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Drive-thru offers coffee, weddings

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2003

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho At the Rev. Al Holm's drive-thru espresso place, you can get a latte, a mocha, or a husband.

Cheri Henderson chose the last, marrying Bryan Myers in a five-minute ceremony.

Well, wham bam,'' Cheri, 35, said at the conclusion of the wedding, witnessed by the barista and some customers of Holm's Sacred Grounds caffeine-and-commitment emporium.

Sacred Grounds occupies a former pizza counter in the back of the A-n-D Mini Mart, located on a busy street a block from Interstate 90.

Holm is ordained in the First Christian Church, but the counter of Sacred Grounds is his only pulpit. He is 67 and a retired police chaplain and drug counselor in the Coeur d'Alene area.

I can't sit home and watch Oprah, so I decided to open an espresso stand,'' Holm said. Last month, his wife suggested he also offer weddings.

I laughed, but we talked about it and said, why not?''' Holm said.

The mocha-and-matrimony business is possible because Idaho requires only a wedding license for a legal marriage. No waiting period. No blood test.

Cheri and Bryan were the first to go through the marriage grinder at Sacred Grounds.

The happy couple from Whitehall, Mich., figure their family and friends will be surprised when they return from vacation hitched.

They have dated for more than a year and a half, and had planned to get married for some time.

We didn't just meet here this morning,'' explained Bryan, 33, a driver for Federal Express.

Cheri, a receptionist at a weekly newspaper, said the couple had been vacationing in the San Juan Islands of Washington, and first entertained the idea of getting married there. But Washington has a pesky three-day waiting period.

It's like buying a gun,'' Bryan said.

On a drive from Seattle to visit friends in Missoula, Mont., they spent the night in Coeur d'Alene and spotted the classified ad for Sacred Grounds the next morning in the Coeur d'Alene Press.

It was fate. It was meant to be,'' Cheri said.

They stopped by the Kootenai County Courthouse for the license, called Holm to say they were coming, and walked into Sacred Grounds around noon.

Before the ceremony, the couple filled out paperwork and answered some questions from Holm.

How much religion do you want?'' Holm asked.

Short and sweet, right?'' Cheri asked Bryan.

Yes,'' Bryan said.

Do you have your own vows?'' Holm asked.

No,'' Cheri said.

Really?'' Bryan asked her. Nothing at all? You couldn't say five or six words?''

Will you have someone give you away?'' Holm asked.

No, the couple said.

Cheri did not want to be married in front of the coffee bar.

This feels very exposed,'' she said. Could we go back there a little bit?''

They stood in front of the drive-up window. Cheri held a small bouquet of flowers she'd picked up on the way to Sacred Grounds. They did not have wedding rings.

Holm began with a short reading of the Apostle Paul on the subject of love. He asked each of the couple if they would take the other as their lawfully wedded spouse.

Then, by the authority of the state of Idaho, he pronounced them husband and wife and the couple kissed. It was the first wedding for both.

In August we'll do a reception and have the wedding blessed by a priest,'' Cheri said afterward. This is a good change. We're ready for it.''

There are some kinks to work out in the ceremony.

The background music in the store was a little loud until the boom box was turned down. There was no wedding photographer, so a photojournalist covering the event agreed to snap a few pictures on Myers' digital camera.

Other coffee patrons had to wait for their orders, as barista Veronica Ramage, 20, served as a witness.

Now I know where to come for entertainment during our lunch break,'' one customer said.

After the ceremony, all parties signed the wedding license, which Holm has to return to the courthouse for the marriage to be legal. It's all part of the services Holm performs in exchange for a $50 donation.

That's below the general market here'' for marriages, he said. Generally it runs $300.''



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