Lifestyle & Belief

No plans for this Valentine’s Day? How about a mass wedding?


Thousands of couples take part in a mass wedding at Cheongshim Peace World Center on February 17, 2013 in Gapyeong-gun, South Korea.


Chung Sung-Jun

This Valentine’s Day why not take part in a trend sweeping the globe: Mass weddings.

They may not warrant a style piece in The New York Times yet, but the past few months have seen ceremonies welcome thousands of couples into matrimonial bliss at a time.

From 2,000 couples getting hitched en-masse in South Korea, to Nigeria playing matchmaker during state-sponsored gatherings — collective weddings suddenly seem to be all the rage.

South Korea

More than 2,000 couples dressed in bridal gowns and tuxes descended on the global headquarters of the Unification Church in Gapyeong, east of the capital Seoul, on Wednesday. They tied the knot in a mass wedding ceremony — only the second since the death of the church's controversial founder Sun Myung Moon.

While the ceremonies started out small in the early 1960s, they have exploded in recent years with a record of 21,000 tying the knot in the Olympic Stadium in Seoul in 1999.

If that isn't enough to melt your heart, just listen to Moon’s teachings. According to Agence France-Presse, he preached that romantic love led to sexual promiscuity, mismatched couples, and dysfunctional societies. Yikes.

For that reason, Moon personally matched all the couples, preferring cross-cultural unions in which the partners shared no common language. They often met mere hours before tying the knot.

Pakistani brides attend a mass marriage ceremony in Karachi late March 26, 2013. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)


The story of mass weddings in Pakistan is a little more heartwarming than Moon's blind date weddings. For impoverished women living in Pakistan, chances at marriage remain remote without a dowry.

Sayeban, an organization that helps educate and mentor young women, donated dowries, allowing 70 women living in Bagh-o-Bahar in Pakistan's Punjab province to finally get married. Since 2000, the charity has sponsored around 79 such mass weddings, with its largest drawing 1,400 people.

Noor Abid, who started Sayeban, said unmarried women in Pakistan often become victims of abuse and lead lives of uncertainty. While Sayeban’s core mission is to empower women through literacy programs, the organization also wants the women it works with to have the opportunity to choose their partners.

On wedding day, each bride is dressed in a traditional red shalwar kameez dress and jewelry. The woman is given household items and 4,000 Pakistani rupees to help the couple start their lives together.

Grooms dressed in white robes and red caps attend a wedding feast at a mass wedding in Nigeria on December 19, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images)


In an effort to combat a mushrooming divorce rate and a rising number of births out of wedlock, authorities in northern Nigeria have decided to play matchmaker.

The mass wedding program, which was launched in 2012 by the Kano state government and Shariah police, aims to enforce Islamic law by helping single people pair up. The Nigerian government provides each bride with a dowry and utensils. Apparently, the ceremonies are a good way of marrying off poor bachelors who, unable to afford a dowry, would seek out prostitutes instead. Swoon.

In December, more than 1,000 couples got hitched at an event held at the main mosque of Kano.

Queen Latifa officiates over a mass wedding at the 56th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2014. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

United States

Finally, in a tale of pop-culture meeting social justice, the 2014 Grammys Awards saw 34 gay and straight couples get married. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ LGBT anthem “Same Love” played in the background, while Queen Latifah officiated the nuptials. 

The show-stopping ceremony, which The New York Times described as uniting couples “gay, straight, old, young, of many races and many colors,” was a controversial display that set the social media sphere on fire.

Lewis said the weddings “will be in our minds the ultimate statement of equality, that all the couples are entitled to the same exact thing.” His younger sister got married on stage to her boyfriend.