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Couple's Vows Bring Byrd Bucks

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"We really liked the movie," Seay says of why the betrothed have chosen the film as post-wedding entertainment. "We identify with the free-wheeling nature of the family."

As for the Elvis touch, Seay says it's a family matter. During the 1960s in Frankfurt, Germany, Seay's mother, who is German, snuck out with a friend to see the King's "GI Blues." She stumbled upon Seay's father, a GI stationed in Frankfurt. Destiny prevailed.

Likewise, it did for Seay when he stumbled into a potato-chips display nearly five years ago at the Museum District's convenience hub, Patterson Express. The woman behind the counter was Hawks.

Seay, 30, works as "bottle master" at Legend Brewing Company, and Hawks, 36, works in Carytown as a waitress and a vintage-clothing sales associate. The couple's wedding celebrates a personal commitment and a public landmark, they say.

The cost to attend is $5. All proceeds go to The Byrd Theatre Foundation, a citizens' group that aims to buy the theater from its owners for $1.5 million and then operate and restore it.

Seay says it was his idea to get hitched at the movie palace, his fiancée's idea to make it a benefit. The couple's second date was going to a midnight movie at The Byrd. They saw "Metropolis" and soon fell in love. "We've spent a lot of time there since," Seay says.

Since it opened on Christmas Eve in 1928, six private weddings have taken place at the historic movie palace, one last week. The Seay-Hawks wedding will be No. 7, the only one open to all with suggested attire: "Please feel free to come dressed as your favorite movie or television character!" the invitation reads.

Seay, who goes by P.J., hopes to pack the place, filling enough of the 1,392 seats to raise money for a new neon marquee. It may be premature, he says, but R2-D2 could show up — and who knows who else?

His bride will wear an ivory gown with emerald-green beading to match the paisley design of his custom-made black tux. Their formalwear may be the only sign of convention. "Everybody's really getting into it," Seay says of support from friends and family. "We're setting the stage for a kind of comedy of errors." — Brandon Walters



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