Mark your calendars now for next year’s Valentine’s Day – that is, if you want to do something different and a little bit crazy in the heart of New York City’s Times Square. Renew your wedding vows for free! Declare your love publicly on the red steps of Duffy Square while a few of your closest friends and hundreds of tourists look on!
Renew Your Vows. Go On. It’s Free.
Valentine’s Day in our family has traditionally been only mildly acknowledged with kisses, hugs, a card and a dinner out every few years. This because in general, we’ve always felt that we should say we love each other any day of the year and not just on a Hallmark holiday. But this year I decided to try something different and surprise my husband with a bit of a romantic gesture. Signing up through Eventbrite, we received two free tickets to stand on the famous red steps of Duffy Square and renew our vows in public. We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary year and saying “I do” again was something I’d considered previously, but here was a chance to do it with minimal fuss and in the midst of people from around the world who would be enjoying themselves doing the same thing.
This Valentine’s Day brought with it some record cold temperatures in NYC, but that was not going to stop us, or the folks behind the event — the Times Square Alliance. We bundled up and headed to celebrate a “tour-de-love” that was taking place despite inclement weather.
We checked in at a staging area, where others were able to also sign-up on site for the chance first come, first served. We were issued blinking heart rings and buttons that served as our entrance to the steps themselves. Earlier in the day in the same area, couples were making surprise proposals using a series of announcements on jumbo-trons and billboards over Times Square. Others were getting married in the space. On the steps already were more than a hundred partners of all ages and backgrounds. Some had dressed for the occasion in dresses or veils, and others, like us, were simply dressed to fight the cold.
But First Some Broadway
We were first treated to live cast members from the Broadway Show “An American in Paris” singing a live rendition of ‘S’Wonderful,’ for us. What a sweet treat! (And kudos to the piano player who performed the entire song without gloves. Way to sacrifice for the art.)
Hollis Kam was the vows Officiant. He has been performing wedding ceremonies since 2007 and has been the Weddings in Times Square Officiant for the past three years. As we went to say “I do” all over again, Kam had us face each other and we repeated after him as he took us through a series of vows that could/should apply to just about anyone. A few couples had children in tow with them who also joined in. And of course, just around the time we were getting to the best parts, a police vehicle with sirens blaring made its way behind us. Gotta love New York City!
The vows were sealed with a kiss and more music. I watched as a few husbands/partners gave flowers or rings to their other halves and others broke out in dance. Sure, at that point the dancing was helping to warm us, but I have a feeling that there would have been plenty of dancing regardless. For me, it was simply fun being there with my husband and being part of an event filled with people who were with others they loved. And being in a location that really goes unrivaled in its uniqueness.
Also offered when you sign up for the free tickets are discounts and specials for experiences in the area, including “The Ride,” “love-related” hotel packages, dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area, or seeing a Broadway show.
Displayed by the steps is a Heart Design Installation that changes from year to year. This year it’s the ‘Heart of Hearts’ a large, mirrored circle of gold-tinged hearts. The Alliance chooses proposals submitted by architecture, design firms and artists for varying pieces that serve as a fun background for photos and a sweet piece of art in the area to display.
If you’re in the area in mid-August, you can stop by during the Times Square Kiss-In, held every five years on the anniversary of the end of World War II. The Times Square Alliance encourages hundreds of visitors to re-enact the famous kiss captured on the cover of LIFE Magazine of a returning U.S. sailor and a nurse. It actually took place August 14th, 1945 on Military Island, found at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets.
And of course, if you’re a New Year’s fan and don’t mind being cooped up with a million or so others, the New Year’s Eve Ball drop in Times Square is perhaps the Times Square Alliance’s biggest annual project providing fun and spectacle!
So, mark your calendar now and perhaps we’ll see you next Valentine’s Day in Times Square.