Surge of 11/11/11 nuptials keeps wedding chapels busy
With the L.A. County clerk's office closed for Veterans Day, they were among the hordes of superstitious brides and grooms that streamed into private wedding chapels Friday, eager to tie the knot on 11/11/11.
The 30-year-olds from Los Angeles said family members had already wed on 7/7/07 and 8/8/08. Christian, a tax accountant, surprised Javon, a probation officer, a few days ago by suggesting they get married on Friday.
"I hear 7 is lucky, 11 is lucky," Christian said. "11/11/11 was coming up so we said, why not? Let's do it."
They snagged the most-coveted appointment -- 11 a.m., of course -- at the Long Beach Wedding Center only because of a last-minute cancellation.
The small storefront chapel with rosy pink decor typically celebrates two or three marriages a day, but the mania to marry on such a fortuitous date had them booked Friday from 6 a.m. until midnight, every hour on the hour.
"I just want to let you know that I love you," Christian told Javon, his voice choked with emotion as he wiped tears from his face. "I'm sorry that it took so long for this to happen, but I'm glad that it's today."
Peter Otto, the presiding officiant, offered some sound marriage advice (Don't go to bed angry, confide in each other, ask for help if you need it) before instructing the couple to put a ring on each other's finger.
And with that they were pronounced husband and wife. After a long kiss, the only thing left to do was pose for pictures while "Chapel of Love" played on a boom box.
They weren't the only ones.
Los Angeles Wedding Chapel, just down the street from the county clerk's office in Norwalk, was fully booked and staying open late to cater to the crush of brides and grooms.
The Albertson Wedding Chapel in Los Angeles' mid-Wilshire district had its 11 a.m. appointment reserved a year in advance and was planning to perform ceremonies right up until 11:45 p.m.
"Everybody wants 11/11/11. It's a very spiritual number," said wedding officiant Fernando Howard. "The last couple of weeks we've had people begging: Can you let us in? It's a magic day. We've got to get married today."
Would-be brides and grooms attuned to the numerological significance of 11/11/11 began calling to book weddings at the Long Beach Wedding Center months ago, Otto said. As the date drew nearer, couples placed last-minute calls and showed up spontaneously just to see if their nuptials could be squeezed in.
There's been so much demand that the chapel has had to turn couples away, even after offering off-site ceremonies at the beach and a nearby lighthouse.
"Even compared to last year--10/10/10--we have an even greater amount of interest," Otto said, buried in a stack of wedding licenses at his desk in the chapel's back office. "People want to be a part of that magic."
For as little as $350, couples can be married by an ordained minister in a simple ceremony. Weddings are performed in under an hour, sending newlyweds on their way with an official marriage license in their hands.
For the newlywed Coyes, there was no celebratory dinner or honeymoon planned. Just a day at the movies with their son and daughter.
But there should be no trouble remembering their anniversary.
"There's a lot of ones in there," Christian said, "so hopefully I won't forget it."
Photo: Christian and Javon Coye exchange wedding vows at 11:11 a.m. on 11/11/11 with Pastor Peter Otto officiating at the Long Beach Wedding Center. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times