Going to a Festival ... and Gonna Get Married - OZY | A Modern Media Company
Sing. Drink. Get married. Weddings are the new offering festivals might need In a post-virus world.

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Sing. Drink. Get married. Weddings are the new offering festivals might need In a post-virus world.

By Joshua Eferighe

  • Festivals are turning what happens organically — people finding or proposing to loved ones at venues — into a business model.
  • You can do your wedding dance on the stage where your favorite musician just performed, or sign walls with them.

The original plan was to have the wedding ceremony outside the gates of M3F Fest. Jake Altersitz, 37, and Katie Senzit, 31, live in Arizona, and the 15-year-old gathering is held in Phoenix. But once M3F (McDowell Mountain Music Festival) learned of their plans, it helped the couple organize a wedding ceremony at the event, this past March. It was a “dream wedding,” says Senzit.

Globally, festivals have had to postpone or cancel plans for 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most regular festivals recognize they’ll need to put in place measures to convince visitors that they’re safe spaces, even after the virus fades. Some are offering online festivals. But at a time the very future of physical festivals is under question, an emerging trend is promising to offer an unlikely incentive for at least some potential visitors: a chance to enjoy great music, eat awesome food — and get hitched to the love of your life.

While one-off proclamations of love have long been routine at festivals, a growing band of event companies are now beginning to formally offer a chance to get married at their venues, hoping to draw more couples like Altersitz and Senzit.

[Couples looking for wedding destinations] are getting sick of the hotels and the barns and all the other venues that have just been there for a long time.

Morgan Bergeron, events coordinator, Fest Valley Events

In 2018, the Electric Forest Festival, held in Rothbury, Michigan, introduced wedding ceremonies at the festival chapel — 12 applicants are selected for each of its two weekends. Texas festival Euphoria started with wedding packages in 2017, and Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas has been offering them since 2013. Couples usually have to get their license beforehand, and naturally, being that it is a festival, the guest list will have restraints but it’s a way to extend the good vibes of a music festival to your own party of two.

18th Annual Electric Daisy Carnival - Day 1

Electric Daisy Carnival performers stand witness as Elvis Presley impersonator Bryan “EDC Elvis” Mills officiates at a wedding between Hayley Parsons and John Anderson during the 18th annual festival in Las Vegas.

Source Gabe Ginsberg/Getty

“We started offering weddings in 2013 because of the number of requests we received from our fans,” Insomniac, the producers of Electric Daisy Carnival, said in a statement. “Their demand has only increased over the years.”

So what’s driving the interest in weddings at festivals?

According to Morgan Bergeron, who recently became the venue and events coordinator for Fest Valley Events in Wisconsin to handle the influx of wedding requests, people are just looking for a change. “They’re getting sick of the hotels and the barns and all the other venues that have just been there for a long time,” she says.

Four years ago they started offering weddings on the days they held their rock and country festivals. Last year, they began hosting weddings the rest of the year too. “Social media has shown people that you can get married everywhere and people want something different and unique,” Bergeron says.

It was that search for a unique and special wedding that led Altersitz and Senzit to their M3F plan. They learned that the band Tame Impala would be playing a series of California shows in early March, and figured a road trip through the desert following their wedding at M3F — to see the band two days later — would make a great honeymoon. They thought of having it as a courthouse ceremony or in a meeting room attached to the festival park, but everything changed when Senzit’s mom emailed the festival and got the green light. 

“It all came together super last minute,” Altersitz tells me.

True, festivals can be loud, packed and even dirty, but the trick, say organizers, is actually leaning into those aspects and planning for a ceremony of epic proportions.

At Fest Valley Events, the wedding package comes with getting ready for the day in the production room your favorite artist might have used in the past, and signing the walls they signed. You can have your first dance on the same stage where artists just finished performing. The company, which has been putting on rock and country festivals for three decades, says that most of their wedding packages are purchased by regulars. “I see a lot of our fans that have been coming to our festival for years and met their significant others here, so the grounds have become like a home to them and a place where the magic happens every time they come back,” Bergeron says.  

Jesse Crouch, a river-tubing store owner in Austin, Texas, spontaneously married his now wife at Unbroken Spring — a temporary community celebrating art and music inspired by Burning Man — because he says they were “feeling it” and it “felt right.”

“I think that people are getting married at these things because they feel like they’re surrounded by their real family there, maybe more so than they relate to their friends and family outside of the burner world,” he tells me.

Maybe you like the white dress, black tie and catered affair. It’s possible a church ceremony is mandatory for you and yours. To each their own. But there is something to be said about raging all day and then pledging yourself to the love of your life and barely remembering it the next day. Isn’t that true romance?

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