By Michelle Graff
Helzberg Diamonds associates who are ordained will wear this pin. The retailer said each of its 200-plus stores will have at least one person on-site who can perform a legal wedding ceremony.
Kansas City, Mo.—One doesn’t have to read too many wedding announcements to notice a trend—more couples today are eschewing traditional clergymen and women in favor of having ordained friends or relatives officiate their weddings.

It’s just one of several ways in which younger couples are breaking with bridal traditions, and Helzberg Diamonds is taking note.

After introducing a placeholder engagement ring last year, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned jewelry store chain announced its latest innovation Tuesday—it has ordained its employees so it can conduct weddings in any of its 200-plus stores.

Beginning today, couples interested in getting “Hitched by Helzberg” need only bring a marriage certificate, a witness (or witnesses) and themselves into any Helzberg location during regular store hours and an ordained associate will marry them for free, no purchase necessary.

The retailer said it has ordained “hundreds” of its approximately 1,700 associates nationwide through an exclusive partnership with the Universal Life Church (ULC). The associates’ ordination credentials are valid for up to two years, and Helzberg plans to offer the service “as long as there is customer interest,” a company spokeswoman said.

She said the goal is to have at least one to two ordained associates available at every store. Interested couples are encouraged to schedule an exact time to be married so the retailer can make sure someone who can conduct the ceremony is available.

In areas where the local government does not recognize a marriage done by a ULC-ordained minister, Helzberg will enlist a third-party officiant.

20191002 Hitched at Helzberg signSome of the signage that appears in malls for “Hitched at Helzberg,” a new program in which Helzberg Diamonds employees who are ordained ministers can marry customers in-store

More information for consumers about the program is available on (Helzberg notes on the website that marriage laws vary from state to state and provides a link to another website where consumers can check to see if anything else is needed in their state.)

Prior to launching its in-store wedding program, the retailer conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers ages 23-38 and discovered what is already widely known about millennials: they want to break free from longstanding traditions and do things their way.

Among the survey’s findings were:
—91 percent of couples would consider eloping;
—63 percent of those already married would elope if they could do it again;
—56 percent who hope to get married said they would prefer a religious figure not officiate the wedding;
—59 percent of couples elope to save money, while 46 percent do it to avoid having to plan a ceremony and 43 percent do it keep the ceremony more intimate; and
—70 percent think it’s acceptable for women to propose to men.
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Also factoring into Helzberg’s decision was that it already had a handful of ordained associates on staff, a few of whom had performed marriage ceremonies upon request in stores, Chairman and CEO Beryl Raff said.

“Inspired by these stories, we wanted to become the destination that could, and would, officiate for these couples in a relaxed and comfortable environment,” she said.

“Hitched by Helzberg” follows the introduction of the “Will You?” ring as the chain’s latest innovation in bridal.

The ring is a $50 silver band that acts as a placeholder. Those looking to pop the question can use it and then, if the person says yes, shop for a traditional engagement ring with their spouse-to-be.

Helzberg said its first wedding ceremony is scheduled for Friday at 3:33 p.m. (the bride, who is a numerologist, picked the time) at its store in the Concord Mills Outlet in Concord, North Carolina, just outside Charlotte.

And the retailer already has a second on tap, slated for Oct. 17 at its store in Greenwood Park, Indiana.

Couples getting married at the store will receive a custom celebration kit, which has a commemorative marriage certificate plus two custom champagne flutes and a bottle of Moёt Chandon Rosé.

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