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These ‘brides’ just want to have fun—and spoof the state of marriage

A group of joyful people, some in sunglasses, dressed in various wedding gowns, poses with expressive excitement.
A large group of people wearing wedding gowns gathers at Washington Square Park in San Francisco on Saturday. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

A bevy of brides clustered at the foot of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church at Washington Square Park on Saturday. But while their gowns may have taken a trip—or two—down the aisle, this group wasn't headed toward the altar.

The eclectic crew of Bay Area residents donning secondhand veils and trains was assembled for a performative procession and pub crawl down Columbus Avenue—an annual San Francisco rite of spring known as the Brides of March.

Since the late '90s (excluding two pandemic years), the zany gathering of people dressed in pre-owned bridal couture has taken over the streets of the city to spoof the opulence of Western wedding traditions and comment on the consumerist mindset of marriage. Also, to get dressed up and day-drink.

A group of people in wedding attire, smile outdoors, with a historic church in the background.
People gathered at Washington Square Park to celebrate the 2024 Brides of March. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

According to Brides of March's origin story, the annual tradition began after Michele Michele, a member of San Francisco's legendary band of merry pranksters known as the Cacophony Society, saw loads of wedding dresses weighing down a local thrift store rack. Michele decided that a creative public gathering might give the gowns a second life—"or third or fourth or fifth adventure" in the words of current Brides of March organizer Jenneviere Villegas.

"Used wedding dresses are kind of strange creatures," Villegas said. "So it's sort of like being able to take these one-use items that people, for whatever reason, have given to a thrift store and turn them into something that has more adventures."

But more than commentating on the state of marriage, the kooky event, which Villegas describes as "half street art and half pub crawl," is just another opportunity for San Francisco to fly its freak flag.

"It's a lot of fun and just one of those bastions of, like, weird San Francisco culture," Villegas said.

See 9 more images from the Brides of March

Christina Campodonico can be reached at