After finishing a long Door Dash shift, Harley Gray would often drive to the Wallhaven Swensons Drive-In at 40 S. Hawkins Ave. and join his future wife and fellow Door Dasher, Holly Yater, for a late meal before heading home.
Two years later, on the day of their second anniversary, Gray would marry his beloved at the same location of their numerous late-night rendezvous on Akron’s west side.
“It’s crazy how life comes full circle and as strange as it is to get married at Swensons, it makes perfect sense to us and we are excited for the opportunity to be able to do something like this,” Gray said.
Akron Municipal Court, in partnership with famed Akron staple Swensons, performed a series of micro-weddings for eight couples who were looking for a something a little off the beaten path. Judge Ron Cable officiated.
The festively decorated restaurant, complete with a Christmas tree, served as the backdrop for the ceremonies. Couples were given goodie bags containing Swensons paraphernalia and snapped photos with Cable and Swensons workers.
“It’s amazing what the Swensons staff has done for decoration and to make this day feel special — and my wife and I couldn’t be happier,” Gray said.
Stacie Goosman and Tom Marcisonas, who met earlier this year in Canton, were among the couples tying the knot Friday. The two met at Plant Et Art’s 30th anniversary celebration in June; both are friends of the gift shop’s owner, Deloris Angeli.
“[Angeli] really helped my friend and I out with our subscription box business, and when I heard she her business was having it’s 30th anniversary party, I knew we had to go, and oddly enough, I would go on to find Tom there that night,” Goosman said.
Goosman said they will hold a traditional ceremony at her friend and business partner’s house next spring, but they wanted to perform the civil ceremony before the end of the year. When they went to register, they were delighted to discover their court-officiated ceremony would become a destination wedding at one of Akron’s most well-known eateries.
“When we heard the wedding was at Swensons, we both looked at each other and thought that would be so much fun to experience a ceremony there — and we were just prepared to have the ceremony right at the courthouse,” Goosman said.
Swensons hops into role of wedding attendant
Swensons CEO Jeff Flowers said the company’s involvement in the celebration elevated as plans evolved.
“We were first considered as a possible food donation source for these wedding ceremonies, and I’m glad we became a venue for these celebrations,” said
“We had everyone on the team design different props and decorations for this event; everyone on the team was so excited and looking forward to being part of this event.”
Appointment times were on a first-come, first-served basis — with couples needing to obtain a marriage license from the Summit County Probate Court and pay a cash fee prior to the ceremony, according to the Akron Municipal Court’s website.
Cable, who has officiated at theme wedding days for the court in a variety of places, thanked the Swensons staff for serving up yet another distinctive setting.
“I’ve had a lot of wonderful memories over the years of officiating these events; not only is this a great way to engage the public and the community, but it’s also wonderful to see the smiles and happiness on the couples faces,” Cable said. “People normally aren’t the happiest when they are standing in front of a judge, and I’m just happy for this opportunity.”
The court’s other recent venues for local destination weddings have included Jilly’s Music Room, Cascade Locks Park, the Akron Civic Theatre, Summit County Historical Society’s Perkins Stone Mansion and the Hower House Museum on the University of Akron.
The Hower House will feature the last Akron Municipal Court-led wedding event of the year from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Pandemic expands menu of creative options for ceremonies
Nicole Hagy, community outreach and grants coordinator for the Akron Municipal Court, noted how the court had previously hosted off-site wedding ceremonies only on holidays and special occasions, beginning with Halloween 2016 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the expansion of these wedding ceremonies to outdoor venues, starting at Springfield Lake in May 2021. Hagy believes these destination weddings have grown more popular in the months since these new iterations of court-led weddings.
“We’ve found that people have responded positively to these outdoor ceremonies and enjoy the ability to utilize these beautiful and historic venues — more venues have reached out for opportunities to host these ceremonies as well which is always welcome,” Hagy said. “Swensons is one of the more iconic establishments in Akron, and we are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with them for these ceremonies.”
Reporter Anthony Thompson can be reached at email@example.com