Church bells will ring Sunday at a Tacoma church with at least 11 couples crowded around the altar.
Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church will celebrate National Black Marriage Day by offering a free ceremony for people who want to get hitched but can’t afford a fancy wedding.
Eleven couples have signed up. Some will be newlyweds. Others are renewing their vows.
“We just want to let others know, the more the merrier,” church spokeswoman Tara Young said.
Despite the holiday, couples do not have to be black to participate.
It’s the first time Allen A.M.E. Church is marking the occasion with a large wedding ceremony.
The Rev. Anthony Steele, who has led the church since November 2014, did something similar at previous churches and suggested the congregation bring the tradition to Tacoma.
He estimated couples can save at least $1,500 in wedding expenses by exchanging vows in the group.
Church parishioners will gather three hours early Sunday to worship so the weddings can take place at 11 a.m.
Couples will be given the option to jump the broom, a tradition dating to the times of slavery when blacks could not legally marry.
A reception with cake will follow.
Anyone wishing to be married in the church Sunday must have a marriage certificate and email Steele by Saturday at firstname.lastname@example.org. The church is at 1223 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma.
Brides and grooms will be asked to arrive an hour before the ceremony begins.
Black Marriage Day was started in 2003 by the Wedded Bliss Foundation. It has grown with events in 30 cities to 300 nationwide, according to its website.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653