Original post: February 18, 2015
Valentine's Day is a busy day for weddings at the Marriage Factory, as you might imagine. It's not a madhouse, like 8/8/08 or 11/11/11, but a lot of folks put a lot of stock in calendar-based romance. So many did this year that the Hall of Records opened on a Saturday just to marry those romantic souls, even taking appointments.
When a couple gets married at the Hall of Records, they can choose to have the ceremony in one of several non-English languages, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Spanish among them. Four years of high school Spanish classes, and a little help from a couple of fluent friends, qualify me as a bilingual marriage commissioner. I can conduct weddings en Español. The English to Spanish ratio on an average Friday is 4:1, mas o menos.
There were 5 commissioners on hand Saturday, more than enough to handle the traffic. Since I was the only Spanish speaker, I got all the Spanish-language weddings. That kept me very busy. The groups ranged from 3-person walk-ins to full houses chanting "Beso! Beso!" when the ceremony was finished.
One challenge with Spanish weddings is that I know the ceremony very well, but I'm not good at free-style conversation. I can say "Please silence your phones." or "Do you have rings?" but trouble arises with something complicated like "You have to go downstairs and ask the clerk for your legal certificate, which might take 10-15 minutes before it's ready." Luckily, at least one person in every group spoke or understood enough English that I could communicate the next steps after the ceremony, and I struggled my way through it a couple times in Spanish, just for good measure.
We opened at 9 and got everyone done by 2, which was a credit mostly to the wonderful clerks who got folks registered, including a bunch of walk-ins, fixed typos, and made sure licenses got recorded properly. They even got us donuts and pizza!
Lots of beautiful dresses and suits, of course. Why get married on Valentine's Day if you're not going to do it right?
By the numbers
Total ceremonies: 40
Ceremonies conducted by me: 15
Spanish ceremonies: 14
Formal wear: 12
Donuts eaten: 2