Fifteen minutes is all you need to tie the knot at Shotgun Ceremonies Wedding Chapel.
Recite your vows, kiss the bride, sign the papers, smile for the camera, and out the door you go, with a commemorative photo and two mismatched shot glasses in hand.
“Take a shot at love—it’s sort of our theme,” said co-owner Bronwen Stevenson, adding the advice is a literal one. “At some point in the day, they have to take a shot.”
The Pioneer Square shop, which touts itself as Seattle’s only Vegas-style wedding chapel, is no church. Inside, a toy shotgun hangs on the wall alongside pictures of Marilyn Monroe. And the shop’s two owners, who are often seen sporting brightly-dyed hair, are open to just about any idea.
“We’ve had people come get married from Vegas, because this is a lot more fun, which is so funny,” said Stevenson. “We really try to make this the least like a stereotypical wedding as possible.”
For some, the chapel’s price, $275 for a basic wedding, is the selling point. Others like the stress-free simplicity. But most are drawn to the chapel’s unconventional approach, says Stevenson.
“They just don’t see ‘traditional’ as something that appeals to them,” she said.
The chapel offers what Stevenson describes as an “interactive ceremony.” The couple is asked on-the-spot questions like where they met, and what hopes they have for a life together.
Not all weddings are performed on site. The chapel offers a pub crawl option, which involves performing the ceremony in piecemeal at as many as five different bars, and a haunted saloon option that includes a reception at the reportedly haunted Merchants Café.
Then there are the special requests.
The shop owners once performed a ceremony at a tattoo shop as the bride and groom were getting their rings tattooed on their fingers.
“And the gal, because it was so painful, she was cussing the whole time,” said Stevenson, laughing. “I’m trying to keep my composure, and the mother’s yelling at her!”
Another couple asked the pair to join them in wearing Yankees jerseys for the ceremony, which was performed at a Starbucks café.
“Everybody had to be drinking Starbucks,” said Stevenson.
“And,” added co-owner Sara Qureshi, “they had a talking parrot on their shoulder!”
In perhaps the most unusual ceremony performed at the chapel, a woman married her Pee Wee doll in a non-legal wedding.
“She is in love with her Pee Wee doll,” said Stevenson, matter-of-factly.
Anything goes at the Shotgun chapel, say the owners.
“We’ve really tried not to judge whatever walks in that door,” said Stevenson. “We just take whatever preconceived thoughts (we had) and go, ‘You know, this is their day, and we don’t know what they walked through in their past. And we’re just going to make this about them.’”
Stevenson and Qureshi marry many out-of-towners, often atop the Space Needle. They also see many young military couples.
“Secret elopements—we do a lot of those,” said Qureshi.
And sometimes they’re called on to perform jail weddings, with the bride and the groom bound to opposite sides of the dividing glass.
“Stories and stories. Man, it’s just incredible what people have gone through to get to that decision,” said Stevenson.
The two have performed countless weddings since they launched their business three years ago. But they say witnessing love has yet to grow dull.
“We still cry at weddings,” said Stevenson.
“It makes us feel good on the inside,” said Qureshi.