WELCH — When Brett and Jenni Mattson got married on Valentines Day 2007, they had a small ceremony. Six people attended their living room wedding — including the officiant and bride and groom.
“We weren’t interested in a huge wedding at the time,” Brett said.
When the couple renewed their vows Thursday at Treasure Island Casino, they had a slightly bigger ceremony.
Nearly 80 couples stood with them for a Valentine’s Day mass wedding. After the event, 26 newly wed couples now share a wedding date.
The casino co-hosted the event organized by KDWB radio. Dave Ryan, host of the Dave Ryan Morning Show, officiated.
Steve Latart, show producer, lined the couples up in order to allow them to walk down the aisle with their partners.
“You have a number … line up by that number,” Latart told the crowd. “It’s just like kindergarten.”
Ryan, who earned his ordination online, has presided over about a dozen weddings for friends and relatives. For one Star Wars-themed wedding, he wore a Darth Vader costume.
Ryan said Thursday was his most memorable officiating experience as 26 couples gave their vows for the first time.
The couples filed into a ballroom one at a time. Ryan issued instructions from a stage to the mass of couples, addressing them as “partner on the left” and “partner on the right.”
“It’s not very personal, I know,” Ryan said.
Following a mass exchange of vows and rings, Ryan presented the new couples and about 50 renewed couples.
“By the power of love and your commitment to each other, I now declare you partners in marriage,”
Despite the levity of the mass wedding, Ryan said he took his role seriously.
“It is a big deal — my name is going to be on the marriage certificate when their grandchildren look at it someday,” he said. “We want to make it fun, but I do take it seriously.”
Couples played a game of bingo following the ceremony then enjoyed a champagne toast before having a couples’ dance.
For Amber Brown and Joe Snethen, of Rosemount, the ceremony had the right balance of levity and solemnity for the occasion. The couple decided to forego a large wedding this summer to instead spend money to build a house together.
“We wanted to begin our life together in a concrete way,” Snethen said.
“I didn’t really want to plan a big wedding,” Brown said.
Fans of Ryan’s show, the couple heard about the mass wedding and entered their names to be part of the event. They had a wedding party of 13 at the Thursday event and plan a reception at their new home in July.
One couple standing to renew vows has been together for 35 years. They met in St. Louis Park in a car crash. Marla Williamson was rear-ended in traffic. Her car was pushed into the back end of the car driven by her future husband, Greg.
The two discovered they worked for the same employer but had never met. Greg offered her rides to work since Marla’s Chevrolet Vega was totaled.
For newlyweds Brown and Snethen, they are looking forward to future anniversaries.
“Who knows, maybe if they do this again next year, we’ll renew our vows here,” Brown said.