City vows to renew vows for 1,000 couples

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Here come the brides -- all 1,000 of them.

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Organizers of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary celebration next year are planning the "World's Largest Wedding Vow Renewal" in February, on the weekend before Valentine's Day. They hope to attract 1,000 couples to a non-denominational ceremony at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland and get the city into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Doing so would knock Orlando, Fla., out of the record book for hosting a vow renewal for 243 biker couples during Orlando Bike Week in March 2002. Organizers plan on flying in a Guinness judge from London to oversee and ratify the event.

So what does a wedding vow publicity stunt have to do with the 250th anniversary of the naming of Pittsburgh in 1758?

Two of the themes of the 250th celebration are attracting reunions and homecomings to the city and underscoring family and community ties. Getting a thousand couples to reaffirm their vows is a way to do both.

"It's something that comes straight out of the word 're-union.' I was surprised no one had thought of it already," said Kitty Julian, marketing director of Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, who came up with the idea. "Pittsburgh is all about love of family, tradition, nostalgia ... This is exactly in that neighborhood."

Ms. Julian's idea came from a brainstorming session for the "homecomings and reunions" committee of the Pittsburgh 250 commission, a project of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. It was announced at a conference planning summit yesterday.

"Our goal was to bring people to Pittsburgh, to bring them home. What could we do to reach out to different constituencies, to bring them back?," said lawyer Jeffrey Letwin, the reunion committee chair. "This was an idea that fit right into the family environment that we think Pittsburgh is so well known for."

The committee also plans a parade of leading Pittsburgh sports figures and a reunion event for leading Pittsburghers from the film industry.

Pulling off the wedding stunt will not be simple. Couples will have to pre-register this fall, and will have to bring along their wedding certificates. Renewing wedding vows is not a legal, religious or civil action, so proof of marriage is strictly for the record-book officials' count.

The date of the ceremony is Sunday, Feb. 10. Those wishing to preliminarily register for the event may contact Carnegie Museums marketing assistant Leigh Kish at 412-578-2571 or

Tim McNulty can be reached at or 412-263-1581.


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