By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - The groom wore a bow tie with his T-shirt. The bride slipped a garter over her jeans. As they recited their vows in front of a beer booth, thousands of strangers clucked their way through the chicken dance.
For Stephanie and Jason Jared, it was an elopement to remember. So much so that the 30-something Parma, Ohio, parents of four plan to renew their wedding vows next weekend the same way they started married life - at MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest.
"This year, for our 10th anniversary, I said, 'Let's go back and renew our vows,' " Stephanie Jared said. "So many couples we know had big elaborate weddings and they're divorced now. But we jumped in the car with no showers, no nothing, booked to Kentucky, bought our marriage license, and look at us now. We have the best memories of our wedding, and we're still very much in love.''
The Jareds' love-fest fits right in with organizers' plans for a more traditional festival Sept. 5-7, as the MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest marks its 25th year. "We wanted to add some German authenticity to the celebration,'' said festival chairman Gary Dirheimer. "What better way to do that than with some weddings? After all, that's how Oktoberfest got started.''
The German festival traces its roots to Oct. 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The royal couple invited the residents of Munich to the festivities, and the city repeated the celebration each year. Because of cold weather in October, the festival eventually was moved to September.
Dirheimer and Covington minister Steve Hoffman, a k a The Marrying Man, are looking for four more couples to recite their vows during next weekend's Oktoberfest.
The only requirements are that the prospective brides and grooms be at least 21, have a Kentucky marriage license, get dressed up, and be prepared to have fun in front of thousands of strangers. Among the German traditions organizers hope to use: the breaking of plates for good luck, the carrying of a maypole in a people's march after the ceremony, and garland wreaths for the brides.
The Jareds wound up reciting their vows at Oktoberfest after Hoffman suggested a couple of friends working a beer stand serve as witnesses.
"We wouldn't trade it for anything,'' Stephanie Jared said. "This time though, I'll take a shower. And I'll wear a sundress instead of jeans.''
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