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Margaret Palmer and Steven Mauney got married Tuesday for about $80.
Dressed to impress in a flowing blue dress and the finest Sunday suit, Palmer and Mauney walked into the Catawba County Courthouse on Valentineâ€™s Day to finally tie the knot.
To the couple, their friends and their family, â€śfinallyâ€ť was the key word. The two have been together for 15 years.
â€śFifteen years is a long, long time,â€ť Palmer said. â€śWe thought it was finally time.â€ť
Palmer and Mauney were one of more than 25 couples who married Tuesday at the Register of Deedsâ€™ Weddings, an annual event in Catawba County.
For the past six years, hundreds of couples have said â€śI doâ€ť at the courthouse during short, 15-minute ceremonies.
The marriages not only give couples a quick and efficient tie, but also help them save money. In addition to a $60 marriage license, couples only have to pay a $20 fee to formally get hitched.
For their money and time, the couples get an expedited or simpler version of any regular wedding. Thereâ€™s a formal reading of the vows, a ceremony under a rose-filled archway and even a cake-cutting and sparkling cider toast.
Couples can also take pictures with a professional photographer and enter a drawing for several vacations.
â€śThere are not too many places where you can go and have this type of set-up,â€ť said Donna Spencer, Catawba County register of deeds. â€śA lot of people who come, they donâ€™t have the money or they donâ€™t want to deal with putting on a big wedding.â€ť
Spencer helped start the Deedsâ€™ weddings after realizing how many people were coming in to get married on Valentineâ€™s Day.
She said couples can get married by a Catawba County magistrate any day of the year, but the register of deeds office wanted to make Valentineâ€™s Day special.
â€śThis gives it more of a romantic setting,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s more of what most brides would want.â€ť
Senior Minister Don W. Bledsoe has been leading couples through the Valentineâ€™s Day weddings for nearly four years at the courthouse. He said the event creates special memories.
â€śItâ€™s very positive because it gives the couple a very good service and good memory,â€ť Bledsoe said. â€śThe setting gives them something to look back on.â€ť
Bledsoe said the service is basically the same as any other wedding, down to the famous words, â€śYou may kiss the bride.â€ť
Now, with their marriage formally in place, thereâ€™s one thing Palmer and Mauney said they canâ€™t forget.
â€śWe canâ€™t forget our anniversary. Thereâ€™s no excuse,â€ť she said. â€śWe canâ€™t forget Valentineâ€™s Day."