Lonia Tate, left, sips a cool glass of water as her soon-to-be husband, Paul Mason, right, laughs nervously while waiting for their 2 p.m. vow time Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, at Shotgun Ceremonies in Seattle, Wash. The couple decided on tying the knot Vegas-style at Seattle’s only shotgun wedding chapel, located in the heart of Pioneer Square. The shop’s owners, Bronwen Stevenson and Sara Qureshi, not pictured, opened the shop in 2010 after quitting deadbeat jobs and both possessing a mutual adoration for love.
Bronwen, right, quickly discusses the process of the shotgun wedding to Paul, left, and his father, top left, while preparing the rings only minutes before the ceremony’s initiation. Bronwen herself was originally married in a shotgun wedding, pregnant and 18 years old while on a trip in Vegas. “[My experience] has always kept place in my heart for shotgun weddings,” Bronwen said.
Lonia fans herself, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Family and friends bustled around the small space, chatting and congratulating Lonia and Paul.
Paul and Lonia share a grin under the steel Shotgun Ceremonies altar as Bronwen, left, reads their wedding vows aloud. The moment marked a long road for the couple, who met in 2006. Paul – unbeknownst to his wife’s family – suffers from a mental disorder that would jeopardize a formal marriage through complicated insurance problems. He and Lonia sought out a Shotgun Ceremonies as an under-the-radar alternative.
Moments after the vows were sealed, Paul darted from under the altar, fists clenched and humming with excitement. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for years,” Paul said. Lonia, right, collapses into the pew, overwhelmed with happiness.
Only 15 minutes after the ceremony began, Paul – with the marriage certificate tucked under his jacket to shield against a Seattle drizzle – and Lonia exit Shotgun Ceremonies as a legally married couple. “This is my girl,” Paul said. “I’m so happy right now.”