By: Ricardo Torres-Cortez Las Vegas Review Journal
Love was in the lukewarm air Sunday afternoon outside the Clark County Marriage License Bureau as couples lined up to get the certificate needed before they can say “I do” in a wedding ceremony.
Some lovers arrived in limos, and others hauled luggage. They stood close, hugged, held hands and took selfies as the line moved smoothly.
Marc Palacios and Shelby Samartino were giddy and teased each other at the window where a clerk legalized their union.
“We finally did it,” 33-year-old Marc Palacios said excitedly afterward. “We did it,” his soon-to-be wife repeated, her pitch growing higher.
The bureau this month prepared for the influx of lovers who wish to tie the knot on Monday, which is Valentine’s Day, or Feb. 22, which is expected to be a significant day in the wedding industry due to the numerology of 2-22-22, Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya said Friday.
More than 77,000 marriage licenses were issued in 2021, said Goya, noting that the staff is expected to process more than 80,000 certificates this year. Once at the window, the process to obtain the marriage license takes about 10 minutes, she added.
Goya has heard from chapels that are reporting “some of the biggest numbers in years” for February, Goya said. “We’re very excited to see it play out.”
The Palacios and Samartino relationship flourished from the day they met through a mutual friend at a karaoke bar in San Antonio six months ago.
They had spoken about marriage for a while, and when Palacio’s parents invited them to Las Vegas to watch the Super Bowl, they found the perfect window.
“Let’s just have fun with it,” Palacios said they thought. “Let’s make something of it.”
Las Vegas offered them a low cost, convenience, spontaneity and fun, they said.
“The whirlwind of it is cool,” said Samartino, 30, mentioning the “glitzy neon lights” and the “retro” chapels.
They are tying the knot Monday at Sure Thing Wedding Chapel where they will be able to pick a special song from a jukebox, which they said will make their wedding musical like the day they met.
A pop-up marriage license bureau also opened at Harry Reid International Airport. It is located in the Terminal 1 baggage claim area and will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Feb. 22.
To streamline the process, couples can fill out the application at the website: weddings.vegas.
High school sweethearts Kevin Carrillo and Kelly Flores were visiting from Riverside, California. Planning the trip earlier in the week to celebrate Carrillo’s 24th birthday on Sunday, he asked Flores if they could also get married.
She said yes.
“He’s such a funny dorky guy,” she said. “ I was like, ‘yep I need to put a ring on that.’”
Flores, 23, said they told no one about their plans to wed at the iconic A Little White Chapel.
After seven years together, “I just couldn’t see myself not spending the rest of my life with her,” Carrillo said. “We’ve been living together and we love each other a lot.”
With pandemic-related travel restrictions, Joseph and Greg Chownski could not see each other for two years.
Greg lives in London and Joseph in Atlanta.
Greg Chownski, 41, joked that they decided to marry because they had simply seen an open booking, but later said their marriage would legalize their status as a couple and provide spousal benefits in case restrictions return.
The couple has been together for eight years since sharing a drunk dance in a London nightclub where they met. On Monday, they will be husbands.
Joseph Chownski, 49, who works for a British company, said they were still discussing where they will live as a newlywed couple.
They snapped a selfie outside the downtown Las Vegas marriage license bureau, which has a mural showing an artistic rendition of Elvis Presley’s marriage to Priscilla Presley.
More couples continued to arrive and got in line.
“There’s a reason that Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world,” said Goya, noting how easy it is to get married in Clark County.
The apparatus, from the bureau to the chapels and their wedding planners, “really makes it easy and stress-free for the couple to come here and let the focus be on them and the wedding instead of the party that they’re stressing about.”