In a setting complete with an autumn afternoon sunshine, flocks of gray pigeons, street musicians, and an array of interesting guests, a Dearborn couple traded wedding vows Saturday, October 22 in one of the most unusual locations. It took place in the midst of Occupation Detroit in Grand Circus Park.
Stan Guarnelo and Brooke Yoas of Dearborn didn’t march in with any fanfare, but they were surrounded by a hundred strangers who signed a huge piece of cardboard hastily colored by volunteers congratulating them on their nuptials. The bride, 40, wore a copper -colored taffeta gown and was escorted by her 18-year old daughter. The groom, 41, wore a black suit and tie, pushed his elderly mother in a wheelchair to take his place before the man who would marry them—Matt Kelly, otherwise known as “Wolfman Mac Chiller Drive-in”.
Before the event, wedding coordinator Kevin Watson of Dearborn Heights chalked out places on the concrete for the bride and groom and explained why the couple wanted to be the first to get married at an occupation.
“They wanted to be a piece of history”, said Watson. “As far as we know, with all the occupations going on around the country, nobody has gotten married at one”.
Guarnelo said they wanted to make small statement with their wedding. “There’s been a lot of bad talk in the press about all the” occupies” across the nation and around the world and we just wanted to do something positive.”
“This is better than what I had ever thought of. We didn’t know what to think. We just wanted romance and honestly this was very romantic for us,” added Yoas.
Medical issues kept the couple from tying the knot earlier. Yoas suffered a stroke and back injuries and needed surgery. Guarnelo, works as a video editor, but recently had his hours cut to part time. He had a toe amputated due to diabetes and didn’t have health insurance. “We’re living paycheck to paycheck and we’re flopping bills around”, he said.
“We’re just going to be together and enjoy each other,” said Guarnelo.
The couple said they couldn’t afford honeymoon, because they are trying to keep their above water and plan to go to Greenfield Village on Halloween night. “We put our last dollar into this (wedding), so we’re just going to go home and be together and be newlyweds”, added Guarnelo.
A bagpiper, mandolin player, trombone and accordion provided an impromptu wedding march and protesters along with the homeless and curious stood around to watch the nuptials. Among the guests, the mother of the groom sat nearby in her wheelchair with tears in her eyes as the couple exchanged vows. Cora Guarnelo, 82, of Dearborn Heights said she was the one who suggested the location. “They’ve known each other for 24 years. They started together in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The couple got engaged two years ago. “They’ve been through so much together. That’s why I know it’s the real thing”, said Mrs. Guranelo.