Boston pub crawl turns into surprise holiday wedding

Katie Grillo and Mark Brierley wowed 150 guests with a unique twist.

About 150 guests attended Katie Grillo and Mark Brierley's wedding.
About 150 guests attended Katie Grillo and Mark Brierley's wedding in Boston on Saturday, Dec. 14. –Courtesy Katie Grillo

When 150 of Katie Grillo and Mark Brierley’s friends and family showed up for their annual pub crawl, most guests thought it was simply another year of their favorite “roaming” holiday party.

But on the second stop of the crawl (The Ginger Man), a friend in the know made a surprise announcement.

“Our friend Dave dressed up as Charles Dickens, read from a scroll, and unveiled our wedding would be taking place in one hour’s time,” Grillo recalled in an interview with Boston.com.

Thirteen elves, Grillo’s bridesmaids, ran the show while Grillo and Brierley transformed from pub crawl hosts to bride and groom.

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“Mark went to set up the ceremony, and I went to a hotel to literally transform from elf to bride,” Grillo said.

At around 3:30 p.m., after a drink at Central Wharf, guests filed on the Greenway outside of Rings Fountain. Grillo hid in a nearby parking garage with her dad, who walked her down the aisle.

“That’s when we got everyone singing ‘Winter Wonderland,'” Brierley recalled. As the crowd sang, “He’ll say are you married? We’ll say, no man,” friend of the couple Brett Kratchman, dressed in an inflatable snowman suit, shouted from the back, “I can do the job while I’m in town.” He shuffled to the front and officiated the wedding. “It was perfect,” Brierley laughed.

“I’m still in shock we pulled it off,” Grillo said. “It is not easy trying to put together a surprise pub crawl outdoor wedding in the middle of December without telling about half of the guests, the city of Boston, or any of your venues, but by some miracle, we got all the laughs, beauty, and surprises we hoped for.”

Brierley and Grillo, residents of Somerville, got engaged in October 2018.

“Mark’s aunt and uncle did a surprise wedding way back when,” Grillo said. “We always had in our mind how cool that was.”

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The following June, they decided they’d host a surprise wedding of their own at the 12th annual holiday pub crawl.

“A lot of our friends and family go anyways,” Brierley said. “We thought it’d be really fun and unique. We’ve been to a ton of weddings, and wanted ours to stand out a bit.”

“We’re not traditional people, but the pub crawl is a tradition of ours,” Grillo said.

They baited guests with the idea that it’d be the last bar crawl.

“We told people that was going to be the last year. But I don’t know, now that we’ve pulled it off, it can’t be,” Grillo said. “Instead of a 13th annual pub crawl, maybe it’ll be a first annual wedding anniversary party.”

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