WASHINGTON – Mike Johnson and Jeni Jones usually celebrate Halloween with their annual haunted house, but last year the holiday took on new meaning — a wedding date.
A Halloween wedding seemed natural for the Baltimore city couple, who met at Jones’ haunted house in 2001.
“That’s how we met, that’s where he proposed to me, so that would be the venue for when we got married,” said Jones, 31, a health researcher.
“What else could we have chosen?” Johnson, 35, a media specialist, said.
Johnson and Jones aren’t alone in choosing a theme, rather than a traditional, wedding. Theme weddings are on the rise, wedding planners say, especially in October when the seasonal colors and crisp, sunny weather provide the perfect backdrop for couples.
Johnson and Jones were married Oct. 27, 2007, at the Old State House in historic St. Mary’s City. Instead of sending the usual haunted house and Halloween party invitations, friends and family received black and orange Web invites depicting a broken angel statue and playing eerie owl hoots. “I don’t think too many people that knew us were surprised by it,” Jones said. “Coworkers and some people who I am less close with or didn’t know as well, I would tell them and they would just kind of look at me and say, ‘You guys are crazy,’ but you know, I don’t think it was too shocking.”
Theme weddings are growing more popular throughout the year, said
Monica Browne, owner of Uniquely Designed Affairs in Upper Marlboro. “It just adds more to the personalization,” Browne said. “Some of them choose things based on where they went on their first date or where they went on vacation together. It allows brides and grooms to bring things you wouldn’t imagine into the event.”
Halloween weekend is a popular wedding date, though most couples still go the traditional route, said Trisha Cranor, owner of Working Brides in Germantown.
“It’s the last weekend of October, it’s usually pretty comfortable outside,” said Cranor, who is working a traditional wedding for this Halloween weekend.
Cranor has planned theme weddings on occasions other than Halloween, including a South Beach theme and a chocolate theme.
“When I was searching for stuff on the Internet, I was surprised at how much I could find,” Jones said. “So, I didn’t feel like I was all that unique.”
The Halloween loving couple didn’t need much help planning their event — years of putting on haunted houses provided them with enough decorations for the State House.
“It was easier. From just talking to friends who have gotten married in the more traditional way, I thought it was easier,” Jones said.
Decorating may have been easier than your traditional wedding, but perhaps creepier.
A bloody corpse hung from a banister, skeletons sat on chairs and spider webs adorned the walls. Tombstones poked out of the ground, one with a crack running up the middle read, “RIP Jen and Mike.” Guests brought jack-o-lanterns for a contest and the pumpkins were placed throughout the venue.
When it came time for the vows, Johnson waited for his bride in a homemade skeleton mask, skeleton gloves, a top hat and a long black jacket.
Jones walked down the aisle in a black dress, holding a bouquet of thin black branches topped with puffy-orange eggplant, called a pumpkin tree. Underneath her sheer black veil she wore a skeleton mask, matching her groom.
“We had decided pretty early on that (masks) was something we were going to do,” Johnson said. “We actually took them off with each other as part of the ceremony.”
Johnson wrote the ceremony, at which their friend, Justin, a Buddhist monk, officiated. The nuptials included Halloween, pagan, Buddhist and secular traditions, such as tying the couple’s wrists together in a neo-pagan symbol of unity. A friend also wrote a poem for the occasion, “A Haunted House Romance.”
Most guests dressed up, including the wedding organizer and bus drivers. Only a few “lazy people” didn’t get fully into costume, Jones said.
“I think, actually, more people dressed up for our wedding than usually do for our Halloween parties,” Johnson said. The costume party made the wedding atmosphere more relaxed and everyone got into the spirit, he added.
This year, Johnson and Jones celebrated their anniversary with their traditional haunted house and Halloween Party at home in the Hampden section of Baltimore. Many wedding guests were actors in the production.
“So many people told us it was the most fun they ever had at a wedding,” Johnson said. “It was definitely the most fun we ever had.”