Couples in Caldwell County can get married for cheap

Jan. 30, 2013 @ 08:43 PM

For couples planning to get married but who don’t want to spend a lot of money doing it, the annual Valentine’s Day Wedding Extravaganza is just around the corner.

According to the website, 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 at the extravaganza 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.

The event has become something of a local tradition, and it was the first of its kind in the state. Three couples took part in the event in its first year, 2005; by the fifth year, that number had grown to 19. Last year, 14 couples got married on Feb. 14.

Assistant Register of Deeds Diane Dunn said she noticed a lot of people getting their marriage licenses on that day and heading to a magistrate’s office to get married. That led to an idea that she pitched to Register of Deeds Wayne Rash. He thought it was a good one.

“I just thought it would be nice if we had a place for them to go and provide everything you’d get at a chapel — a reception and everything,” Dunn said. “I talked to Wayne about it, and he was receptive to the idea. Nine years ago, that’s what we did.”

The office fields calls from other registers of deeds across the state asking for advice on hosting a similar event.

“How in the world did you get started?" is the most popular question, Dunn said. “We tell them, ‘You advertise and get vendors to help you out.’ There’s no tax money involved (in the event). It’s all from vendors and people donating. We couldn’t do it without them.”

In order to participate in the Valentine’s Day Wedding Extravaganza, couples need to call or stop by the Register of Deeds Office before Feb. 14 to schedule their ceremony and apply for a marriage license. The ceremonies will be performed from 1-4:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day in the City-County Chambers of the Alden E. Starnes Office Plaza in downtown Lenoir. For more information, call (828) 757-1310.