
10. A Haunted House
One couple took the "til death" part of their vows very, very seriously. In October of 2009, Jack Holsinger, 61, and Connie Spitznagel, 44, dressed up as vampires for a Halloween-themed ceremony at a haunted house in Ohio. The groom arrived in a coffin carried by six pallbearers. The minister was dressed as Jason in the "Friday the 13th" movies. After the vows were exchanged, he ordered Holsinger not to bite his bride on the neck. And who's idea was this? The bride's! "This is her first wedding," Holsinger said. "She had a common-law marriage the first time around, so she never really got a wedding. It's what she wanted and it's about her. It's her time. Whatever she wanted." Anything for love, right? That's sweet.
11. Home Depot
We've all seen the too-cute Home Depot proposal video, but a couple got married there too. (There must be something in the sawdust over there.) In June of 2010,Carolyn Weatherly and Audwin Mosby, both workers at the Lake Forest location, walked down an aisle stocked with light bulbs, grills and paint to a ceremony staged in the outdoor garden section and built with lumber supplies. The couple was the first in California to be married at the home improvement store and got the OK from the regional manager. With her son and daughter-in-law also working at the store, the bride considered her orange-apron donning coworkers her family.
12. Whole Foods
One couple tied the knot where they first met: Whole Foods Market. Jack Frankel, 75, met his bride-to-be Fina Nikolos, 67, on a rainy day in the aisles of the supermarket. Fina offered to walk him to his car with an umbrella. A little less than a year later, the two decided to make things official at a small wedding ceremony in the store's cafe. The food included store specialties (naturally) like Thai mahi mahi curry and pork vindaloo, as well as a custom wedding carrot cake and a champagne toast. This was the first time customers wed in a Whole Foods Market in Florida. It wasn't his first marriage or hers, but it was a chance meeting that clearly was meant to be. They both prove you're never too old for a second (or third) chance at love!