Economical ways to tie the knot


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Why spend thousands of dollars renting a hall. In this economy, lots of people told 7 On Your Side they'd rather save for a nice honeymoon ot a meal. We met dozens of couples who found a good way to do just that.

It was a blissful wedding for Danine and Ronnie Wilson.

Friends snapped pictures, a little girl clutched flowers, mom wiped away tears, and the groom fumbled the ring. Then it was official.

You might never guess this quaint chapel is tucked inside the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Office.

"It was cute, lots of room for the family," said Danine Wilson.

For just $50, couples can tie the knot in a setting reminiscent of a small town chapel, complete with a robed commissioner and seating for 25.

On this day, a dozen marriages began right here.

"We're involved in all the good stuff. Across the street is divorce court, we don't have anything to do with that," said Deputy Marriage Commissioner Joe Mallon.

Newlyweds say it saves them a lot of money, as they start married life during a terrible economic time.

"The difference is thousands of dollars," said Danine Wilson.

"Save our money for the honeymoon," said Christopher Melendez.

"You save a lot of money and you can videotape it and everything and take pictures," said Cheri Draper-Austin.

"We have people who come in with full wedding dress, the limousines, the tuxedos and sometimes people come in casually with just a few guests," said Alameda County Chief Clerk Kevin Hing.

Hing says about 800 couples have married here so far this year.

"Many people are surprised to see we have a very nice wedding ceremony," said Hing.

Some couples choose their own music and vows, while others use the wise words of the county clerk.

Alameda isn't the only county offering a pleasant wedding venue for a low fee.

In San Francisco, couples can marry atop the grand staircase in the City Hall rotunda, for $70.

In Marin, couples can tie the knot in a lush garden beside a fountain pool outside the Civic Center building for $56.

In San Mateo County, couples marry in the cozy chapel for $65, and for an extra $50 you can have the wedding broadcast live on the Internet.

Wedding rooms in Santa Clara County cost $80 and in Contra Costa $60.

In Alameda County, the lobby is crowded by afternoon with nervous couples and well wishers, mixing with those getting birth certificates and property deeds.

"We just wanted to just make it simple," said Kelly.

Kelly and Mike brought a big wedding party.

"I love marrying people here. It's the happiest day of their lives," said Mallon.

The prices we quoted are for the ceremony alone, you also need a marriage certificate no matter where you get married, and those range from about $60 to $90, depending on which county issues it.

Marriage information for each county:

  • San Francisco County
  • Marin County
  • Contra Costa County
  • San Mateo County
  • Santa Clara County
  • Alameda County
  • Sonoma County
  • Napa County

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