If you were to ask Modesto resident Vanessa Martinez what Valentine’s Day meant to her prior to Tuesday, she likely would have said that it had little to no significance to her. That all changed this Valentine’s Day, however, when she and fiancé David Martinez joined nearly 50 other couples who converged at the historic McHenry Mansion in downtown Modesto to say “I do” during the sixth annual “Marriage at the Mansion” event.
“To be honest, I’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s Day,” said Vanessa. “But now it’s a day that we share our love because we got married.
“There’s no way I could forget this day now,” added David.
Vanessa said that she and David originally met through a mutual friend a couple of years ago. After seeing Vanessa for the first time, David reached out to her on social media and asked for her number. They have been dating since August 2015.
Stanislaus County Clerk/Recorder and Commissioner of Civil Marriages Lee Lundrigan said that 20 volunteers and about a dozen staff members helped during Tuesday’s day-long wedding extravaganza, which initially began in 2003.
“We had five in a row and then there was some financial issues in the late 2000s so we stopped it for a little while,” said Lundrigan. “We thought it was time to get it started again. It’s been 10 years since we’ve held this event.”
Despite the dozens of couples that said their vows at McHenry Mansion Tuesday, each wedding ceremony was individualized, according to Lundrigan, who said that each couple was also encouraged to bring 15 of their closest friends and family to celebrate with them.
“I think it’s very unique,” said Lundrigan. “It’s the most beautiful place in Modesto and it’s a very historic site. It gives people a very special wedding and for all those guys who can’t remember their wedding anniversaries, it’s Valentine’s Day so they’ve got it down.”
Of the 47 couples married Tuesday were Stevinson residents Cossette and Timothy Robertson, who met through their jobs at Amazon.
“The first time I saw her was over a unicorn,” said Timothy. “That’s kind of a weird thing to say, but we pack items out for customers and somebody ordered one and she was walking with it. After that, we hit things off and now here we are.”
Cossette said that she and Timothy have been dating since September and their common interest in cars played a role in their proposal as Timothy actually asked her to marry him in a car. The couple said that they will spend the next year planning their honeymoon and they are already looking forward to their next Valentine’s Day — and first wedding anniversary — together.
“In the past for me it’s been a hard holiday, but this is a chance to change all that and make it a special moment that I’ll always remember,” said Timothy.