As someone at the marriage factory said Monday, "Valentine's Day is our Super Bowl." In the past doing weddings all day just wore me out. No time to sit down, let alone have a bathroom break. It was grueling in a wonderful way. I would have 8 or 9 licenses lined up on my desk. Part of the problem was other commissioners who took too long for a ceremony. Appointments are booked every 15 minutes, plus we take walk ins. No time for the fluffy long version. We needed to be gracious, make it a serious occasion, and move them to the picture center outside the wedding room.
This year was a totally different experience. We all arrived around 8:30 A.M. There were 4 volunteers doing ceremonies: me, J, M, C. J and M also did Spanish ceremonies, so couples didn't have to wait for staff to be available. J organized us, kept track of who was next to work, who hadn't had a break, who needed to vent. Good job J. These other three volunteers were wonderful. They did their job, they moved the couples in and out of the three rooms, they made every couple feel special. It went smooth as silk. When I got home I was tired, but not exhausted.
Now to the weddings. We had three rooms for ceremonies: our regular wedding room, a conference room, and another smaller meeting room. All the rooms had red and white tulle (I know I should have taken pictures) with lots of hearts, there were silk rose petals on the lecterns and all over floors, and vases of roses in each room. One room had a wedding arbor that was covered with little white lights, white tulle, and red hearts. Every room was lovely. Every desk in the two downstairs areas had decorations and roses. We were ready for our super bowl.
J did a ceremony for a couple who were in a white tux and a long white dress. The outstanding part was all of the guests wore black and red. Stunning to see all them together. There were gorgeous saris, men in red suits, huge men with earpieces that looked like the Secret Service, men in red shoes, a bride who had colored her hair Valentine red for the ceremony. We had little girls in frilly dresses with tulle underskirts and little girl high heels. We had little boys in suits. We had brides and grooms in jeans and sweatshirts. If you can think it, we probably saw it.
The fashion item that stood out the most was shoes. I even saw a piece on the news that night about the gorgeous shoes at the weddings around the Bay Area. I love shoes and had so much fun looking at all the killer shoes. Even if the brides were in jeans, they had great shoes. We saw red snake skin 5 inch heels. Red shoes so high the front had a platform. Red shoes with rows of bows across the top of the foot. Gold bootie heels, bejeweled flip flops, black heels with straps that went up to the ankle. Even the men had great shoes. There were cowboy boots, dress black with a military shine, sneakers with bright laces and racing stripes.
Now with all this you know not everything went smoothly. I came back from one ceremony and M asked why my ceremonies took longer. Well, as J says I am the crazy magnet. If there was a problem it seemed to be one of my couples. First wedding I did began really badly. I called the names three times in the first lobby, nothing. I went into the front lobby, called the names three times nothing. Finally a man asked who I wanted, I repeated the name. He said, "They went upstairs with some guy in a suit." Are you kidding me? I gather up the witnesses and go upstairs to find the couple. I see them with the "suit". I told the suit he had hijacked my couple. He had taken them upstairs to let them pick a room. NO, we take whatever room is empty. I start down the hall to the room and the bride says, where is my wallet. The witness had left it down stairs. So we waited while she went to find it. Finally I have everyone together at the same time and did the ceremony. Instead of 15 minutes, my first wedding took over 30 minutes. And it went down hill from there.
I had a bride meltdown because the groom's grandmother was trying to organize things her way. That took an extra 10 minutes. One couple waited two hours for his mother to get there. (traffic was gridlocked). They had put her mother and father as the witness because the witness has to be there when the license is processed. Mama arrived and was ticked she wasn't down as a witness. Great hullabaloo. I sweet talked lovely Clerk S into reprinting the license and Mama and the father signed. Couples didn't both speak English and I had to get a commissioner who spoke Spanish. One couple we had to print the license three times. They had filled out the personal information and misspelled his father's name and her mother's name. I caught one error and the clerk then caught the next one. People dont' read the license when we ask them to check it.
The number one problem for all of us was groups were not ready when we called them. Someone was still on the way. They were feeding the meters, gone to take a walk, outside smoking. J was in the wedding room ready to begin the ceremony and the couple told they had to wait for so and so to arrive. Did they not hear J say, "Is everyone here?"
In spite of the problems it was a fabulous day. The staff did a wonderful job keeping things moving. They also brought in pizza for the staff and volunteers. And when we were ready to go home we volunteers were given bouquets of roses.
Can't wait for next year. As long as I will have the fabulous commissioners I worked with this year.