Three couples choose Leap Day for special occasion

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It will be four years before the three couples who leaped into matrimony Tuesday will celebrate their first anniversary.

The couples were married Tuesday or Leap Day in Carson City.

"I picked the 29th because it was different," said Reno's Debbie Alvarez, shortly before a justice of the peace pronounced her wife to Kenneth Willrich.

Thalia Webb of Carson City had a similar reason.

"If you're going to take the leap, what better time than Leap Day of Leap year," Webb said before her evening wedding to Sean Alberson of Carson City on the Capitol lawn.

Sandra Allison said she and fiance Gilbert Gonzales, both of Ocean Park, Wash., bought their marriage license on Monday and intended to get hitched then, but no justice of the peace was available.

"So here we are today," Allison said in the hallway of the Carson City courthouse.

"Maybe it will save me some money on anniversary presents," Gonzales said in jest.

Alvarez and Willrich had planned the Leap Day event longer than the others.

"We picked the day. We chose Carson City because it's the state capital and we liked the neat marriage license certificates they have here," Alvarez said. "The ladies at the marriage bureau and the judge's office were all very helpful."

Willrich and Alvarez each have children by previous marriages, none of whom were told of Tuesday's wedding.

"Now we think maybe we'll send them the newspaper article," Willrich said.

Gonzalez and Allison said they chose Carson City because it is one of their favorite places and they have been stopping here for years on their way to spend winters in Arizona.

"We've been working on getting married for 21 years," Gonzales said.

"I thought it was 22," said Allison.

Gonzales said he had not told his son they would get married this trip.

It was a trip that might not have happened. Earlier this winter, the pair were traveling in their van when it skidded on an icy highway, rolled over and slid on its roof.

"We kind of wanted to get married in Virginia City, but I didn't want to drive up there after the accident," Allison said.

She and Gonzales were married by Justice of the Peace Robey Willis in a brief ceremony in his chambers.

"Do we need a ring?" Allison asked and Willis explained they did not, but that the brief vows would be even briefer. So Allison pulled off one of the several rings she was wearing and handed it to Gonzales.

As he has done at hundreds of civil ceremonies, justice court clerk Jorge Pierrott served as witness for that wedding and the next, for Willrich and Alvarez.

They had a double-ring wedding and, like all couples who buy marriage licenses in Carson City, received a fancy decorative license for display, with the legal certificate to follow in the mail after it is recorded.

The Willriches said they would head to Oceanside, Calif., this weekend, weather permitting, but their "real" honeymoon will be a trip to Alaska in August.

The Gonzaleses hurried out to their motor home to head back to Ocean View, where she works at Marsha's Museum, "Home of Jake the Alligator Man." The bride and groom wanted to get some miles behind them before the highway could get icy.

Webb said she and Alberson had been talking about setting a wedding date for about four months, especially because they have a daughter, Shjon, who is a year and a half old.

"The pressure was on, but it was kind of a mutual thing that both of us were hesitant about getting married," Webb said.

Finally, two weeks ago - about the time of those Valentine's Day weddings - they picked the date.

"This means we'll only have an anniversary every four years but, when we do, it'll be a big one," Webb said.

The Gonzaleses and Willriches were on their own for their ceremonies, but friends and family joined Webb and Alberson for their Capitol lawn wedding. Jeff Crumley and Anna Maroni, both of Carson City, stood up for the bride and groom.

Alberson's parents - Carol Northart of Carson City and Jack Alberson of Sacramento - were there, as was Shjon. James Webb of Orange, Calif., and Marian Fountas of Mendocino, Calif., were not able to come to their daughter's wedding, though.

The Rev. Jim Breyer led the vows for the sunset ceremony.

"It's kind of informal, with lots of good friends and all," Webb said of the outdoor service.

The new Mrs. Alberson has to return to work at Cactus Jack's and Alberson to school at the Career College of Northern Nevada, so the couple will probably not honeymoon until September, she said.


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