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Image: Kathleen Baldwin on her wedding day
Courtesy Kathleen Baldwin
Kathleen Baldwin felt better about splurging on this $6,000 Vera Wang dress because she knew she could find a buyer for it before she even wore it herself.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/29/2012 3:35:45 PM ET 2012-11-29T20:35:45

When Kathleen Baldwin’s fiancé dropped her off at Vera Wang, he told her not to spend more than $5,000 on her wedding dress. But the gown she fell in love with had a $6,000 price tag.

Sound like a recipe for pre-marital strife? A few years ago it could have been, but Baldwin was savvy enough to tap into a growing trend.

“I remembered seeing people doing pre-sale before they had even worn it,” the 31-year-old Toronto schoolteacher recalled. “I said, ‘What if I could sell it? What if I could make some of the money back?’”

Yes, Baldwin’s plan involved selling her dress before her wedding day, not afterward — a tactic that’s becoming popular among budget-conscious brides-to-be with expensive tastes. On wedding websites such as OnceWed.com, RecycledBride.com, PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com and TheKnot.com, brides are listing never-worn wedding dresses, telling potential buyers when they plan to wear their gowns and when they will be available.

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These days, before a bride takes the plunge and buys a dress, she can whip out her phone, hop online and confirm its pre-sale value.

“It’s a way to check real estate, almost,” noted Emily Newman, owner and founder of OnceWed.com.

Baldwin successfully sold her dress to another bride in Arizona four months before her own wedding day. The day after her July 28 nuptials, she shipped the dress to Scottsdale.

“She got the dress for half the price, and I saved half the money!” Baldwin said.

‘It just makes sense’
Tracy DiNunzio, CEO and founder of RecycledBride.com, started seeing pre-sale dresses pop up on her site about three years ago. These days, about 20 percent of the popular, celebrity-worn, as-seen-on-TV luxury gowns on her site are pre-sales.

“The economy is still not where we’d all like it to be,” DiNunzio said. “If you find your dream gown and you know it’s a little bit out of your budget, you can guarantee you’ll make some of your money back even before you wear it.”

The brilliance of the pre-sale approach is that it provides an automatic discount on that dream dress, explained Josie Daga, owner of PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.

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“These are girls that are finding a way to get the dresses that they want,” Daga said.

Video: Bridal trend: Gorgeous gowns with show-stopping backs (on this page)

Daga’s wedding gown resale website has been growing steadily since 2004 — and when the recession hit, the site saw “gigantic growth,” she said. This year, it has 15,000 new listings.

“Saving on a wedding dress just makes sense,” Daga said. “When you’re talking about an $8,000 dress you’re going to wear for five hours, it’s not a bad idea.”

In Baldwin’s case, she was thrilled to recoup a chunk of change from her dress while still in the throes of wedding planning. And scoring her dream Vera Wang gown — the same Gemma dress Hilary Duff wore when she got married — just added to Baldwin’s anticipation of the big day.

“I bought the dress about eight months before my wedding so I had lots of time to have it up there and have it sold,” Baldwin said.

Image: Kristi Lofstedt on her wedding day
Courtesy Kristi Lofstedt
Kristi Lofstedt of Scottsdale, Ariz., panicked when her first dress purchase backfired on her. Her panic turned to relief when she bought this gently used Vera Wang Gemma dress from Kathleen Baldwin of Toronto.

The buyer also had time to feel relieved about her find. Scottsdale bride Kristi Lofstedt had been in panic mode because her first dress purchase was disastrous. While visiting her parents in New York City, she had gone to the upscale bridal superstore Kleinfeld (featured on TLC’s reality show “Say Yes to the Dress”) and bought a Lazaro ball gown. But the sample she tried on was a size 22 — and Kristi wears a size 0. When the dress arrived, it looked awful.

“It was eating me alive,” Lofstedt said.

The store wouldn’t refund her money in full, and her seamstress said she couldn’t make the ball gown work. Lofstedt went online that night and spotted Baldwin’s half-priced listing for her dream dress.

“I loved, loved, loved that dress,” Lofstedt said.

