ELKHART — Christopher and Stephanie Watson have been together for 12 years. They were high school sweethearts.The couple moved to Elkhart from Chesterfield, Mo., a few years ago and formed their family here.
It just made sense to them to say "I do" on Friday, Feb. 14; something they had looked forward to for many years now.
The couple was one of seven couples who got married at Trinity United Methodist Church in Elkhart for free on Friday, Feb. 14.
"At first I thought there was a catch, like we'd have to donate or something," Christopher Watson said. "Now I think it's one of the nicest things a church can give out to the community."
Christopher and Stephanie Watson had tried planning for their wedding before, but postponed it numerous times because they didn't have money or because of family or health issues getting in the way.
When Christopher heard about Trinity United Methodist Church offering free weddings, he called Stephanie, who was at work at the time, and proposed.
"We planned a couple times and something would always come up, so we jumped on it," Stephanie Watson said. "It's been 12 years, so it's time."
After signing up for the wedding, the couple had two weeks to plan everything. They decided to throw a small reception for Friday night.
The idea of performing free wedding ceremonies on Valentine's Day came to lead pastor Mark Dicken, who shared it with senior associate pastor Karen Bray.
The church started announced the free weddings about a month in advance.
Bray said none of the couples that signed up for the weddings were members of the church.
"They are from the community," she said. "Many just delay getting married for various reasons, but a reason can be that if you are not a member of a church it can be expensive."
During the wedding ceremony, Dicken talked about the importance of committing to a relationship through marriage. A concept that, needless to say, Stephanie Watson agrees with.
"I don't think you should take the step unless you're prepared for what it brings. It's not a half-in half-out situation. It's an all-in or nothing. It's definitely sacred and it's important that if you take the step you are absolutely positive it's the right step for you."