As for the guest list, anyone can come. After all, Rob Dominguez and Naty Ramos are getting hitched at the 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter in Orange City.
They’ll exchange vows in the Garden Center at 9 a.m. Monday as the world’s largest retailer continues to do what it does best: Sell. Sell. Sell.
Even the arch and fresh flowers used in the ceremony will have price tags. "We can’t stop business for this," store co-manager Travis Cutshaw said. "Customers are still welcome to shop."
Although Wal-Mart weddings are new to Central Florida, they’vehappened elsewhere in the state — and across the country. Critics say Wal-Mart is replacing the "town center" of communities in ways no one had imagined.
"It’s becoming this sort of public backdrop," said Al Norman, an anti-Wal-Mart activist in Greenfield, Mass. "Wal-Mart killed the ‘town square,’ so now people are gathering in these artificial one-stop shopping emporiums."
Today’s Wal-Marts offer everything from in-store banks and hair salons to police departments and fast-food joints. "It wouldn’t surprise me if someday you see a City Hall annex in a Wal-Mart where you can get marriage licenses," Norman said.
Dominguez, 40, and Ramos, 28, didn’t initially intend to get hitched at work. They had planned a civil service at the courthouse and a small reception in their new Deltona home. But they changed plans this week after a store manager offered the store for free, because the couple couldn’t afford a big wedding.
"Out of the blue, [a manager] just comes up with this idea," Dominguez said. "Originally we weren’t sure . . . but I’ve worked [for Wal-Mart] for 17 years. It’s like a home."
The couple met two years ago while stocking shelves and said that most of their friends also are Wal-Mart employees. So, it makes sense, they said, that Ramos will be walked down an aisle of impatiens and begonias by a store manager, while a cashier will perform the ceremony.
Now, Ramos said she just has to find a wedding dress — something she won’t buy from Wal-Mart. Instead, she’s going to the mall.
Because most of the couple’s family members live in New York, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, several employees have volunteered to tape the service and send it to relatives, Dominguez said.
"It’s very untraditional," Dominguez said at work Thursday.Wal-Mart corporate spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone said the company doesn’t keep count of how many weddings are hosted in its stores. Most of the couples are employees, she said.
About a dozen couples have tied the knot at Wal-Mart Supercenters during the past few years –including at stores in Fort Myers, Palm Harbor, Texas and New Hampshire, according to newspaper archives.
"It’s a cheap trick," said John Vaughan, an Orlando organizer for WalMart Alliance for Reform Now and an Episcopal priest. "It tells us how well Wal-Mart pays its employees if they can’t afford their own wedding. [The company] could have rented a hall somewhere anonymously. This way they’re just calling attention to themselves."
But Orange City Wal-Mart employees said Monday’s ceremony is just about celebrating with the couple.
"When Rob made the announcement that he wanted to share it with us, we were so excited," said Tena Quimby, the store’s training coordinator.
Dominguez is "one of the nicest, most popular guys here," Quimby said.