A photo showing the wedding ceremony of Julie Honse and Brian Behrens.
After walking down the aisle to David Bowie's Modern Love, Hilda Barraza Ortiz officiated the wedding of Julie Honse and Brian Behrens at the 14th Street Chapel in Downtown Riverside. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

Approximately 60 couples were expected to tie the knot across six facilities run by the Riverside County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder’s office, including the 14th Street Chapel in Downtown Riverside.

“We started taking appointments earlier in the year, and even late last year, and now we’re at a point where we’re fully booked,” Mannix Llaneras, a supervising deputy assessor-clerk-recorder (ACR) tech assigned to the 14th Street Chapel, said. “We have about 14 ceremonies scheduled for today.”

Despite being the only facility that requires couples to pay in advance, Hilda Barraza Ortiz, who officiated Wednesday’s weddings, said the chapel is often fully booked on holidays like Valentine’s Day, Leap Day and even Halloween.

“This is a job that I enjoy doing,” she said. “So far, it’s been a thrill for me.”

And while Barraza Ortiz had a difficult time picking a single wedding from the last five years that left a lasting impression, she said it was the older couples whose stories she really enjoyed getting to know.

“It’s cute to see a young couple get married, and you envy that energy, but when you see an older couple get married, it’s very heartfelt. It’s passionate. It’s true,” she said. “Every couple has a story.”

Julie Honse and Brian Behrens pose for a photo outside of the chapel ahead of their ceremony. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

One such couple was Julie Honse and Brian Behrens who have been together since first crossing paths more than 17 years ago.

“A client just hired us and hired my partner’s agency to work on that event that we were producing, and we did not like each other at all,” Honse said. “Everything was done over conference calls back in those days, and then one day we met in real life and the clouds parted.”

The pair, who walked down the aisle to David Bowie’s Modern Love, chose to get married on Valentine’s Day as a bit of an inside joke between the two.

“We’re ironically getting married, because we have never been Valentine’s Day people,” Honse said. “We are in the process of moving to Portugal, and we have embassy appointments in April, and we’ve been told you need to go with a name that you want to keep forever due to the bureaucracy of changing your name in Portugal. … Very romantic.”

When asked what they loved most about each other, both Honse and Behrens gave the same answer. They loved how they each challenged one another to be better versions of themselves.

As for advice for other lovebirds, Honse encouraged them to take it slow.

“There’s so many challenges that life throws at you, and the test of that relationship is how you work together to overcome those challenges,” Honse said. “And a short time frame does not give you very many challenges, typically.”

Jessica and Devonte Gordon pose for a photo with their son following their ceremony. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

Jessica and Devonte Gordon also waited to get married, but unlike for Honse and Behrens, their spark was immediate when they met eight years ago.

“He was basically, he was my supervisor, and I was the employee,” Jessica said with a laugh. “We couldn’t date during that time, so I decided to quit the job so we could actually start dating. Just follow the rules because I didn’t want to affect his job.”

The couple said the decision to get married on Valentine’s Day just made sense to them as people who love love. 

“He knows Valentine’s [Day] is like a big thing for me,” Jessica said. “We always go all out for each other, it’s really a celebration.”

Another thing that just made sense, having their 3-year-old son serve as the ring bearer at the ceremony.

“It’s the best,” Jessica said.

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When it comes to what the two loved most about each other, it again came back to one word, “love.”

“He’s very kind, he loves me unconditionally even when I’m a headache and very out of control,” Jessica said with a laugh. “And he’s just a great dad, a great dad to our baby, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

For Devonte, it’s the way Jessica “holds it down,” at home, takes care of their son and cares for him.

“Just the way she loves me, it’s different,” he said with a smile. “Her love is like the best love I’ve ever experienced and ever had in my whole life.”

As for their advice for other couples thinking about getting married, the pair said they should just do it.

“As long as you guys are together, you guys are side by side and stuff like that, I think you will do just fine,” Devonte said. “As long as you guys are there with each other, that’s all that matters.”

Saronia Garlington and Dominic Acoff pose for a photo outside of the chapel ahead of their ceremony. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

When it comes to standing side by side, Saronia Garlington and Dominic Acoff have that one down pat. The pair, who first met on OkCupid, have been through it all.

“We did everything backwards,” Garlington said. “We had our kids and we bought a house together, so now it’s like the last touch is getting married.”

The couple originally planned to have the ceremony halfway between their birthdays, but it fell on a Saturday, which Garlington explained would have been more expensive than the small Valentine’s Day ceremony at the 14th Street Chapel.

“They’re originally from Mission Viejo, and then I’m from Corona,” she said. “So, it’s kind of like a halfway point here, so it was kind of cute.”

Garlington said she loved how passionate and loyal Acoff is, while Acoff said he loved how she was with their two children, who missed school for the ceremony, and her happy-go-lucky personality.

Yesenia Nipper and Adam Chandler pose for a photo outside of the chapel ahead of their ceremony. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez/TN News)

Yesenia Nipper and Adam Chandler also said they loved each other’s personalities. For Nipper, it’s the way Chandler makes her laugh just by being himself, and for Chandler, it’s the way she smiles at him.

The pair, who met on Facebook, said they were excited to get married after six years of dating.

“When you can’t go a day without someone, that’s how you know you truly love them,” Chandler said. “You only have one life to live, so you might as well live it.”

Ceremonies at the 14th Street Chapel are $120 and must be booked in advance with the ACR office. More information can be found here on the office’s website.

TN News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet providing Riverside County with high-quality journalism free of charge. We’re able to do this because of the generous donations of supporters like you!

Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.