For some, the notion of a mass wedding might conjure discomforting images right out the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. But that's not the case for dozens of local gay and lesbian couples who have registered to exchange vows at an upcoming mass wedding in the District on March 20.
GLBT Wedding Services by Event Emissary is offering Saturday's daylong affair under the title "Our Time Has Come," to be held inside the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium downtown. The mass wedding is scheduled for 4 to 5 p.m. Private ceremonies will be offered between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and a reception will run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Mike Wilkinson, director of wedding services at Event Emissary, says he's hoping to gather at least 168 couples for the group ceremony in order to land a spot in Guinness World Records 2011.
''We have been approved by the Guinness folks to attempt to break the record for 'Most couples married at a single venue in a 24-hour period,''' he says.
Though Wilkinson did not disclose exactly how many couples have signed up for the event, he emphasized that Our Time Has Come is about more than breaking a Guinness record.
''We want everybody to be able to be able to celebrate marriage equality, but also we want to make history twice in one day. We want all these couples to come together in this event in a way that is rarely done, and will probably be remembered for a long time.''
Amy Sokal and Alex Khalaf are just one of those many couples. Sokal says she thinks the event will be intimate and personal despite the number of people involved.
''It kind of feels still like it is just the two of us," she says. "But we can share it with a bunch of people. There's so many people and so many things going on, you kind of get to share it on an enormous community level. At the same time, because it's not necessarily all of your family and friends and people you know, it still is very personal because you really have an opportunity to only see each other.''
Rev. Bonnie J. Berger, a lesbian and an ordained interfaith minister from Takoma Park, Md., is scheduled to perform the ceremony.
''I think everybody has their way of wanting to [get married],'' she says. ''If folks want to be surrounded by members of the community and share the marriage ritual with community, it works for them. I'm happy to be a part of it.''
For more information about Our Time Has Come, including associated costs, or to register, call 202-596-6391 or visit eventemissary.com.