- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

LEAVENWORTH, Wash. (AP) - How does a small, six-person wedding become a theme party with more than 1,000 beer-guzzling “guests?”

With very little pre-planning, apparently, as Olympia residents Ashleigh and Michael Smith found out Oct. 18.

The couple was going to elope, but after speaking with a good friend who is also a minister, decided to step up the plans a bit by dressing in Victorian garb and tying the knot at Oktoberfest.

The minister dressed as a Franciscan Monk and their two “best men” - Ashleigh didn’t have a bride’s maid - as the “Pinkerton” brothers, founders of the 1800s security company.

When they got to Leavenworth, Ashleigh and Michael took a little nap, while the rest of their small wedding party conspired.

They asked around and hooked up with Oktoberfest co-chairs, Steve Lord and Bob Francis, and got permission for the couple to get married on the Festhalle stage - the mecca of Oktoberfest entertainment.

Fest volunteer Bonnie Klenda got wind of the plan and excitedly “recruited” about 20 other couples to lead the wedding procession to the stage as a band played the wedding march.

“It turned out to be an amazing, amazing event,” Ashleigh said. “They just went above and beyond for us. I was very OK with just having a six-person wedding in front of a bunch of drunk people in a tent. But we ended up getting married and speaking in front of 1,200 people. It was a flash wedding.”

The tradition of Oktoberfest actually sprung from a big wedding bash in Germany in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became king. So the Smiths’ nuptials were a natural.

Francis said he isn’t sure they could necessarily accommodate future couples who seek similar treatment at Oktoberfest, but was happy it worked out for the Smiths.

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Information from: The Wenatchee World, http://www.wenatcheeworld.com

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