- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2013

They came out of convenience, for necessity, because they could, and so they wouldn’t forget.

On Wednesday, while throngs of people filed into D.C. Superior Court to pay bills or answer for their crimes, in a quiet corner of the marriage bureau, 14 couples started the first day of their married lives on Valentine's Day.

Under a modest white canopy decorated with flowers, red rose petals scattered on the maroon carpet, Lewisberry, Pa., residents Michael Lausterer and Stephen Jarvis II said their vows to one another.

“This is a Valentine's Day gift for the both of us,” said Mr. Lausterer, 42, who made the three-hour trip with Mr. Jarvis, 32.

“We’ve got good company, and what better day to tie the knot?” Mr. Lausterer said.

The marriage court sees about a half-dozen couples on an average day, spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said, but in the spring, and on Valentine's Day, the number doubles. On Thursday, the court was the site of 14 marriage ceremonies.

The first couple to make it official was McKinley and Renee White, D.C. residents and fellow U.S. Capitol Police officers.

Joined by more than a dozen family members and friends, the two tied the knot in matching colors, she in a bronze sequined dress and satin heels, he in a black tuxedo with a rust-colored bow tie.

The pair met while working security for the president’s State of the Union address three years ago.

The couple put an official title to a relationship that Mr.White said had never been limited by a status or name.

“I knew I wanted to do it,” he said, before his bride chimed in that “He called and said, ‘We’re getting married.’”

The groom, 47, said he called the courthouse about a month ago, and when he found out a slot was open on Valentine's Day, he pounced.

Valentine's Day is always special anyway, and it was an opportunity to get married,” he said. “I saw the opening to get married on that day. I was excited I would remember it.”

The two took a long weekend off from work and will celebrate a mini-honeymoon in town before their Caribbean cruise later this year.

“We’ll stay in town, but we’ll be away,” Renee White, 45, said with a wink. “We’re going to have a good time.”

Henry Ramirez and Ester Galeas married alone, with only an interpreter to witness their union, but that was enough for the couple.

“We’re so excited,” said Mr. Ramirez, 38, who said he and Ms. Galeas, 29, had been planning their quiet wedding for a year. “We have good memories of Valentine's Day. And we won’t forget our anniversary.”

Michael Cantilo and Justine Caccamo won’t forget their anniversary date either, though they’re hoping to keep it a secret from their families for a bit longer.

The fellow Navy officers from the District settled for a courthouse ceremony, just the two of them and their officiant, to ensure the military would not split them up next year if Ms. Caccamo is reassigned to a new station for work.

“We’ll have a big ceremony next year,” Ms. Caccamo said.

She wore a short white dress, satin, sparkly heels and a white veil. Mr. Cantilo, 29, wore a black suit and white bow tie.

The two got engaged in Sicily, Italy, after an elaborate scheme concocted by Mr. Cantilo brought his soon-to-be fiancee to the appropriately named Caccamo Castle, along with an entire village eager to take part.

“We came [to the courthouse] in January,” Mr. Cantilo said, and they signed up for one of the remaining Feb. 14 slots.

For Mr. Lausterer and Mr. Jarvis, they said they’ll be spending the day touring the sites around the District.

Pennsylvania does not recognize same-sex marriages, so the couple had to decide where they wanted their union, which will be recognized in the District and Maryland but not when they return to Pennsylvania.

“We’d been looking at different locations but decided to do it in the nation’s capital,” Mr. Lausterer said.

“You know that idea of love at first sight,” Mr. Jarvis said. “We met each other one time, and it’s been perfect ever since.”