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Numbers align for couples wanting to get married

Couples excited about 11/11/11 booked local wedding chapels months in advance to ensure the special date was theirs.

November 12, 2011|By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
  • Christian and Javon Coye, who tied the knot at the Long Beach Wedding Center at 11 a.m. on 11/11/11, said they have family members who got married on 7/7/07 or 8/8/08.
Christian and Javon Coye, who tied the knot at the Long Beach Wedding Center… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Christian and Javon Coye had been searching for a lucky date to make their 10-year relationship official.

The 30-year-olds from Los Angeles said they had family members who got married on 7/7/07 and others who tied the knot on 8/8/08.

So on Friday, with the L.A. County clerk's office closed for Veterans Day, they were among the hordes of superstitious brides and grooms who streamed into private wedding chapels, eager to exchange vows on 11/11/11.

"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 even snagged the most-coveted appointment — 11, of course — at the Long Beach Wedding Center only because of a last-minute cancellation.

The small storefront chapel with rosy pink decor typically holds two or three weddings a day, but because of the mania to get hitched on such a fortuitous date, the center was booked Friday from 6 a.m. until midnight, every hour on the hour.

At their 11 a.m. ceremony, Christian and Javon, dressed casually in jeans and white tops, tied the knot under a silver-hued arch festooned with pink and white paper flowers, butterflies and ceramic cherubs.

"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 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 rings on each other's fingers.

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 drawn by the day's unique numerical quality.

The Los Angeles Wedding Chapel, down the street from the county clerk's office in Norwalk, was fully booked and stayed open late to cater to the crush of brides and grooms.

The Albertson Wedding Chapel in L.A.'s Mid-Wilshire district had its 11 a.m. appointment reserved a year in advance and was planning to perform ceremonies 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'" on that day.

Would-be brides and grooms attuned to the date began calling to book weddings at the Long Beach Wedding Center months ago, Otto said. As the date drew near, couples placed last-minute calls and showed up spontaneously 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 as he was 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, and newlyweds are sent on their way with an official marriage license in their hands.

For the newlywed Coyes (he's an accountant, she's a probation officer), 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."

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