CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bernadette Rodrigues shared a happy moment yesterday with her new husband, Daniel, as the couple was wed on Valentine's Day in a civil ceremony downtown. With the newlyweds were Shaun McKinnis, left, and Akiko Rodrigues.
27 couples pick civil ceremonies on Valentine's Day as the perfect way to say ...
She arrived here Feb. 3 on a "fiancée" visa that allows her to get married within 90 days.
So Keiko Arakane, 29, an account manager from Tokyo, and her sweetheart, Steve Wozniak, also 29, a Navy electronics technician aboard the submarine Los Angeles, showed up at the second-floor office of Hawaii Civil Marriages' Kakaako location during lunch yesterday to say their "I dos," sans rings.
The two were among 27 couples who, for $60 and Hawaii marriage licenses in hand, got hitched during 15-minute civil ceremonies on what is regarded as the most romantic day of the year.
An average of 60 couples would show up at marriage coordinator Debbie "Chickie" Guillaume's year-round business on Valentine's Day, when she first started her wedding business 24 years ago.
That number has tapered to about half, with yesterday's volume about the same as last year's, she said.
There are busy periods, particularly when there are military deployments, she said. But she is seeing more grooms proposing on Valentine's Day, then getting married at a later date.
That's how it was for Arakane and Wozniak, who met five years ago in Tokyo while he was stationed there.
They nurtured a long-distance relationship interspersed with occasional visits after he got transferred to San Diego. But on one of those visits, on Feb. 23, 2003, he popped the question while both were enjoying a furo bath at her apartment.
She said "yes," but changed her mind immediately after, not quite ready for marriage ... until three years later.
Under the Japanese calendar, which was inherited from the Chinese, there are days that are more conducive for funerals, celebrations and weddings, Arakane explained.
It just happened that Valentine's Day was a good day to get married. "It's taian today," she said. Taian, in Japanese, means "big happiness."
It was the second time around for both Joe Chilton, who works at U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, and Alicia Miyashiro, a cosmetic sales associate at Neiman Marcus.
The two met at Rumours three years ago and have been together since, enjoying dinners on the lanai of their Kakaako condo and sunset picnics at Ala Moana Park.
"I'm hoping nothing changes," said Chilton, gazing intently at his soon-to-be bride who carried a bouquet of pink roses and gerber daisies. "We just want to be with each other."
The two are planning a trip to Vegas in May to be married by Elvis.
It was a few minutes after 1 p.m., and the last couple in line was waiting for their turn.
Rajwant Bal and her fiance, Amar Purewal, both 31, already had a traditional Sikh religious wedding ceremony in Canada last October that was attended by 600 family members and friends.
But yesterday's ceremony and documentation was important because it meant their union would be recognized under U.S. law.
"Thereto, I pledge you my love, for richer and poorer, to love and to cherish, all the days of our lives," the two recited their vows as they gazed into each other's eyes.
She, in her red linen sheath and matching crocheted sweater, and he, in his spiffy white Navy uniform, couldn't stop smiling as they left the building, a light shower blessing their union.
Their plans for last night: a romantic dinner, a stroll around Waikiki and watching the sunset on the beach.