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Best of the Best: Free Weddings

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Albert’s Diamond Jewelers

Schererville, IN

Valentine’s Day engagements are a welcome tradition for jewelers, of course, that can bring a flurry of post-December sales. At Albert’s Diamond Jewelers, a family-owned company in Schererville, IN, Valentine’s Day weddings have become a tradition, too.

This year, on the day before Valentine’s Day, a couple came to Albert’s and bought a $14,000 engagement ring. When they announced plans to wed at city hall, says Albert’s president Joshua Halpern, he was thrilled to be able to tell them, “You can get married here tomorrow!”

“So they ran down to the courthouse to get a wedding license and came back the next day.”

Sixteen couples in all got married in the store this year on Feb. 14.
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A Sentimental Gesture

Josh Halpern’s parents, Fred and Donna Halpern, were married 47 years ago on Valentine’s Day, making the holiday a sentimental one for the whole family. The tradition of holding free wedding ceremonies at the store began in 1998 when Fred and Donna decided to renew their wedding vows there. “We’re in the love business and what better way to help our customers share their love than to offer free wedding ceremonies on the national day of love, Valentine’s Day?” Josh Halpern says.

“I thought if we could expand it to include pieces from other jewelers, it would make a bigger impact and raise more for Massey,” says Fornash.

EXECUTION

A Beautiful Place to Wed

At 21,000 square feet, the company’s flagship store is one of the largest jewelry stores in the U.S . The store has 120 employees, but Halpern says the nuptials are planned and organized by just three staff members. Much of the responsibility includes finding partners to donate everything needed for the weddings — cake, music, flowers and champagne for the newlyweds and their guests.

Couples don’t even have to buy their rings at the store to be eligible for a wedding, which can be arranged in as little as a day.

Although there is no dress code, most brides wear wedding gowns or cocktail dresses, and their grooms dress formally, as well.

“It’s a beautiful setting,” Halpern says, “We built a beautiful chapel in the store. It’s much nicer than going to the justice of the peace.”

Albert’s sets up about 50 chairs for spectators, and the weddings are open to the public. Wedding parties in the store have brought along as many as 75 people.

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Fostering Relationships

Halpern has witnessed more than 300 couples wed in the store over the years. Most years, 20 to 30 couples sign up for an in-store ceremony.
Couples do not have to buy their rings in the store — or anything else — to be eligible to get married there, but the event does build loyalty and foster relationships.

“The community loves it,” Halpern says. “People who were married here come back and thank me on Valentine’s Day. It’s overwhelming the gratitude we see for doing things like this.”

Do It Yourself: A Place to Marry

Halpern says several of his jeweler friends have tried Valentine’s Day wedding ceremonies and it’s worked well in a variety of stores.

He suggests jewelers make friends with local media when planning this kind of event.

“We work with the local newspaper and call them about everything we’re doing,” he says. “We always have reporters and photographers in our store, and we make sure we spend money with them. We advertise. There’s still a real need for newspapers, especially in a community like ours.”

Assign a couple of staff members to coordinate partnerships with other local businesses, who may be delighted to provide music, photos, champagne and flowers.

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Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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