Shortly before 1 p.m., the couples who had signed up for the Caldwell County Register of Deeds’ Valentine’s Day Wedding Extravaganzastarted showing up: 13 of them by the end of the afternoon, down one from last year’s total. The attire ranged from casual to semiformal, ripped jeans to wedding dresses, and held everything from 2-year-old children to Unity candles as they walked into the room.
Each had a story.
While most of Caldwell County was inside on Jan. 31, staying out of the rain, Jeff Welch of Lenoir was outside slogging through mud and ice on his bike in Louisville, Ky. Welch, the co-owner of Luna Cycles downtown, was a contestant in the 2013 UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championships.
According to the website costofwedding.com, the average ceremony in Caldwell County costs about $21,000. Couples who can’t spend that much, or simply don’t want to, can tie the knot Feb. 14 for a grand total of $80. The marriage license, required no matter where couples choose to marry, costs $60, and $20 goes to the magistrate performing the ceremony. That $80 also includes traditional perks such as decorations, food, flowers, music and wedding photographs provided by volunteers and donors, while local businesses provide gifts for the happy couple.