“We’re millennials with student debt,” said Mr. Poms, 29, who is a graduate student studying public health at the University of Maryland. “We treated it as a joke.”
He paused. “Then we treated it not so much as a joke.”
In any large city, many young people rely on online promotions to explore sights and dine at a discount. Ms. Wynn, 27, who works in social media marketing, has discovered dinner deals, dance classes and murder mystery parties through Facebook events and email lists. And the dating site OkCupid brought the couple back together after they had first met in 2012 at the Capital Area Food Bank, where she was an intern and he was an outreach coordinator. The couple decided to go on a date to the Bracket Room in 2014, right around the time Ms. Wynn was considering deleting the dating app.
“There was just a lot of jerks right in a row,” she said, recalling a particularly rough winter on the Washington dating scene. “If I had deleted my account properly I never would’ve connected with him.”
The date led to instant romance, with Mr. Poms admitting that he had a longstanding crush on Ms. Wynn. They were officially engaged on Jan. 8, after staging a series of engagement photos — one in front of a waterfall, one underwater, one while kayaking — during a vacation in Puerto Rico.
Trusting the internet had worked out so far, they reasoned. So how bad could an online promotion for a free wedding be?
The couple saw the promotion and thought they could have an unconventional ceremony while still keeping some traditional elements, Ms. Wynn said.
They married in the upstairs event room of the pizzeria at 6:30 p.m., with the maximum allowed 40 guests. The couple did keep one or two traditional touches: They exchanged rings — a white gold band for Mr. Poms, and a white gold band with a cubic zirconia for Ms. Wynn. And Mr. Poms did not see Ms. Wynn until she walked into the room arm-in-arm with her parents, who are divorced but who supported the unconventional wedding plan, including the short guest list. As it turns out, getting married in between East Coast blizzards has its benefits.
“Every time somebody’s plane got canceled, she’d move someone up the list,” the bride’s mother, Sandy Turman, said.
Ms. Turman had knitted a black bolero that her daughter wore over her white sequined Badgley Mischka dress, a borrowed purchase from Rent the Runway. This was another testament to the couple’s flexibility: Ms. Wynn’s first choice, a strapless, floaty rental from Allison Parris, fell through at the last minute. Going with the flow felt a bit unnatural to Ms. Wynn, who is such a planner that, shortly after beginning to date Mr. Poms, she plugged his phone number into her younger brother’s phone. “David P. Future Brother-in-Law,” the listing read.
“This is just, for the record, not my personality,” Ms. Wynn said of the rushed affair.
During the short ceremony, the restaurant’s sound system, which had been blasting Fetty Wap, was silenced. The couple read their own vows: “I realize that my love is like Pi,” Mr. Poms said to his bride at one point, “because it goes on indefinitely.”
Marrying on Pi Day did not hold a particular significance to this couple, but earlier in the day, Rafael Hernandez, a 30-year-old law student, and Nyasha Hamilton, a 28-year-old database analyst for the District of Columbia Public Schools, pushed back their ceremony start so they could get married in front of their 20 guests at 3:14 p.m. on the dot. Ms. Hamilton is both a math major and an instructor for the local chapter of Women Who Code.
During the six-minute wedding, Ms. Hamilton thanked her husband for always supporting her crazy ideas, “like getting married at &
The pair, who grew up in Atlanta, did not always know they would end up getting married — especially here, in a pizza place, among displays of black-and-white calla lilies, custom-made pizzas and sprinkle-speckled Momofuku cakes, all provided gratis. The road to this ceremony took compromise, with Mr. Hernandez putting in for a transfer at his job as a project manager at a fabrication business to join Ms. Hamilton in Louisiana, where she finished a master’s degree program in statistics at Louisiana State University.
They are also high school sweethearts — their first date was at a pizzeria in Atlanta — but, wanting to be sure about each other, they took a short break from their romance along the way.
“It didn’t last very long,” Mr. Hernandez said. “After she finished her master’s degree she said, ‘You’ve always wanted to be a lawyer. Go for it.’”
The couple moved to Washington together, and were engaged in mid-February. This meant their guests were mostly friends, including Mr. Hernandez’s classmates from American University’s law school, who could make it to the ceremony on short notice. But Latisha Hamilton, the bride’s younger sister, traveled from Georgia for the occasion.
“I’ve known him since I was 6 years old,” the bride’s sister said. “I’ve been waiting for them to get married for the longest time.”
Colin Salazar, a friend of the couple’s, met Ms. Hamilton while at Georgia State University and said he never thought he would see her after college. But Washington has a way of throwing all types of people from all kinds of places together again. He supported the couple’s decision to have a weekday, midday wedding.
“‘Impulsive’ has kind of a negative connotation to it,” Mr. Salazar said. “But they just live their lives in the way that everybody should.”
Pushing back an hourlong ceremony and reception by 14 minutes to honor Pi Day crunched their reception time. As their 3 p.m. slot ended, Ms. Hamilton, a calm bride who wore a Calvin Klein dress she found on a rack at Marshall’s, was hastily cutting slices of cake for her guests with seven minutes left on the clock. The next stop, Ms. Hamilton said, was to go to a nearby tapas restaurant, La Tasca, “and keep on celebrating” over a few bottles of wine. For a honeymoon, the couple, who live in the Takoma section of Washington, said they were thinking about getting a hotel room somewhere downtown.
As the couple left, passing another couple and their wedding party waiting in the hall, Ms. Hamilton said something about her husband and noticed how strange the word sounded on her tongue. Mr. Hernandez, standing amid gifts wrapped in polka-dot paper, did the same thing a few seconds later.
“That was my first time saying it,” Mr. Hernandez said of the W-word. “I need a drink.”
Throughout the day, the staff at the pizzeria got the setup and breakdown of each wedding reception down to about three minutes total, wiping down tables and replacing cakes with a pit crew’s speed. Travis Crytzer, a manager of a local Gucci store who also has an officiant business called Tie the Knot DC, hovered off to the side after each ceremony. Mr. Crytzer, a Universal Life minister, was happy to be paid in pizza to officiate the marriage of each couple, tucking signed marriage licenses into envelopes as the day went on.
“I’ve probably eaten a whole pie today,” Mr. Crytzer said.
By the end of the day, as Mr. Crytzer was in what he called the “homeward stretch,” he prepared to greet Brandi Crawford, the bride in pink whom Ms. Wynn had greeted outside. Ms. Crawford, a 29-year-old social worker, had traveled to Washington from Chicago to marry her fiancé, Cody Jarrett, an opera singer. Their wedding was set for the last slot, scheduled for 8 p.m. The bride stood in the lobby of the pizza parlor, waiting for the rest of her guests to arrive and clutching a white ring pillow. The free ceremony had been a no-brainer for the couple, who, like the others, are grappling with student debt.
“We’ve been together for seven years and we’ve been trying to plan,” Ms. Crawford said. “God makes a way.”
She made her way upstairs.
Continue reading the main story