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California welcomes even the most last-minute leap day weddings

Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Orange County loves love and wants couples who are looking to take the matrimonial leap to stop by the courthouse Thursday — leap day, that special date that only arrives once every four years.

Newlyweds-to-be are encouraged to make an appointment first — but walk-ins are also welcome.

The Orange County clerk-recorder's office is not necessarily condoning impulsive nuptials, but it is offering extended hours of operation for civil ceremonies at three locations, including its county offices in Anaheim, Laguna Hills and the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Leap Day is the perfect backdrop for couples to let their love take flight into an exciting chapter," Orange County Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen said in a news release. "My department looks forward to making couples' dreams of a joyous, seamless, and romantic wedding day come true."

Staff will be available to help prepare wedding certificates, and although walk-in weddings will be done on a first-come, first-served basis, the county strongly encourages couples to make an appointment online. An online application will need to be filled out before any wedding ceremony can begin in person, according to the county's news release.


Leap day arrives every four years thanks to the Earth's annual rotation around the sun taking a bit longer than 365 days. The extra accrued time results in Feb. 29 appearing on the calendar every fourth year — leap year — to help the seasons line up. That means couples who take the plunge on leap day can celebrate their wedding anniversary every four years, just in time for the Summer Olympics and presidential elections.

A public marriage license in Orange County won't break the bank either, at $61, while a confidential marriage license goes for $66. A civil marriage ceremony can be performed for an extra $28, according to the clerk-recorder's office.

For those who plan to say "I do" on leap day and still have questions — about the ceremony, not the relationship — they can call the clerk-recorder's information line at (714) 834-2500 during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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