500 free wedding ceremonies for military couples

Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-30 21:52:42-05

Vows From The Heart Ministries and Elope to San Diego celebrated its 500th elopement for active military members on Monday.

The ceremony was held for free at the Bali Hai Restaurant on San Diego Bay.

Concepcion Sosa showed up earlier in the day to thank the husband and wife behind Military Mondays.

"When you're a little girl and you dream of having the big, fancy wedding, wearing that big princess dress," Sosa said.

Her fairytale started off a bit like Cinderella’s early days. 

"[The proposal] was not the most romantic way,” she said with a little laugh.

She was on her knees with rubber gloves on scrubbing the toilet when Stephano walked in the bathroom to pop the question.

She laughed at how she needed a special ceremony after a proposal like that.

She was not just thinking about becoming a Navy wife. She has four kids from a previous marriage, so she was concerned about the cost of a wedding.

"The price just is humongous," she said.

She started looking online and found Vows from the Heart Ministries & Elope to San Diego.

Reverend Christopher Tuttle did not plan on doing weddings for free.

"I wanted to be a Marine,” Tuttle said. “I was a jarhead since birth." 

He had a vision problem, and he said that led to his true calling.

“There was this moment when I realized, if I can't grab a weapon and stand a post beside the men that I wanted to be, let me serve them."

On Memorial Day in 2007, a Marine needed help with his wedding at the last minute. Tuttle made it happen.

"And, they went to pay me, and I remember looking at them and saying ‘Let's make this a true Military Monday; Semper Fi,'" Tuttle said.

Sosa was truly touched.

"Knowing that there's people like them giving back to military is something incredible," Sosa said.

She had the wedding she wanted on the beach in Coronado without the stress or the cost. She just had to pay $160 for what she wore. 

“It was kind of like Romeo and Juliet… you know, run away and get married," Sosa said.

But, she is hoping for forever.

They estimate services donated to date for the program to be worth nearly $400,000.