RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – You’ll probably get a kick out of Russellville’s latest eclipse proposal. On April 8th, 2024, during the total solar eclipse, the city’s soccer complex will be transformed into a mass wedding venue.
Russellville’s Total Eclipse of the Heart Festival is offering couples who happen to be in love “to the moon and back” a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with most expenses free of charge.
Over 20 couples were signed up for the mass wedding as of July 24 according to the festival organizer. The stars aligned for Kelly Romine and Matthew Buffington who already live in the host city.
“We’ve been contemplating where we wanted to get married when we want to get married, and it’s like why not?”, Romine said.
“Who can say they got married during a solar eclipse? And get that perfect picture of the moon like a ring”, her fiancé added.
Total Eclipse of the Heart Festival organizer Rodney Williams said all anyone interested needs to do is register online and buy a festival ticket. Guests will also need a festival ticket, currently priced at $100.
“We will provide all the necessary things except the ring and their clothes. We’re providing the wedding cake, something to toast with, we’ll have the decorations, and the flowers. We’ll even pay for their $60 marriage registration fee”, Williams explained.
Williams also said there will be photographers and live music performed by Beatles tribute band Liverpool Legends. The band will even be playing music for the first dance live. It is one small price for a couple, but one giant leap for their honeymoon funds.
“It’s not that we haven’t been procrastinating because it’s not what we want. It is expensive. It is so expensive”, Romine said.
“That was the hurdle. The cost of all of it, and then this happened”, Buffington said.
According to all things wedding website TheKnot.com, the average price of an Arkansas wedding in 2022 was $21,000. The nationwide average was $30,000. If people want to take part in this opportunity, they may want to act fast.
Williams who also organizes the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Russellville said he’s expecting 100 couples, but they could handle 200.
There are special offers for the first 100 couples who register online, including the festival paying for their marriage license, gift certificates, and discounts from local businesses to feed and furnish the couple.
“I expect we’ll exceed 100, and I think this will be the largest mass wedding in the history of Arkansas”, Williams said. “This is going to be a big deal. Probably the biggest part of our three-day event will be the Elope at the Eclipse.”
In the two weeks since its announcement over 20 people have already signed up. Plenty are from inside Arkansas. Others so far are from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois. The mass weddings will be officiated just before the four minutes of total solar coverage, giving their honeymoons a brand-new meaning.
“It never felt right until we found out about this, and once in a lifetime. Let’s do it,” Romine emphasized.