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Courthouse witnesses Valentine's Day nuptials

14 couples choose romantic holiday to wed.

14 couples choose romantic holiday to wed.

February 17, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

The bride wore jeans and sneakers. The groom donned a camouflage cap.

Amy Valentin and Chris Kabler didn't need fancy clothes, champagne, flowers, a preacher or a roomful of guests to tie the knot on Friday.

They had Cupid and a courthouse.

Virginia residents Kabler, 38, and Valentin, 23, were among 14 couples who chose Valentine's Day to get married at Washington County Circuit Court in downtown Hagerstown.

"Valentine's Day is the biggest day of the year for civil marriages, followed by the end of the year. I guess love wins out over tax breaks," Chief Deputy Clerk Rick Hemphill said.

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He and his team of deputy clerks - all dressed in red - married more than 30 couples one Valentine's Day.

Hemphill expected a bigger crowd on Friday due to the holiday weekend's honeymoon potential, he said.

In a tuxedo and red bow tie, Hemphill seemed more traditionally dressed for the occasion than the brides and grooms who filed through a courthouse metal detector in casual dresses, leather, jeans and cowboy boots, paid their $25 civil ceremony fee and adjourned to the designated "marriage room" - actually a tiny, vacant office - for a five- to 10-minute ceremony.

First come, first served.

After missing the morning marriage rush, Laura Appleby, 34, and Kenneth Decker, 31, didn't have to wait long for deputy clerk Kristy Burgan to perform their nuptials behind a wood podium. The couple, from Shippensburg, Pa., held hands and looked into each other's eyes as they exchanged wedding vows with Appleby's three children looking on.

Emotion choked the bride's voice after her very-soon-to-be husband promised his love. Appleby's 17-year-old son, Andrew Pine, mimed throwing rice at the couple after Burgan pronounced them man and wife.

Why did they choose to get hitched on Valentine's Day?

"It was convenient," Appleby said. "The kids were out of school, and we'll always remember the date."

Groom Ken Blockinger took that sentiment one step further.

"Now I just have to get one gift," he said, before amending his statement after a sharp glance from fiance Heavenly Ray. "One big gift."

The Hancock couple said their "I do's" before deputy clerk Linda Hult and Blockinger's mother, Kitty. The bride, 39, confessed to a slight case of nerves before her second marriage, but the groom was more at ease during his fourth trip to the alter.

"I'm an old pro at it," said Blockinger, 41, prompting another look from his sweetheart. "But four is forever."

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