The New York page of the SantaCon website is cluttered with clip art, widgets, hyperlinks, highlighted text, and costume ads. Among all the noise though, one little red box manages to distinguish itself. “Get Married by Santa!” it says. “[Special offer for santas]”
Initially horrified by this idea, we reached out to the officiant, Gary Wapnitsky of Married by Gary, to find out if this is actually as bad of an idea as it sounds.
“I sort of equate it to a Las Vegas wedding, but instead of getting married by Elvis, you’re getting married by Santa Claus,” Wapnitsky says. This year will be his second officiating marriages at the holiday-themed bar crawl.
Last year, before God and 300 santa-suited witnesses, Wapnitsky legally married six couples at Hell’s Kitchen’s swanky Hudson Terrace.
“I think we have about three or four couples lined up for this year,” Wapnitsky says, including one couple who will be renewing vows they took at SantaCon 2012.
Wapinsky isn’t playing around — he can’t and won’t marry any two wasted Santas who stumble up sure they’ve just met the man or woman of their dreams. “We need to make sure, by state law, that their marriage license is dated prior to 11 o’clock on Friday. If the license is not filed by tomorrow, I can’t legally marry them.”
On Saturday morning, he’ll pull the couples aside, check their IDs, help them fill out their paperwork, then, “Once I sign my name on those pieces of paper, they are technically married.”
“Depending on the couple, I may marry them in private and then I do a big sort of production on stage, in front of everybody. Santa comes out, he does his holiday wishes and greetings to the couple,” Wapnisky says. “It’s actually fun, it ties in with them being at SantaCon, it being a romantic day. That entire part takes about ten minutes.”
This year the ceremony will take place at an undisclosed church in the East Village around 11:30 a.m. It will be the first stop on the SantCon route.
The rest of the day will be just like any other wedding reception featuring knife-fights, puking, public urination, and pizza face plants. “Most of these people that go — they’re not necessarily bringing their families, but they are bringing their friends with them,” Wapnitsky says.
“You just have to realize for the couple: it’s their day. So, you have to sort of go on what they would like to do.”
Awww. Gary Wapnitsky, our hearts just grew three sizes each. Still, if anyone out there is thinking of getting married at SantaCon we implore you to first consult this flow chart.