It had actually been her first choice, but she hadn’t bought it because she couldn’t afford it. Baldwin’s gown arrived right before Lofstedt’s August wedding, and Lofstedt’s seamstress barely had to alter it.

“We were both happy,” Baldwin said. “A lot of people ask, ‘Aren’t you sad you don’t have your dress?’ I spent a fortune on a photographer. I have great pictures and a video. What is the dress going to do? Hang in my closet?”

Slideshow: Relive Will and Kate's royal wedding in photos (on this page)

‘I was so, so, so careful’
Some brides find that it can be harder to pre-sell a gown that isn’t as luxurious.

Image: Kimberly Trinh on her wedding day
Courtesy Kimberly Trinh
Kimberly Trinh ran into difficulties when she tried to pre-sell her Enzoani Dabra wedding dress. She finally sold it about six months after her wedding.

Chicago bride Kimberly Trinh, 24, tried to sell her lacy, A-line Enzoani Dabra gown on TheKnot.com before her May 20 wedding — and she didn’t sell it until a few weeks ago. In hindsight, she said it might have been better to wait until after the wedding to navigate the dress sale. That way, she wouldn’t have had to deal with people making half-priced offers on her $850 listing while she had so many other details on her mind.

“You’re stressed out and that’s another thing you’re worrying about,” Trinh said.

But the pre-sale approach wound up reducing stress for Megan McAreavy, a Boston bride who had her heart set on a fitted, lacy Monique Lhuillier dress.

“I went to a million different stores and tried on different things,” McAreavy said. “I said, ‘Maybe I could find something cheaper.’ But everything I put on, I knew wasn’t what I was looking for.”

Pregnant bride wore bedding to the wedding

So the 28-year-old hairstylist headed to New York and visited Kleinfeld. She planned to try on a Lhuillier gown that was a couple years old, and then attempt to buy a used gown online. But the dress the consultant brought her was a new, revamped version from an upcoming collection. She loved it, but the $6,400 price tag freaked her out.

Image: Megan McAreavy
Courtesy Megan McAreavy
Boston bride Megan McAreavy bought this Monique Lhuillier dress for $6,400 and successfully sold it online for $4,500 before her wedding day.

She left the store, went to lunch and frantically spent the next couple of hours Googling on her phone trying to find a used version of the dress. She couldn’t.

Realizing she had found the only dress she wanted, McAreavy went back to the store and bought it. Then she went home and listed it on PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com for $5,000.

“I knew it was going to be an easy sale,” she said.

McAreavy sold her dress for $4,500 to a bride whose parents live in Boston. When the bride came home for Thanksgiving, McAreavy brought it to her and let her try it on in person. It fit. The bride gave her a 10 percent down payment, and they created a contract in which McAreavy promised that nothing would be stained, ripped or torn.

“I was so, so, so careful,” McAreavy said. “It was immaculate.”

Story: Bride shares wedding joy by giving away her $800 dress

She got married on the morning of April 12 in the Virgin Islands. She and her husband took pictures on the beach at sunset, then went to dinner with 12 guests. McAreavy told everyone to keep their drinks away from her.

“Until I got that dress off, there was no red wine!” she said.

Once the dress was safely zipped in its bag, she had a big glass of Cabernet.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Bridal trend: Gorgeous gowns with show-stopping backs

  1. Closed captioning of: Bridal trend: Gorgeous gowns with show-stopping backs

    >>> this morning on today's style, the latest trend in bridal fashion, show-stopping gowns from the back. here with four beautiful looks that make a statement is the editor in chief of "brides" magazine. this is the new trend all about the back. it makes sense because we do see a lot of the brides from the back.

    >> it makes absolute sense because if you think about it, key moments of the wedding, the bride spends facing away from her guests, walking down the aisle, saying her vows, during her first dance and cutting the cake. so our advice to ladies shopping for their wedding dress , don't just think about the front, you have to think about the rear view.

    >> duly noted. let's take a look at lauren who looks absolutely gorgeous. the dress is stunning from the front, but look at this back. now, that is a statement.

