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Romance takes over county building

Posted: Thursday, Feb 14th, 2013

Moheene Gruney of Berkeley and Chad King of Richmond burst into laughter upon completing their marriage vows Thursday at the Santa Cruz County Building during a special Valentine's Day ceremony put on by the County Clerk's office. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).

SANTA CRUZ — Chad King and Moheene Gruney knew each other for nine years before they were married in a brief but boisterous ceremony on the top floor of the Santa Cruz County Building Thursday.

The couple traveled from the Bay Area to participate in the annual Valentine's Day ceremonies presented by County Clerk Gail Pellerin. They were one of 21 couples that tied the knot Thursday.

They said they chose Santa Cruz because they love it here, and because they wanted somewhere nice to celebrate their anniversary every year.

“It’s been a long time coming,” King said before the ceremony.

Gruney said she was inspired to have a civil wedding from the show “Sex and the City,” where the characters Carrie and Mr. Big were famously married in a courthouse.

The couple came with their parents, siblings and a clutch of children, all of whom were laughing and cheering on the couple. Gruney’s father, a professional steel drum player, kept the ceremony lively with a Caribbean beat, briefly transforming the normally quiet governmental center into a spontaneous shindig.

“Everyone who loves us is here,” Gruney said.

So lively was the event that the bride broke into a dance to the beat of her father’s drum after the new couple exchanged rings.

As Santa Cruz County Clerk Pellerin performed the ceremony, she told the couple to take their vows to heart.

“Nothing is easier than saying words, and nothing is harder than living them day after day,” she said.

Valentine's Day weddings have been a tradition at the county buildings since 2006, when Pellerin took the clerk’s job.

“I thought it would be great to do something for couples,” she said. “I’m a hopeless romantic.”

While officials once performed the ceremonies until midnight, couples still tie the knot through 8 p.m.

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