WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, March 14 at 12:50 p.m., the line at &pizza in Chinatown was flooded with suits, teens and tourists — all waiting to order their mozzarella-covered lunches.
But on the second floor of the fast-casual concept, Sonia Dovedy and Arya Shirazi were waiting to get married. At 1 p.m., the company’s senior human resources manager walked in and stood under a cluster of white balloons. She welcomed a group of 30 or so guests and started the ceremony.
“Well everyone, we are gathered here today to celebrate and unite Arya and Sonia…”
Bakeries, bars and restaurants throughout D.C. run specials on March 14, otherwise known as Pi Day. Many offer $3.14 slices, drafts and discounts to celebrate the mathematical constant.
But &pizza honors the date a bit differently: It hosts weddings.
Sam Blum, guest experience manager at &pizza, says it all started in 2015 when a local couple expressed interest in getting married on Pi Day.
“We said, ‘We’ll host your wedding.’ We thought it was such an incredible experience for us and for the couple, and we wanted to make it bigger and turn it into a larger, annual tradition,” Blum explained.
On Wednesday, Dovedy and Shirazi were one of about 20 couples married at &pizza locations in D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
Dovedy and her fiancé, who have known each other for about nine years, were planning a more traditional wedding, but quickly abandoned the idea.
“It was very frustrating, very overwhelming, and nobody was responding to any of my emails,” said Dovedy, of Bethesda, Maryland.
Shirazi forwarded her an email from &pizza — a call for applications for its Pi Day weddings. The subject read, “Can we just do this, instead?”
“We were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’ It felt so right and natural,” Dovedy said.
Blum said the company received more than 100 applications this year from couples who wanted to get married on Pi Day. Some had a history with &pizza — it was where they first met or had their first date. For others, the reasons ran the gamut.
“For some people, they thought about doing a courthouse wedding and wanted to be able to bring in more friends and family, enjoy some pizza, do something a little bit different,” Blum said.
“And then let’s be real, for other people weddings are just incredibly expensive and not everyone is willing to take that on.”
For the Pi Day weddings, &pizza provides the space, the music, the photography, the officiant, the bouquets, the cake, and the post-ceremony food and drinks — all free of charge to the couple.
“Really, if they show up with a marriage license, we can take care of almost everything else,” said Blum, who oversaw eight weddings at the Chinatown shop this year.
After a quick, but personal, ceremony, Dovedy and Shirazi had about an hour to mingle, eat and drink with their guests. They said the only thing they missed out on by having a more unconventional wedding was the presence of family, who live across the country.
“But we’ll celebrate with them at some point,” Dovedy said.
Up next for the newly weds? Planning a honeymoon to the World Cup in Russia.
Up next for Blum? A few more weddings to close out the day.
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