    >> this dress is all about the beaded back, and this is so popular right now. we're actually seeing, this is a trend within the trend. and it's all about the beading. and here even the draping --

    >> yes, the draping is gorgeous and mimics the draping in the front. and you can see here even the beading has draping in it. what's great about this dress, it's formal enough to get a pop of sparkle, but you could wear this at a beach wedding.

    >> which designer?

    >> rabini.

    >> beautiful. and i love the bows in her hair that match the beading on the dress, as well. do we get to see the front one more time? gorgeous. and look at that sexy slit, hello, very pretty. let's move on over to amanda, and she's wearing a gown with a statement bow. but first, notice the beauty of the front of the dress, simple but gorgeous.

    >> yes, this is a classic one for david's bridal.

    >> now turn around for us, samantha. beautiful. this is that big bow we were talking about.

    >> yes, it has that old hollywood glamour feel, if you think about marilyn monroe and that pink column gown with the oversized bow. this is a refreshing take on that. you get this elaborate fan detail and what's great about this dress, retails at less than $1,000. amazing value.

    >> gorgeous.

    >> and look at that beautiful train, as well. which is perfect in the picture.

    >> it really is.

    >> and it's detachable.

    >> it is? that makes it easier. when you're sitting down, sometimes the bow can get in the way.

    >> well, the bow -- actually the material is really soft, so the bow won't be a problem, but if you want to take off the train when it's time to dance, you can.

    >> there you go. can any bride wear a dress like this with a big statement bow in the back? if you have a little booty in the back, should you be worried?

    >> i don't think you should be. i think the beauty of this dress is that the detail is placed strategically in a place that's not going to add bulk. and because of the column shape, it's flattering, very slimming on the hips.

    >> thank you so much, amanda. okay. let's move on over to rachel. i'm going to walk around this way. and this dress, stunning from the front, in fact, i understand this is inspired by breakfast at tiffany's, is that right?

    >> looks like it.

    >> it's very classic, clean silhouette with this detachable sash. it's great. and when she turns.

    >> turns around here.

    >> the gorgeous cutouts and you see the button detail.

    >> right?

    >> yeah.

    >> it's really graphic. and the cutouts are popular right now because a lot of brides want something that's classic, but feel fresh and modern.

    >> adds a little edge. and notice the train here, as well. that's really pretty too.

    >> yes, another flirty detail.

    >> right.

    >> i love that dress. thank you very much. okay. and then lastly, we have danny wearing our fourth look here. and this dress is called an illusion dress, absolutely stunning.

    >> gorgeous. this dress is by panovia and all about high glamour with the beading from head to toe . and when she turns around, this is where you get the illusion.

    >> yes.

    >> the tattoo sort of effect.

    >> i call this a tattoo her mother will love. because all about this delicate, beaded applique.

    >> very sexy, right?

    >> it is very sexy. i could see a jennifer lopez or kim kardashian wearing a dress like this.

    >> it is absolutely gorgeous. our brides here beautiful, thank you so much. great job, gorgeous dresses. thanks.

Photos: Ceremony

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  1. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, walk hand in hand from Buckingham Palace the day after their wedding to a waiting helicopter. (John Stillwell / PA / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The wedding bouquet of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, lies on the grave of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey on April 30, 2011 in London, England. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge pose for an official photo with (left to right): Miss Grace van Cutsem, Miss Eliza Lopes, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HM The Queen, The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Lady Louise Windsor, Master William Lowther-Pinkerton.

