Valentine’s Day: County clerks prepare for busy wedding day

Natassia Grover places a ring on the hand of Ronnie Mendoza during a Valentine's Day wedding ceremony in 2004 at the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana.
(Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and Clerk is preparing for the biggest smooch day of the year as couples line up to marry on Valentine’s Day.

Since Feb. 3, the department has been accepting appointments for Valentine’s Day weddings.


“It’s one of the busiest days for ceremonies in the office,” said Portia Sanders, division manager at the county clerk’s Norwalk headquarters. “It’s one of those great days to be here in the office.”

Six of the branch offices will have two chapels available for marriage services, with at least one devoted to walk-in appointments, Sanders said.

“There will be ceremonies taking place every 15 minutes,” she said.

The services will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sanders said they anticipate more couples this Valentine’s Day because of last year’s Supreme Court ruling on Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Last year, she said, there were 327 marriage ceremonies performed on Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles County.

Althought most of the slots for ceremonies have been booked, Sanders said couples can still walk in.

Couples are encouraged to fill out an online marriage license application and bring the confirmation page to one of the branch offices, along with $90 for a public license fee or $85 for a confidential license.

In Orange County, the Orange County Clerk-Recorder said it will keep its three marriage office locations open late Friday, with extra staff able to perform ceremonies in more rooms, department officials said.

“My staff is dedicated to making this day as convenient and romantic as possible for the couples,” Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen said in a statement.

Marriage services will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the department’s Old Orange County Courthouse location in Santa Ana. At the department’s branch offices in Laguna Hills and Fullerton, couples can get married from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Usually, the offices close at 4:30 p.m.

Daniel Gutierrez, the county’s marriage office supervisor, said time slots are still available for couples who’d like to make a Valentine’s Day appointment.

Last year on Valentine’s Day, the county issued 224 marriage licenses and married 170 couples — nearly tying the department’s all-time record of 173 on Feb. 14, 1997.

This year so far, he said, 89 pairs have made appointments to get married in Santa Ana, while the Laguna Hills and Fullerton offices expect 50 couples each.

In total, that’s about six times the number of couples on a typical Friday, which is already the busiest day of the week.

And for more spontaneous duos, Gutierrez added, walk-ins are welcome. He estimated that the longest wait time would be no more than 15 minutes for a five- to 10-minute ceremony.

“We just don’t want couples to wait,” he said. “It’s Valentine’s Day — they should be doing something else.


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