“We’ve been together almost four years,” Don Kuroda said Friday, moments after he and his bride, Kim, were married.
“Five,” Kim interjected.
“Yes, five,” Don corrected.
The newly-minted couple wedded alongside dozens of others on Valentine’s Day during the city’s 13th annual celebration of love. During the event, the city sets up some nice backdrops and corrals volunteer judges to offer bite-sized ceremonies to couples like the Kurodas for free.
Don said he and Kim were trying to decide if they should go for a big, all-out affair or keep it private. They opted for the latter.
“This was perfect,” he said. “It’s just us today.”
“It was easy,” she said. “You don’t have to put it all together.”
Couples can come to the Clerk’s office and get married any day of the year, of course. Usually, official nuptials are just a $30 payment to the state and a couple of signed documents. But Valentine’s Day is the only day Denver offers everything else. A lot of couples who got hitched said the ceremony, no matter how small, felt special. The date was auspicious, too.
“The judge made it real,” Don said.
“It’s an easy day to remember,” Kim added.
When asked how many weddings he expected for the day, Alton Dillard, a spokesman for Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez, replied: “How many angels can you put on the head of a pin?”
Really though, he estimated they’d wed close to 100 couples by the time Friday came to an end. About 60 signed up ahead of time for a wedding.
“We’re also taking walk-ins,” he added.
It was Lopez’s first year presiding over the occasion, and he performed his first ceremony of the day for Tyree and Yvonne Wilson. He was ordained to perform the sacred rites under the authority of the Church of the Latter-Day Dude.
Lopez said Friday was a fun moment in an otherwise very busy year. Denver’s Elections Division, for which he is also responsible, just mailed ballots for the upcoming presidential primary and will have to do it again in November.
“2020 is a big year. It’s a critical year,” he said. “This is the lighter side of it.”
So who got married in this mass-production wedding machine?
Among the couples were Megan Temple and Eric Kelley, who live near Boston and have been together for four years. They got married last week in Las Vegas, but “in the hubbub, guess who forgot the marriage license?” Temple said.
So they decided not to tell anyone and get on with it as if everything was OK. They went on their planned honeymoon in Vail, and that’s when Kelley saw coverage of Denver’s wedding event on TV.
“Get up. We’re going to go to Denver and get married,” he told his fiancee.
Temple said she didn’t bother fixing her hair; she had a hat that read “bride” that would suffice.
Temple was in tears as Judge Herb Galchinsky – AKA the “love judge” – did his thing. She said she cried during the ceremony in Vegas, but this one felt more real.
James and Kent McKee have been together for six months and have known they’d get married for five.
“It was very special,” Kent said.
“It’s more than just a piece of paper. The ceremony is a reflection on your life,” James added.
Maria and Luis Molina brought their whole family.
“We wanted something simple. Why not do everything at once?” she said.
“In a way, yes, we wanted something simple,” he added.
“But cute,” she said.
Tyree and Yvonne Wilson, for whom Lopez officiated, also brought their entire family. A horde of their kids and grandkids pointed smartphones as the couple kissed, consecrating their 25-year relationship.
“We’ve been through thick and thin,” Tyree said. “But we’ve never had time for us.”
They made sure everybody could come and watch them sign the papers at the Webb Building and finally make it official. But they didn’t expect there’d be so much fanfare waiting for them, or a city clerk ordained by the Church of the Latter-Day Dude who would make it an extra-special Valentine’s Day.