    Back Row (left to right): Master Tom Pettifer, HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Harry of Wales, Mr. Michael Middleton, Mrs. Michael Middleton, Mr. James Middleton, Miss Philippa Middleton, in the throne room at Buckingham Palace. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, pose for a photograph with (clockwise from bottom right): Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Eliza Lopes, Grace van Cutsem, Lady Louise Windsor, Tom Pettifer, and William Lowther-Pinkerton in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, following their wedding at Westminster Abbey. (Hugo Burnand / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The royal couple poses in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011 in London. (Hugo Burnand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Prince William and Princess Catherine take a spin outside Buckingham Palace in a convertible following their marriage. (Matt Dunham / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Members of the public gather along the Mall and around the Queen Victoria Memorial as they await Prince William and his wife Catherine's appearance. (Oli Scarff / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Prince William, who has been given the title of The Duke of Cambridge, greets Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her husband Tim Mathieson at Buckingham Palace in London after his wedding. (Ian West / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Prince William and his wife Catherine exit the 1902 State Landau carriage as they arrive at Buckingham Palace after their wedding in Westminster Abbey. (Andrew Winning / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Prince Charles makes the journey by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following his son's wedding at Westminster Abbey. (Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Prince William and Princess Catherine approach Buckingham Palace by carriage procession following their marriage at Westminster Abbey. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Rachel Jane Eardley and Diane Pallett put the finishing touches to the royal wedding cake, that Fiona Cairns and her team created for Prince William and Princess Catherine, in the Picture Gallery of Buckingham Palace. (John Stillwell / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Their Royal Highnesses Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Thousands gathered outside the palace gates to witness the couples first public kiss as husband and wife. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Prince William and his wife Catherine, now known as the duchess of Cambridge, wave from their open-topped carriage as they leave Westminster Abbey after their wedding ceremony. (Alastair Grant / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Prince William, duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, ride along The Mall to Buckingham Palace following their marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Best man Prince Harry rides with two of the bridesmaids and a page boy in an Ascot Landau carriage along the processional route to Buckingham Palace after his brother's wedding ceremony. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Prince William and Catherine greet the thousands of people gathered along the processional route as they make their way in the 1902 State Landau carriage to Buckingham Palace. (Damien Meyer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Prince William and his new wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge emerge from Westminster Abbey after their wedding ceremony. (Lewis Whyld / Pa / Pool / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Prince William's father Prince Charles stands with Kate's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, after the wedding ceremony of their children. (Toby Melville / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip travel in a closed-top carriage along the processional route from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. An aerial view of Westminster Abbey as bride Kate Middleton arrives on the hand of her father Michael Middleton. She was trailed by her sister and maid of honor, Pippa Middleton, as well as her bridesmaids and page boys. (Wpa Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Prince William puts the ring on the finger of his bride Catherine Middleton in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold. (Andrew Milligan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Guests at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton join the couple in singing hymns. (Wpa Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Catherine Middleton, holding the hand of her father Michael, gives her groom Prince William a big smile while joining him at the altar at the start of their wedding ceremony. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Kate Middleton walks to the alter with her father Michael. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Bride Kate Middleton walks down the aisle with her father Michael at Westminster Abbey, followed by her sister Philippa and other bridemaids. (Andrew Milligan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Page-boy Tom Pettifer laughs as he arrives at Westminster Abbey with William Lowther-Pinkerton, and bridesmaids Lady Louise Windsor and Margarita Armstrong-Jones for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Kate Middleton arrives with her sister Philippa Middleton at the West Door of Westminster Abbey in London for her wedding to Britain's Prince William. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Kate Middleton waves as she rides next to her father Michael in a Rolls Royce on their way to Westminster Abbey for her marriage to Britain's Prince William. (Tony Gentile / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Maid of honor Philippa Middleton arrives at Westminster Abbey for the wedding of her sister to Prince William. (Carl De Souza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Britain's Prince William waves as he arrives with his brother Prince Harry at the West Door of Westminster Abbey for his wedding, in London on Friday. (Odd Anderson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Princess Eugenie of York and Princess Beatrice of York arrive at Westminster Abbey to attend the royal wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with the Dean of Westminster as she arrives at the West Door of Westminster Abbey. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Carole Middleton, the mother of Kate Middleton, arrives at the West Door of Westminster Abbey for the wedding of her daughter to Britain's Prince William. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrives at Westminster Abbey. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Anne, the Princess Royal, arrives at the West Door of Westminster Abbey. (Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Prince William marries Kate Middleton in the wedding watched by millions around the world (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. David and Victoria Beckham arrive at Westminster Abbey to attend the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Beckham served as a soccer ambassador with Prince William in Britain's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam arrive at Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding. (Alastair Grant / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish are directed to their seats in Westminster Abbey. (Dominic Lipinska / PA Pool via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Military bands play in London's Parliament Square ahead of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (John Giles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. A marching band of guardsmen parades along The Mall before the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Guests arrive at Westminster Abbey in the hours before the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton. (Phil Noble / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. The Right Reverend Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster holds the wedding program, titled the Order of Service, before the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, walk together in Buckingham Palace in central London
    John Stillwell / PA / Pool via Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (44) Relive Will and Kate's royal wedding in photos - Ceremony
  2. Image: Royal Wedding - The Newlyweds Greet Wellwishers From The Buckingham Palace Balcony
    Oli Scarff / Getty Images
    Slideshow (31) Relive Will and Kate's royal wedding in photos - Royal fans
  3. Image: Ex-pats In Kabul Watch Royal Wedding
    Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
    Slideshow (18) Relive Will and Kate's royal wedding in photos - World reaction
  4. Image: Police officers walk down The Mall before the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton in central London
    Dylan Martinez / Reuters
    Slideshow (9) Relive Will and Kate's royal wedding in photos - Security
  5. Colin Cotter
    Slideshow (13) Punching bag? Fishing net? New uses for an ex's wedding dress
  6. Walter Thompson
    Slideshow (14) Legos, Muppets and more awww-inspiring proposals

