A quadruple wedding

Religion stories often offer viral potential, especially if you can combine it with puppies, smokin' hot wives or Justin Bieber. Combine religion with the wedding industry and you have quite the potential marriage.

Just last week, Mollie was suggesting room for deeper angles on the wedding industry, and lo and behold, here comes the Los Angeles Times with a compelling religion-marital story. The headline, "With free wedding, church removes a hitch to getting hitched" teases the reader into the story:

The final road to the altar for the four couples celebrating a group wedding in Long Beach on Sunday was a bit unconventional.

Most of the newlyweds, like high school sweethearts Angel Lewis and Christopher Woodbridge, had lived together for years and were raising families.

Many churches strongly advise against/discourage/preach against couples living together before marriage, so this piqued my interest.

But the couple's plans to marry kept getting stalled, partly because saving money has been a struggle while raising five children. And last year, wedding bands they had purchased were stolen from their home.

So it was a godsend for them when the pastor at Parkcrest Christian Church, Mike Goldsworthy, announced during his sermon two weeks ago that the church would throw a free wedding and reception for any unmarried couples in the congregation who were living together.

Four couples took the church up on its offer, exchanging vows individually with three pastors officiating. It's unclear whether there was a sermon that tied it all together or what. Most of the couples had about 20 family members and friends attend, and the church provided individual cakes at a joint reception, the story suggests.

Sunday's church-financed weddings were a first for Parkcrest, Goldsworthy said. His offer was partly motivated by couples' reluctance to marry because of the costs involved. But he added he also wants members of his congregation to adhere to the Bible.

"We believe that God's plan for a couple is not to be living together, but marriage," he said.

Goldsworthy said the church might offer more free weddings in the future. "I already have one other couple who is ready to marry if we do this again," he said.

Overall, the story is a great way to show how at least one church is dealing with the skyrocketing costs of weddings. It could have gone into further detail about Parkcrest Church, which is a multi-site church of about 2,500 congregants. For instance, do they require premarital counseling or anything to be married by one of their pastors? If they had two week's lead time, I'm guessing no, but I'm also wondering whether they make any stipulations for couples wanting to be married in their church.

Still, as couples are weighing the costs of their dream wedding vs. paying their mortgage, churches are stepping in. In come cases, perhaps it takes more than two to tango.

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