Magistrates offices in both Greensboro and High Point perform marriage ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday by appointment. This information was incorrect in the original article.
GREENSBORO — The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t deterred some couples from tying the knot.
Despite social-distancing rules, limits on crowd size and the difficulty of finding an officiant or a reception venue, couples still show up at county Register of Deeds offices seeking that all-important license to wed.
“I have kind of been surprised at how steady it’s been,” said Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County’s register of deeds, whose office issues more than 3,000 marriage licenses a year.
On March 23, Thigpen’s office began taking applications only by appointment to reinforce social distancing.
Yet on April 3 alone, 14 couples applied, “which was more than I thought we would be doing right now,” Thigpen said.
February 2019 was relatively light for marriage licenses at Guilford County’s Register of Deeds office, with 167 issued.
“That is very light for any month,” said Andrew Adkins, Guilford’s assistant register of deeds.
This year, February was back to normal levels at 201, Adkins said.
Adkins and Lynne Johnson, Register of Deeds in Forsyth County, say that the number of licenses granted held steady in March, compared with the same period last year.
In Rockingham County, however, licenses increased 21% in February and March, compared with same period in 2019.
Rockingham County Register of Deeds Benjamin J. Curtis issued 85 marriage licenses in February and March, up from 70 for the same period last year.
That growth came particularly in March, with 36 licenses issued in March 2019 and 49 issued in March 2020.
But April numbers so far have dropped for each office, compared with last year.
As of Friday, Guilford had issued 90 licenses in April, compared with 323 in all of April 2019.
“We really would have to have a jump to get 323 or anywhere close to that for the remainder of the month,” Adkins said.
Forsyth County had issued 68, compared with 218 in April 2019.
Rockingham County, 23, compared with 54 in all of April 2019.
The April 13 storm could have put a damper on applications, said Mable Scott, Rockingham County public information officer.
“The month is not over, and I’m sure Cupid is very busy,” Scott said.
Like Guilford, other local Register of Deeds offices now ask couples to make appointments to obtain marriage licenses.
Licenses are good for 60 days. So Registers of Deeds don’t know until that period expires how many couples actually took the plunge.
Curtis suggests that those who plan large weddings should wait before obtaining their license.
Magistrates offices in both Greensboro and High Point perform marriage ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday by appointment.
Amanda Life and Donminick Nichols of Greensboro, who had been told Greensboro magistrates weren't performing ceremonies, headed to High Point.
Life, 31, and Nichols, 36, obtained their marriage license on April 9 at Guilford’s Register of Deeds office.
They had planned to get married on May 22, before a magistrate.
But when they heard that they would have to go to High Point for the ceremony, Life said, “We decided to go ahead and get married and not have to worry about it.”
So on April 15, they exchanged vows before High Point Magistrate H.D. Brannon in the office’s small lobby.
Brannon stood behind the glass. With Life and Nichols were their two witnesses and Life’s son — and two strangers and a police officer who happened to be there.
They weren’t allowed to have their cell phones. So they took a wedding photo outside in the car.
They had planned to hold a cookout reception with family and friends on May 30 in a local park, after their May 22 wedding.
That will be delayed until mid or late June, Life said.
“It is a little bit of a bummer to have to wait so long to have that celebration,” Life said.
Their wedding trip to the mountains or beach, too, will have to wait.