Explainer: 12 of the world’s wackiest weddings

  • Image: Newlyweds Batman and Wonder Woman, also known as Neil Vaughan and Sharon Wetherell
    Adam Gerrard  /  SWNS

    Your wedding day is supposed to be your day — one of the most pivotal days in your lives.

    Right?

    If that’s really true, then why not join the throngs of couples who are choosing to live out wild, fanciful or downright silly dreams in conjunction with their nuptials? Doing so could have a practical benefit: It could save you big bucks. In these recessionary times, many have been shunning lavish weddings and opting for unique ones instead.

    Here are 12 recent examples of utterly wacky — and utterly memorable — weddings. Click “next” at the left to start your (strange) trip down the aisle.

  • Holy matrimony, Batman!

    Image: Newlyweds Batman and Wonder Woman, also known as Neil Vaughan and Sharon Wetherell
    Adam Gerrard  /  SWNS

    For those of you out there who always sensed that Batman and Wonder Woman would make a great couple: It’s happened!

    On July 31, Sharon Wetherell and Neil Vaughan of Devon, England, tied the knot while all dressed up as their favorite superheroes. As “Wonder Woman” theme music blared, Wetherell, 40, made a grand entrance at the ceremony wearing blue hot pants, a red corset, flashy boots and a tiara and veil that cost her about $160. The groom’s face-obscuring Batman costume set him back about $290.

    The couple’s friends and family also got gussied up as superheroes. Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Robin, Poison Ivy, Lara Croft, the Joker, Bananaman and the Incredibles were all in attendance.

    “Our wedding was absolutely amazing and it cost us less than some couples would spend on just the dress,” Mrs. Vaughan said in the British newspaper The Daily Mail. “We were not allowed to see each other’s costumes before the big day, but when I did see Neil he looked fantastic as Batman. ... It was such a great day.”

  • No cold feet at T.J. Maxx wedding

    Image: Lisa Satayut and Drew Ellis at their T.J. Maxx wedding
    Bill Pugliano  /  AP for TJ Maxx

    Who doesn’t get excited about the prospect of bagging a bargain? Bride Lisa Satayut decided to combine that feeling with her excitement over bagging her beau.

    Explaining that T.J. Maxx is her “happy place,” Satayut married Drew Ellis in July in the size 8 shoe aisle of a T.J. Maxx store in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

    The bride — a self-proclaimed “'Maxxinista” — wore a strapless white chiffon gown, with long black gloves and bright green gladiator-style sandals. A widened aisle, vine-covered arch and white chairs with red bows highlighted the traditional ceremony that included string music, display-dodging cameramen — and curious shoppers who stopped bargain hunting long enough to watch.

