Wedded bliss will be available just across the Utah-Nevada state line this Valentine’s Day, as the city of West Wendover, Nev., starts issuing marriage licenses.
The wide spot on Interstate 80, about 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, is a popular destination for casino gaming and concerts. But the city on Wednesday will for the first time offer that other Nevada bordertown staple: quickie marriages.
“It felt like a natural to do it here, like a mini-Las Vegas,” said Jasie Holm, a West Wendover City council member, who spearheaded the marriage license effort.
The licenses are issued by Elko County, and for years people had to drive to Elko, the county seat, about 110 miles west of the Utah border. It’s taken three years of lobbying, “persistent to almost to the point of obnoxious,” Holm said, to get the county to give permission for a satellite office in West Wendover.
Holm, who is a caterer and owner of the Enola Gay Cafe on the Utah side of the border, said reaction has been positive, with more than 70 people calling to express interest since the city announced the plan earlier this month. Instead of high numbers of elopements, Holm said she expected couples on their second marriages might opt to get married in West Wendover.
Marriage licenses are $75, payable by credit card. The city won’t perform wedding ceremonies — couples have to make those arrangements themselves — though Holm said Mayor Daniel Corona will be in the office Wednesday and can act as officiant free of charge. “He’s already got three for sure,” Holm said.
To sweeten the deal, city clerk Anna Bartlome said, the first 10 couples who get a marriage license will receive gift baskets that include gift cards, spirits, and room and restaurant gift certificates from West Wendover businesses.
Anyone 18 or older with valid photo identification (a driver license or a passport) can get a marriage license; if someone has been married before, he or she must provide the date of last divorce. Applicants 16 or 17 years old can get a license if they have photo ID and parental consent, which means having the parent or guardian there in person with ID. Applicants 15 or younger still have to go to Elko and must have a court order approving the marriage.
The tradition of quickie marriages and elopements in Nevada recalls the days when most states had strenuous requirements for marriage, such as blood tests. Nowadays, most states don’t have such rules; in Salt Lake County, for example, two consenting adults can get a marriage license by showing up in person to the county clerk’s office, showing their ID, filling out a form and paying a $50 fee.
The West Wendover city offices, at 1111 N. Gene L. Jones Way, are open 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.