First came one-stop shopping, and now, from a jewelry retailer based in Kansas City, Mo., comes one-stop marrying.
Helzberg Diamonds is offering a service starting Oct. 2 that gives couples who buy wedding rings at any of its 216 stores nationwide an opportunity to be married by sales associates recently ordained — with Helzberg’s blessings — as Universal Life ministers.
“I think it’s a whole lot of fun,” said Beryl Raff, the chief executive and chairwoman of Helzberg, adding that customers wanting to get married need only to produce their marriage license.
“We’re all about celebrating life’s most important moments, and getting married is right up there at the top of that list,” Ms. Raff said. “We are here to serve the customer and offer as many services as we can, and we do think we will be performing quite a few weddings at our stores.”
Over the years, several couples have been married at various Helzberg locations, Ms. Raff said. Five years ago, a couple from England who frequented a store at the Florida Mall in Orlando while on vacation, walked into the store with their own marriage license and officiant in tow.
“That’s the kind of relationship we have developed with our customers,” Ms. Raff said. “So there’s a history that has helped us arrive to where we are today.”
There’s also a survey Helzberg Diamonds conducted over the summer of 1,000 young adults ages 23 to 38. Ninety-one percent who hoped to get married said they would consider eloping. The top three reasons were to save money, avoid having to plan a ceremony, and keep their ceremonies more intimate.
Also, 56 percent said they preferred to have someone other than a religious figure officiate.
“Our recent research has been telling us that people are looking for more modern ways to create their own, new wedding traditions,” said Wendy Gibbone, a divisional vice president for store operations at Helzberg.
“That’s what really helped spark this idea,” said Ms. Gibbone, who was present at the Florida Mall ceremony, working then as a regional manager.
“That event was pretty special and certainly unique,” she said. “The store manager and assistant manager served as their witnesses, and we put them in the center of the store in a busy mall. And if you can imagine, all of these people are walking in and looking happily at the couple, who were suddenly surrounded by about 30 people, all of whom applauded when the couple were pronounced husband and wife.”
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By the start of its promotion, Helzberg plans to have most of its 1,700 associates ordained through the Universal Life Church.
Fully aware that the Universal Life ministry is not recognized in some parts of country — including Virginia and Tennessee — the company announced in a statement that it had secured a “third-party officiant” who would be legally empowered to marry in these places.