You Can Get Married for Free at River House at Odette’s on Sunday

The deadline to apply for a Pennsylvania marriage license is Wednesday.

River House at Odette's wedding

Mitchell Bloom (left) and Stephen Tornetta were married at the Equal Dignity Pop-Up Nuptials in November. The River House at Odette’s event takes place March 21st. Photo by Haley Richter Photography; rainbow arch by RAM Floral

Folks, they’re doing it again: Life-cycle celebrant Alisa Tongg, Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba of Clover Event Co., Rebecca DePasquale of RAM Floral, and myriad other Philly-area vendors involved in the Equal Dignity Pop-Up Nuptials have come together to host a free one-day-only civil ceremony event on March 21st, this time at the newly opened River House at Odette’s. (Read more about the hotel here.) Spots are still available, but take note: There is a three-day wait for a Pennsylvania marriage license, so your deadline is Wednesday in order to get the documents you need to say “I do” in time.


River House at Odette’s in New Hope. Hotel photos courtesy of River House at Odette’s

While the program is offered for all couples who wish to say “I do” in the Commonwealth, it was initially born out of the fight for marriage equality for LGBTQIA+ couples. Tongg’s first two pop-ups took place following the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the latest occurred in November at Pomme in Radnor — providing an option not only for those concerned about their rights, but also for duos whose Big Days were impacted by the pandemic. (Read more about that here.)

“Up until last year, with the changes in the Supreme Court, there hadn’t been a sense of urgency that same-sex unions and families might not continue to be protected equally under the law,” says Tongg. “Then you throw in the pandemic and weddings being canceled, courthouses closed, and many people’s access to health care tied to employment and marriage. The first Equal Dignity Pop-up Nuptials event Thanksgiving weekend helped a lot of people find peace of mind and security in their legal unions.”


The outdoor ceremony space overlooking the Delaware River.


A ceremony backdrop in the outdoor space. Photo by Magdalena Studios; backdrop by Shannon Wellington Weddings

River House at Odette's wedding

The hotel is offering an overnight package for couples who say “I do” during the pop-up.

Here’s how it works: In addition to obtaining your license within the three-day window (here’s the Philly how-to, though all valid Pennsylvania licenses can be used), you’ll want to pre-register for a time between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. here. (Walk-ins will be accepted based on availability.) Couples can bring up to eight witnesses to partake in their nuptials, which will be presided over by Tongg, humanist celebrant Cynthia Manchester, or Donna Forsythe of Lehigh Valley Celebrants and will be held in the outdoor ceremony space overlooking the Delaware River or in the Rhapsody ballroom. You can bring your own vows, rings, glasses for stomping, brooms for jumping, and other traditional components. You’ll also be asked to fill out an online COVID questionnaire before arriving and to follow all health and safety guidance.

As for the wedding-day details, a number of local vendors have signed on. To name a few: RAM Floral and Allium Floral Design will provide blooms for the custom bouquets and other flowers. Entertainment will be provided by Penn Strings. Nuage will provide linens, and photographers Brittney Raine and J.Flynn will capture all the special moments. (And Shindig Bespoke created the day’s branding.) River House is providing a champagne toast and giving couples and their guests (10 attendees per group) the opportunity to dine at the on-site Odette’s afterward.

Pomme free wedding event

Celebrant Alisa Tongg is among the officiants for the March 21st event. Photo by Kate Neal Photography

Want to make it a mini-moon? River House is offering an Equal Dignity Package (from $245) that includes an overnight stay following your wedding, complimentary valet parking, a welcome plate of Pride-inspired treats, and a $20 donation made in guests’ names to New Hope Celebrates, which supports the local LGBTQIA+ community.

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