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October 18, 2017

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These couples defy tradition, opt for Friday the 13th weddings


Christopher DeVargas

Dixie Woodham and Christopher Dean, of Denton Texas, stand before the Grim Reaper, played by Ron DeCar, during a “Grim Reaper” themed wedding at Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, Friday April 13, 2012.

Friday the 13th Weddings

Dixie Woodham and Christopher Dean, of Denton Texas, stand before a coffin/alter during a Launch slideshow »

Christopher Dean’s gold front tooth sparkled as he smiled and watched his redheaded bride in a white mermaid-style wedding dress walk down the aisle. The grim reaper would marry them, after creeping out of an upright casket. It’s Friday the 13th and the couple decided to elope at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

“ 'Cause death do us part,” said bride Dixie Woodham, as to why she desired a ghoulish-themed wedding on what is usually considered an unlucky day.

The chapel, which opened in 1999, offers specials on Friday the 13th or gothic-themed wedding packages. Among the list are Dracula’s Tomb, Rocky’s Horror Wedding and Zombie Wedding.

“We both like skeletons,” said Dean, 32, of Denton Texas, adding that his favorite number is 13.

“We had our engagement pictures taken at a cemetery near our house,” said his bride, a 30-year-old Las Vegan who moved to Texas about three years ago.

During their wedding, fog drifted out from behind a certain as the scythe-wielding grim reaper, played by chapel owner Ron DeCar, made the couple promise to love and cherish each other and to lift one another’s spirits when the other’s seems dead.

“It’s a big show, so you might as well make it a good one,” DeCar said.

The chapel does about 20 traditional or themed weddings on a typical Friday the 13th and more gothic-themed weddings on days like Halloween.

“It’s their day. I want them to be happy,” DeCar said. “Sometimes friends are a bit taken aback by the thing.”

The pair decided to ditch their friends and family and tie the knot in Vegas.

“They don’t know,” she said. “They think we’re crazy.”

Mr. and Mrs. Dean weren’t the only ones married to the idea of having a Friday the 13th wedding.

Click to enlarge photo

Dr. Frank N. Furter, played by Ron DeCar, and cast perform the Time Warp during a "Rocky Horror" themed wedding at Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, Friday April 13, 2012.

Brett Carroll, 32, and his bride Elizabeth Johannesen, 23, from Bakersfield, Calif., took a musical approach to their big day.

The 23-year-old — pregnant with the couple’s second son — had Google searched “Rocky Horror Picture Show”-themed weddings and found the Las Vegas chapel.

“We got lucky that it was Friday the 13th,” Johannesen said.

Her father, Gary Johannesen, walked her down the aisle toward her fiancé and their 4-year-old son, London.

Gary, who first saw the movie as a teenager, mouthed the words to the musical numbers performed by wedding chapel staff and DeCar, who was dressed in a black corset and pantyhose as transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

“Do you both remember the very first night your car broke down in front of my castle?” Dr. Frank-N-Furter asked, making references to the 1975 cult classic.

At the end of the ceremony, the wedding party danced the “Time Warp” from the movie.

“At first you think, ‘What the hell?’” said the bride, about her movie-inspired wedding.

“I was excited,” her husband said. “It fits us well.”

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