New Year's Eve a time of weddings at courthouse
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 31, 2004 at 10:21 p.m.
On Monday, Alisha Wilson of Hawthorne and her fiance, L.C. King III of Gainesville, wondered what they would do for New Year's Eve.
On Tuesday, they got their marriage license - just in time to implement their hastily hatched New Year's Eve plan - to get hitched.
On Friday, they were among seven couples to be married in the tiny chapel inside the Alachua County Courthouse.
The spartan room across the hall from the marriage license office - made more festive with a tasteful smattering of wedding decorations - is a busy place on New Year's Eve, Alachua County Clerk of the Court Buddy Irby said. He said Dec. 31 is second only to Valentine's Day in popularity for courthouse weddings.
"It's a special day, and a lot of people seem to want to get married on New Year's Eve," Irby said. "It's romantic."
The King-Wilson nuptials was the third wedding he had performed by early afternoon.
"I do," said the beaming new Mrs. King, 20, who seemed throughout the 10-minute ceremony about to burst any moment into unrestrained bliss.
With "I do" and an exchange of vows of faithfulness, honesty and love, they slipped rings on each other's fingers. The giddy bride started putting the ring on King's right hand, and Irby gently reminded her that it went on the other hand.
"I've been antsy all day," said Mrs. King, manager of the CVS/Pharmacy next to North Florida Regional Medical Center.
She worked part of Friday morning until her colleagues told her to leave. Her husband, a 27-year-old correctional officer at Gainesville Correctional Institution, was scheduled to work the night shift Friday.
"We'll celebrate the new year in the parking lot at work," said King, who was joined at the ceremony by his parents, Frances and L.C. King Jr.
"We'll be on our honeymoon in the parking lot," his wife said. "We're going to get some grape juice and some little glasses and celebrate at midnight."
On her side of the "aisle" was the Hawthorne delegation: her mother, Stacy Nelson, her grandmother, Sonja Wood, and her 4-month-old daughter, Denashia.
"There are four generations of us here," Wood said.
The newlyweds said they originally planned to marry in June. But in discussing their New Year's Eve plans, both said "Why not?"
"We'll still have a ceremony in June for other family and friends to enjoy with us," King said.
His wife said that after deciding to tie the knot early, they had a busy week looking for an apartment.
"We don't live together, so we had to scramble to find something," she said. "We thought we'd get married on New Year's Eve and start the new year all fresh."
Romance isn't always the only reason people marry on New Year's Eve. Sometimes there can be tax advantages for doing so.
"If you married the last day of the year, it's the same as if you were married all year for tax purposes," said Cliff Gionet, a certified public accountant with the Gainesville firm Gionet & Pierstorff.
"If you're married filing jointly, the tax tables tend to be more beneficial than for two single people," he said.
But he cautions clients not to just assume they'll be better off taxwise by rushing to get married within a given year. Complex issues are involved, he said, "and there is no clear-cut tax advantage in every situation."
"I would never marry for any supposed tax advantages," Gionet said. "We really argue for people to think long and hard and what their situation is . . . You really have to do the math."
Irby said his office stays open on New Year's Eve for more than end-of-the-year weddings.
"We record a lot of last-minute closings on houses, too," he said. "And we always have a lot of traffic tickets. People like to clean things up at the end of the year."
Rather than tidying up the old year, two of his customers Friday, hearts newly united, were looking lovingly ahead.
"It's one of those meant-to-be type things," King said before heading off with his family to a new year and a new life.
Bob Arndorfer can be reached at (352) 374-5042 or arndorb@ gvillesun.com.
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