Some people spend years planning the perfect wedding. From the dress, to the flowers, the venue and the color scheme, every detail is meticulously selected for the special day.
And then there are couples like Stephanie Torres and Tim Porter. The Coney Island couple had two weeks to prepare for their wedding.
But when Torres, 40, who works as a snake charmer in Coney Island, took the arm of her stepfather to walk down the aisle on Tuesday, she looked as elegant and elated as any bride. Never mind that she knew few of those watching the ceremony or that the rumble of the subway and firetruck sirens competed with the song she chose for her wedding march. This was a true New York City wedding, on the biggest stage any performer could ask for: Times Square, on Broadway, on Valentine’s Day.
“Times Square is very versatile, one minute it’s a public square, the next it’s a non-denominational, very secular place for people to get married,” said Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance, organizers of the event.
Surrounded by friends, family, the media and numerous strangers, Torres and Porter, 32, were one of four couples chosen to have their wedding ceremony at the Crossroads of the World as part of the annual Love in Times Square event sponsored by the Time Square Alliance. This year, four weddings and three surprise proposals were scheduled, though with the press tipped in advance and an overwhelming number of cameras pointing at one person, the element of surprise was sort of diminished.
But the cameras and onlookers took nothing away from the experience for Torres and Porter, and in fact seemed to enhance it. For them, the wedding was the perfect affordable alternative to their planned City Hall nuptials, and it came at the right time.
“Valentine’s Day was my choice,” said Torres, who wanted to get married on a day her husband would never forget.
Torres and Porter, who have a 2-year-old son, Gunner, have been together for six years. Until recently, the thought of getting married was one that Torres feared and continuously postponed. But when her sister suddenly passed away in November, Torres realized it was time to put her wedding anxieties aside.
“That tragedy reminded me that I can’t wait forever,” said Torres.
Torres and Porter were selected from thousands of applicants who were up for saying “I do” in the heart of New York City. With only two weeks notice, Torres and Porter had to scramble. They ordered a suit and gown from Amazon – each costing $150 or less – and both surprisingly needing no alterations.
They had few other costs or details to deal with. The Times Square Alliance covers most expenses – the flowers, the carpet and the setup. The Alliance even has its own in-house officiant.
“The officiant is actually our director of H.R.,” said Tompkins.
The officiant, Hollis Kam has married some 25 couples, most of them in Times Square, since being certified to perform weddings in 2008. And while he wouldn’t have chosen such a public venue for his own nuptials, he loves sharing this experience with couples like Torres and Porter.
“It reminds me of the vows I made to my spouse,” said Kam.