Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 2011
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Reporter Rebecca Berfanger wrote this blog post.

Starting in 2007, each year the clerk’s office in Marion County does a “Chapel of Love” event where couples can get married on Valentine’s Day for a donation to the American Heart Association. This year the clerk’s office had 35 couples scheduled to get married today between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to a release the office sent Friday.

A $50 donation to the American Heart Association is in lieu of an officiant’s fee. Since 2007, the event has raised more than $5,500 and 134 couples have been married prior to today’s event.

A year ago today, my friend Natasha Wheeler, who got engaged the previous October, got married at the Marion County Clerk’s Office and has no regrets.

Natasha and her husband first learned about this event through an article they saw in NUVO, and later through the blog post I wrote the Friday before the 2010 event, which I posted on my Facebook page.

She sent me a text that Friday evening because she had called the clerk’s office and was told they didn’t have any openings. I don’t have an “in” with the clerk’s office myself, but I did tell her when I called for more info earlier that day I was told they might be able to take walk-ins.

They got to the City County Building Feb. 14, 2010, about an hour and a half before the scheduled start time for the event, begged for a marriage license (the clerk’s office recommends couples get these ahead of time but did grant one to my friends), and they were the first couple to be married.

About a month later, they hosted an open house at their condo and shared photos and their story from that day. An e-mail I sent to her about the press release for the event was included in their wedding album.

Since then, Natasha and I have talked about her experience. Last month I joked with my coworkers that my boyfriend and I would do this today (we’re not, for the record and in case my mom is reading this).

Before deciding to do this, Natasha and her husband had looked into more traditional options for their wedding, and had even researched the costs for Las Vegas wedding, but they are happy with their choice to get married at the “Chapel of Love.”

“When planning a traditional wedding became too stressful and expensive, we decided to do something more fun, unique and philanthropic,” she texted me on her one-year anniversary.

In related news, the cost of a marriage license might increase if a bill passes this session. HB 1248, currently in the Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs, would increase the fee from $18 to $72, effective July 1, 2011. Couples who take a premarital preparation course would still only pay $18.
 

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