By Rehema Ellis, NBC News correspondent
More than 60 years ago people only whispered about a woman or teenager who had a baby without a husband. Today about 37 percent of American children are born to unmarried mothers. The number is more than twice that in the African-American community. Among Hispanics the numbers are also high. It's not just teenage welfare mothers who are driving up those statistics. Adults -- men and women -- are deciding to have children and deciding not to get married.
It's a modern-day choice.
So, who would have thought Maryann Reid, one African American New York woman would have hundreds of couples from across the country asking her to choose them to be part of the group wedding she first planned two years ago with all expenses paid.
Reid says she's often gotten the initial requests from men who wanted to surprise their girlfriends with a wedding. But Reid says she always insists there be no secrets and no surprises. Her whole point with the mass wedding is to bring families together and she believes that means everyone has to know what's going on.
She also very clearly states that while she is an advocate for marriage because she believes in the institution, particularly when it comes to raising children, she doesn't push the idea on anyone.
People who don't want to get married, "they can live their life as they plan", she says. "We don't do anything to try and convince people that they should get married. So, I just tell people who don't wanna be bothered, don't be".
Reid had no problem finding wedding vendors to donate their services.
Joanne Baylor, who owns Make My Cake Bakery in Harlem, made the ten wedding cakes for the ceremony in 2005 and last month for the ceremony at the Riverside Church on New York's upper West Side.
When Maryann Reid first approached her with the idea Baylor said, "I guess the name, Marry Your Baby Daddy, has such a connotation, I really looked at it and said, 'What?'" But once Baylor understood the wedding was for couples who had been living together for years and had children but hadn't gotten married because they couldn't afford it, Baylor said, Reid's "being this advocate helping them to bring this whole thing together -- and families is what I'm about so, I was on board".
That's the sentiment repeated by every vendor; the dressmaker, the florist, the photographer even the church.
No one passed any judgement on those who haven't tied the knot or those who waited for Reid to help them do it. In the end, Marry Your Baby Daddy Day is a celebration for families -- moms, dads and their children.