Here come the brides: Free wedding for unmarried couples



Posted on October 26, 2009 at 9:03 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 12:04 PM

Both widowed, Marguerite Jearnigan and James Norris decided to make their close friendship official on Sunday night.

Here Come the Brides

Jonathan Betz reports

Related links:
  • LINK:
  • MORE:
Search Video:

DALLAS - This wasn't the wedding Michelle Muldrow had envisioned - sharing the spotlight with 17 other brides.

But for her and most of the other couples at the Concord Church ceremony, any kind of marriage wasn't even in the picture.

So why get married now? "Because we're trying to live right," Muldrow said. "We're living together."

Nearly all of the participants at the mass wedding Sunday night had not been husband and wife.

Last month, Concord Church Pastor Bryan Carter made his flock an offer: A free wedding for any unwed couple living together.

"It's as if no one wants to get married anymore; they want to enjoy all the benefits of marriage without the commitment," Carter said. "We're trying to change that."

Indeed, studies show that in the last three decades, the number of unwed couples in the U.S. has grown six fold. Nearly six million umarried straight couples live together - one out of ten.

"I always knew it was wrong, but I still did it," Muldrow said.

Nearly everything for the elaborate ceremony was donated, from the dresses to the rings.

Originally, 30 couples signed up for the free wedding, but only 18 made it down the aisle, including the show-stopper couple, Marguerite Jearnigan and James Norris.

Both are in their late 70s and widowed. The long-time friends are now officially a couple.

"Our relationship became more intimate, and we decided to do what was right - to get married," Norris said.

"It's nice to be blessed with a friend and a husband," Jearnigan added.