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The weird and wonderful world of elopements

Austin Cross Jun 19, 2015
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If the economy is sluggish, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the wedding business. Alan Katz started his 24-hour elopement chapel 11 years ago, and business has been booming ever since.

Great Officiants in Long Beach, California, sees a steady stream of weddings daily, “and they come in for a variety of reasons,” Katz says. Price and convenience are two major selling points. Because Katz can perform services and dispense licenses in-house, his company has established itself as a bona fide “one-stop shop” for couples hoping to tie the knot. “I’m doing more weddings than ever before. I’ve assembled a team of 33 officiants to do weddings because I couldn’t handle them all,” Katz says.

Over the years, Katz has helped more than 5,000 couples tie the knot, but there is one service that gives him a special joy: same-sex couples. “I specifically love marrying couples that have been denied the right to marry in the past,” Katz says. “When I see couples walk into my office who have been denied all their lives and get them to say ‘I do,’ it’s the most amazing feeling.”

Katz likes to think of his services as the cure for the common wedding. With a little advance notice, you can be married by Elvis, Austin Powers or even Marilyn Monroe. Other popular themes include “Harry Potter” and “The Princess Bride.” With a new “Star Wars” movie slated for release later this year, Katz is already buying new costumes to meet the expected spike in demand.

As one of the most creative wedding chapels in California, Katz says, couples come from miles around to tie the knot. Katz says business is good, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing. “In tough economic times, people get married, and in affluent times, people get married. What does change is the size of the wedding and the perks.” And at about $300 a pop, couples aren’t too afraid to splurge a little.

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