Wedding fundraiser to pay for high school party

Ho hum, a bake sale.

Stop by Bank of America from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and buy pies and cookies at 410 Main St. in Sultan. It’s a common way to raise money for this or that community effort, but in Sultan, dollars raised today could be a drop in the bucket compared to fundraising plans ahead.

Some of the city’s residents think they’ve got a better fundraising idea. It might work or it might not. On Valentine’s Day, folks can get married, sort of get married or renew wedding vows in a roadside chapel, all to help high school seniors afford to attend a post-graduation surprise party.

It’s the brainchild of Steve and Becky Dirlam. Far be it from me to describe them as worn out, but come on, their youngest of six, Jessi, is graduating this year.

And they had a senior last year. Ballpark, a senior’s parents will need to shell out between $1,000 and $2,000 for announcements, sports, pictures and all the hoopla that goes with getting a son or daughter out that last year of high school.

The party in Sultan last year cost $220. There are about 150 seniors at Sultan High School this year and organizers hope to have everybody attend the year-end, all-night, chaperoned party, called a “Safe and Sober Grad-Night Celebration.”

Historically, 60 go to the senior party, Becky Dirlam said.

Last year, the parents raised money with a haunted house and coffee sale, collected cardboard to recycle and participated in other community events.

And this year?

Wayside Weddings may be booked for the darling little chapel on U.S. 2 just west of Sultan. Wayside Chapel is billed as the smallest church in Washington state.

Purchase different wedding packages, starting at $79 for a vow renewal ceremony in the decorated chapel, which includes a loaned bridal bouquet, a ceremony scroll, two toasting flutes and bubbles. They’re also calling this a mock wedding, to show your loved one that someday you plan to get married, or a ceremony for a same-sex couple.

Upgrade to $109 for a “Simple Wedding” and get a bouquet to carry, a ceremony scroll, toasting flutes and bubbles. Organizers will even furnish two witnesses.

Your officiant will be Steve Dirlam, an ordained minister. He performed the marriage ceremony for his oldest daughter and her husband.

The top package, “Classic Wedding,” is $159 and includes all of the above, plus a carnation bouquet to keep, matching boutonniere, ceremony scroll, a bottle of sparkling cider, engraved flutes, a small wedding cake, bubbles, a garter, three pictures and decorations on your car.

And there are extras, such as photos with Elvis for $20 and three wedding pictures for $20, taken by Sultan senior Sam Fisher. He will incorporate the wedding work with his senior project. He won two ribbons at the Evergreen State Fair this last summer in the junior amateur competitions.

For more information, e-mail the Sultan Senior Parents Association at

“I want to see it be really fun, as well as successful,” Becky Dirlam said. “What a great way to step away from the chocolate and flowers for Valentines Day.”

The fundraising committee started making plans in June. They meet at the Dirlams, where the couple runs an adult family home. The Dirlams came up the wedding extravaganza idea and presented it to the group.

They’ve done weddings for their own children, and know the drill. When they got married 11 years ago, their minister, Arden Barden, was a friend. They spent their honeymoon night at the Bush House in Index, but it wasn’t a terribly relaxing time, Steve Dirlam said. He ran around town, looking for a TV, to see the score of the USC-Notre Dame football game.

They’ve got a unique plan percolating for a romantic Valentine’s Day in Sultan.

“It’s a cute venue for a wedding,” Becky Dirlam said. “And the money goes to an awesome cause.”

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or

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