For the 17th year in a row, Albert’s Diamond Jewelers is offering couples free weddings in their flagship store in Schererville, Ind., on Valentine’s Day.
Couples are provided with music, a bridal bouquet, champagne, a wedding cake, professional photographer, and an officiate, all free of charge. They need only bring their marriage license.
The tradition started in 1998 when owner Fred Halpern and his wife Donna renewed their wedding vows in the store.
Their son Joshua Halpern, now president of Albert’s Diamond Jewelers, spoke to JCK about how the first wedding happened.
“To celebrate my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, a friend who was a judge said, let me marry you in the store on Valentine’s Day, and anyone who wants to share your wedding day, we’ll marry them as well. And that first year we married six other couples beside my parents as they renewed their vows,” Halpern says.
Since that first year, Halpern says they have held 15 to 35 weddings on Valentine’s Day. “This year we will have 20 individual weddings,” he says.
The ceremonies are open to anyone in the community. “Some are clients, some are not clients. They don’t have to purchase their rings from us, it’s just something we do for the community,” he says. “It’s couples who weren’t going to have a big wedding, maybe were just going to go to city hall. We have several judges who donate their time, a local floral shop sets up a beautiful little chapel and donates flowers for both the bride and groom. I have a local photographer who will provide a photo, a videographer who provides a video, a baker who donates a small cake for each couple, and local restaurants donate dinner so they can have a special wedding night dinner.”
Halpern says the people in the community show up to watch the weddings, some of which are between two people in jeans in T-shirts, others feature fancy bridal costumes and entourages of dozens of friends.
Halpern says it’s not about promo—it’s about giving back. “We’re givers, we like to give back to the community. This is just one of the many things we do, but we’re giving to the community all year long,” he says.
For example, right now the store is offering complimentary watch batteries, inviting customers to donate to a local Down syndrome charity in lieu of paying for the batteries. “A lot of people will donate more than what the battery costs, and we are going to end up contributing $15,000,” he says.
Every October the company holds an auction for a multiple sclerosis charity. Last year it raised and donated $181,000.
But the wedding ceremonies are special, and they are well-known in the community.
“We’re in the love business, so what better way to help our customers share their love,” he says.