Court house may be empty Sundays but, yes, the Marriage Bureau is open |

Court house may be empty Sundays but, yes, the Marriage Bureau is open

Teya Vitu

Let’s say you have a spontaneous notion on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to get married right then, but you don’t have a marriage license.

No problem, the Carson City Marriage Bureau will be issuing licenses both days.

Justice of the Peace Robey Willis will perform wedding ceremonies on a first-come, first-served basis from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday for those who want to close the year in newly wedded bliss. Justice of the Peace John Tatro will wed those who want to launch the millennium with marital vows from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Marriage licenses and the Willis-and-Tatro show all take place at the new Carson City Public Safety Complex at Roop and Musser streets.

The courts, jail, elections and marriage bureaus all moved into the new facility in March and April. For the Marriage Bureau, though, the marrying public hasn’t quite gotten used to the new location.

“I’ve had people call from outside with a cell phone asking, ‘Where are you?,'” said weekend marriage clerk Grace Barton.

Weekends were once a popular day to issue marriage licenses when the bureau was on Curry Street a block from the Capitol. These days, the Marriage Bureau is the only office open on weekends in the three-story court house.

Complicating matters, the bureau is out of sight, down a long hallway from the building’s entrance. Plus, hardly a car sits in the parking lot on Sundays.

“I don’t know if it looks like it’s empty,” Barton said.

The bureau indeed is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Sunday is just another day to issue marriage licenses.

Sunday business, however, has dropped from a normal of six or so licenses issued at the old fire house on Curry to a maximum of six.

“Now if I have one or two it’s a big deal,” Barton said.

The day after Christmas, Barton was on duty from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and issued a single marriage license.

“If we do not build up our Sundays, there’s a chance we may close on Sundays,” supervising marriage clerk Kay Bunch said.

One couple got a license the day after Christmas.

In the non-stop Nevada tradition, the Silver State makes it as easy as possible to get a marriage license. State law dictates that counties with a population of 100,000 or more (Clark and Washoe) must keep their main marriage bureau office open every day of the year at least from 8 a.m. to midnight.

In Carson City, the Board of Supervisors sets the days and hours. Likewise with county commissions elsewhere in the state.

“We used to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover said.

The night shift was cut in 1986 and Glover ended the swing shift in the early 1990s. The marriage bureau closed for Christmas and Thanksgiving about four years ago when a marriage clerk who wasn’t married retired, Glover said.

Even with the allure of Las Vegas, the glamour of Tahoe and the reputation in Reno, the Carson City Marriage Bureau attracts its share of visitors seeking a license. About two-thirds of marriage licenses are issued to out-of-town residents.

Out of town could be Minden or Buenos Aires.

“It was international day on Wednesday,” Bunch said. “The first couple was from Mexico, the second from Canada and the third from Slovakia.”

The Carson City Marriage Bureau has at least three attractions for would-be brides and grooms:

– typically short waits.

– A souvenir certificate of marriage suitable for framing. The revamped 2000 version has an ornamental blue border.

– Carson City gives the couple the original wedding certificate at the time they apply. Some counties only give an abstract, others you have to apply for the original at a later date and some counties destroy the originals once they are microfilmed.

Bunch and Barton had no predictions for New Year’s business.

“You know, I have no guess,” Bunch said. “We had seven on Thursday and seven on Friday. That was a 10-fold increase over last year for the two days before Christmas. We might be busy New Year’s. We’ll be open.”