Love In The Time Of Coronavirus: Couples Get Hitched In Parking Lot Of O.C.’s Honda Center
By: Ada Tseng
Date: April 18, 2020
“…On Friday, however, the county was back in the marriage business. Not at a courthouse, though. Instead, the agency set up three booths in the parking lot of Anaheim’s Honda Center, where staff gave out marriage licenses and performed ceremonies.
…Starting Monday, people can call the county’s marriage hotline at (714) 834-2740 to make an appointment at the Honda Center on every Friday until it’s safe to return to the courthouse.
“There is definitely a demand,” said Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen. “We were getting calls, wanting us to do it over FaceTime.”
But legislation didn’t allow the ceremonies to be done that way, he said, so he had to figure out how to continue to help couples but also follow all health orders.
“I was looking for anything with glass in the front that could protect both my staff and the public,” Nguyen said.
He called movie theaters with the idea of using their ticket booths, but they were all closed. Then he reached out to the staff at the Orange County fairgrounds, but they couldn’t offer their space because the site was housing the homeless during the coronavirus crisis. But they offered their ticket booths.
A crew from O.C. Public Works picked up three booths, later decorated with heart banners. The Honda Center gave Nguyen permission to use its parking lot. Nguyen worked with Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu and other city officials to provide electricity and air conditioning inside the booths.
Because the holes in the ticket booths were sealed for full protection, the staff talks to the couples through walkie talkies. Couples have to hold up their driver’s licenses to the window and then pull down their required masks to show their faces. Most visits take about 10 to 15 minutes, and with three booths, the clerk-recorder staff has the capacity to do up to 60 visits a day.
Only one witness is allowed for each ceremony, so the rest of Paul’s and Vargas’ immediate families stood back near the parked cars to watch. But their witness used Zoom to livestream the vows to family members everywhere from the U.K. to Peru to Tel Aviv, so everyone could see Heather in the white dress made by her grandmother, and Charlton in a red tux and tie with purple accents, a nod to their wedding colors.…”