Mass weddings are actually performed in many religions, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and perhaps most famously by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, as many as twenty five hundred couples tie the knot all at once. They are not new.
The wedding ceremony has always been a balance between public and private. It celebrates the love that a couple has for each other and at the same time declares to the community that they are committing fidelity to each other. It allows them to have sex without being censured by the community and insures that any children will be viewed as legitimate heirs of any estate that might be available to them.
Cost is often the main factor. Many mass weddings are subsidized by churches, governments and sometimes by wealthy donors. Mahesh Savani has been “giving away” fatherless brides in mass weddings in Ahmedabab, India for the last fifteen years. Last year two of the grooms were actually his sons.
Before hosting events at the 2016 Olympics the Maracanazinho Area in Rio de Janeiro the local government sponsored the mass wedding of 2000 low income couples who could not afford to pay for their own wedding. The event was presided over by volunteer judges. The couples were also blessed by a Catholic Priest and an Evangelical Pastor and had an estimated 12,000 guests.
On a smaller scales, but no less appreciated by the newlyweds the Palm Beach County Clerk married 35 couples, for free, on Valentines Day 2017.
Not all governments are willing to subsidize mass weddings. Both Zimbabwe and Nigeria have cancelled or banned mass weddings in the last few years, seeing them as either a security risk or a way that unqualified “marriage officials” take advantage of poor couples.
Mass weddings conducted by Rev Moon of the Unification Church are unique in that unless they are renewal of vows for already married couples, the church often matches the couples. Making the personal political, Rev Moon matched 2500 Korean members of the church to Japanese members in 1988. It was believed that these unions would promote unity between the two nations. No follow up study has been done on how long those marriages lasted or if it increased unity in the region.
Does standing with thousands of other couples make the event more spectacular? Is being surrounded by so many other people willing to commit to matrimony give you greater faith in the institution? Would you get married in a stadium or a mega church or on a golf course with dozens or even thousands of other couple?
Please enjoy the gallery of mass weddings from around the world.