    Related video: With this bargain, I thee wed at T.J. Maxx

  • Happy ogre after

    Image: Vivian and Tracey Williams with dressed up wedding guests
    Wales News Service

    Tracey and Vivian Williams, a happy couple from Wales, tied the knot in May by dressing up as two of their favorite movie characters: the green ogres Shrek and Princess Fiona. Tracey Williams, 33, told the British newspaper The Daily Mail that the themed wedding idea suited her and her new husband perfectly.

    “Our friends always used to say we looked like the characters when we went on nights out,” she said. “Even though Shrek and Fiona are both green ogres, we didn’t take it offensively because we like them so much.”

    The couple actually saw a “Shrek” movie on their first date and have been loyal fans ever since. To get ready for the big day, the pair covered themselves in green body paint and affixed fake green ears to the tops of their heads. Tracey donned a bright red wig to complete the Princess Fiona look, and Vivian sported checked trousers.

    The Williams’ wedding guests got in on the fun, with the best man dressing up as Monsieur Hood, the bride’s father going as Lord Farquaad, the bride’s mother playing the Fairy Godmother and the maid of honor playing Snow White.

    Related story: Pair dress as Shrek, Fiona for wedding

  • Kiss the bride – if you can find her

    Image: Marvin Hunter and Kim Silver in a tree stand
    Mike Moynihan
    An Iowa couple whose passion for bowhunting encouraged Cupid's arrow to strike wore camouflage to blend in with the wooded backdrop at their treetop wedding.

    Kim Silver, 42, dressed in a silk gown made by camouflage specialists Mossy Oak, and her 61-year-old groom, Marvin Hunter, was dressed in camo shirt and pants at the June nuptials.

    They said their vows atop a tree stand hunting platform. The bride and groom occasionally punctuated the ceremony by firing arrows at targets. Hunter said the couple had always joked about getting married on a tree stand. Silver said the pair hunt together so much that the camo wedding "just seemed like the right thing to do."

  • A viral dance sensation

    Image: Wedding party dancing down the aisle
    TODAY

    Most couples wait until the reception before breaking out into the Funky Chicken on their wedding day, but Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson figured, why wait to unleash their unbridled joy?

    The 28-year-olds floored their wedding guests by having their whole bridal party — including seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers — boogie down the aisle in a choreographed dance more at home in a Broadway musical than in a somber church.

    Groomsmen split into sides as Heinz did a somersault in front of the wowed crowd — and the gown-clad Peterson quickly followed, shaking her hips to Chris Brown’s “Forever” while pumping her bridal bouquet into the air during the June 20, 2009, ceremony in St. Paul, Minn.

    The wedding party rehearsed the dance for just 90 minutes.

    Of course, some things are too good to keep to yourself. And when Kevin posted the wedding dance routine on YouTube, it quickly became a viral hit, with hundreds of thousands of people sharing in the couple’s novel way of showing their matrimonial joy.

    Related video: Wedding party boogies down the aisle

  • 110 bridesmaids set world record

    Image: Jill Stapleton with 110 bridesmaids
    TODAY

    Some people think five or six bridesmaids are a lot. But how about 110? Jill Stapleton, an Ohio gymnastics teacher, set a world record in June when she invited all of her young students to be her bridesmaids at her wedding.

    “We were actually going to go away for our wedding but this wedding day is more important to a lot of these little girls and boys back here that have made my dreams come true,” Stapleton said. “This is our dream wedding.”

    Stapleton married Chad Greenhill, a Marshall University cheerleader. The previous record was 90 bridesmaids.

  • An aisle of light bulbs, grills

    Image: Carolyn Weatherly and Audwin Mosby
    Courtesy Audwin Joaquin Mosby
    The bride wore white. The guests wore orange smocks.

    A Southern California couple wed in June in front of more than 100 guests at a Home Depot store where they work.

    The wedding party for 56-year-old Carolyn Weatherly and Audwin Mosby, who’s 55, marched down an aisle of light bulbs, grills and paint to the outdoor garden section.

    A wedding arbor and stage had been built from the store’s lumber and supplies.

    The bride said the store in Lake Forest is like a second home and her colleagues are like family.

    "I feel awesome," Mosby told the Orange County Register. "This is the best thing that has happened to me in a long, long time."

  • Sweet, sugary love

    Image: Jared and Jerri Guinther eating doughnuts at wedding
    Sara Terese Heise

    Voodoo Doughnut, a wildly popular indulgence with two locations in Portland, Ore., has an entire menu dedicated to wedding services. That menu includes a variety of matrimonial options, such as this “Legal Voodoo Wedding” package for $200: “Legal wedding ceremony, coffee & doughnuts for 24 people, 700-square-foot chapel, free parking & doughnut centerpiece.”

    The doughnut shops have married off more than 300 couples, sending hearts racing with both romance and sugar intake. Pictured here are Jared and Jerri Guinther enjoying their sweet nuptials.

  • Jaws of love

    Image: April Pignataro and Michael Curry in shark tank
    WNBC
    Talk about taking the plunge. April Pignataro and Michael Curry opted to be lowered in a steel cage into a shark tank to exchange their wedding vows in June.

    The bride wore a white wetsuit; the groom wore a black one. The experienced divers spoke their vows into radio headgear transmitted to a minister outside the tank while about 75 guests watched from behind glass. The 120,000-gallon tank at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, N.Y., includes sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, moray eels and a massive Queensland grouper.

    Both Pignataro and Curry said the concept of a shark tank wedding thrilled them. “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,” Pignataro told NBCNewYork.

  • 'I do' in Aisle 2

    Image: Jack Frankel and Fina Nikolos at wedding
    Mike Stocker  /  SunSentinel.com
    One couple decided to tie the knot where they first met: Whole Foods Market.

    Jack Frankel, 75, and 67-year-old Fina Nikolos met in May 2009 at the supermarket in Coral Springs, Fla. It had been raining when Frankel noticed a beautiful woman pass him. Nikolos offered to walk him to his car with an umbrella. He later thanked her by taking her out to lunch.

    In January 2010, the two returned to the place where their love began for a small wedding ceremony in the store's cafe. About 40 people attended the ceremony as store employees and customers watched and smiled. The couple held each other close during the ceremony, shedding a few tears. They also exchanged emotional vows. Nikolos was too overcome to finish hers aloud.

    According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, this was the first time customers wed in a Whole Foods Market in Florida, though employees have gotten married there.

    Frankel told reporters that the most irresistible thing about his bride is her eyes. “She looks at me with those Spanish eyes and I melt,” he said.

  • I now pronounce you bride and ghoul

    Image: Jack Holsinger and Connie Spitznagel
    Alicia Castelli  /  The Chronicle-Telegram

    Why don’t more bridal magazines suggest this as the perfect theme for an October wedding?

    In October 2009, Jack Holsinger, 61, and Connie Spitznagel, 44, dressed as pale-faced vampires for their Halloween-themed ceremony at a haunted house near Cleveland, Ohio. Holsinger arrived in a coffin inside a hearse, and the coffin was carried to the altar by six pallbearers. Minister Greg Kopp was dressed as Jason in the "Friday the 13th" movies. After the vows were exchanged, he ordered Holsinger not to kiss his new bride but instead to bite her on the neck.

    The couple vowed to love each other and haunt and howl at the moon together. Like typical mortal couples, the groom said he just wanted his bride to be happy.

    “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.”

  • Will you Mario me?

    msnbc.com

    Proving that love is a game that two can play — a video game, that is — Bobbi VanZante and Elijah Slagter of Pella, Iowa, decided on a unique theme for their wedding: Super Mario Brothers. Slaget, the groom, will dress as Mario, of course, and VanZante will be costumed as the lovely Princess Peach.

    The father of the bride will be dressed up as Bowser, even though he’s the villain of the Mario universe. “It’s kind of part of the game,” VanZante explained to NBC’s Megan Reuther. “Bowser and all his buddies steal Princess Peach.” So who better to give the bride away to her groom?

    VanZante’s mother, Lori Mullen, was good-natured about the Mario madness, which included such details as making turtle shells out of bicycle helmets. “It fits both of them,” she said. “It’ll be a fun day and good remembrance.”

    Reached for comment inside a Nintendo gaming system, the real Mario commented: “It’s a-me, Mario!”

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