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Vacant snack shop used for thousands of marriage services during pandemic  

Source: County of San Diego

Photos by Jordan Marks, County of San Diego

June 29, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Clerk’s Office has been recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACo) with a 2021 NACo Achievement Award for innovative excellence in County Administration of Management. The Clerk’s office was recognized for transforming a vacant snack shop into the “Marriage Hut” in order to continue issuing marriage licenses and perform ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With over 1,600 couples with appointments to be married, on March 19, 2020 Governor Newsom issued a “Stay at Home” executive order effectively closing all county buildings across the State of California. Within 24 hours of the shutdown order, the County Clerk staff transformed a vacant snack shop outside San Diego County’s waterfront office into the “Marriage Hut,” a COVID-19 safe marriage service facility.  The NACo award recognized the innovation of the San Diego Clerk’s Office to continue operations and honor their commitment to the couples that already had appointments. In addition, it recognized their leadership inspiring the other county offices across California to find a pathway to reopen and continue serving the public.

San Diego County Clerk Ernie Dronenburg said, “The pandemic shut down everything, but in San Diego we didn’t let it shut down love.” Dronenburg concluded, “My staff rose to the challenge and within 24 hours of being issued a statewide shutdown order, found an innovative way to keep love alive by converting an empty snack shop into a “marriage hut” to safely provide marriage services.” 

The San Diego County Clerk’s office in a normal year issues around 25,000 marriage  licenses.  During 2020, under COVID-19 restrictions, the office issued 17,286 marriage licenses.  The award‑winning “Marriage Hut” continues in operation today and is now a requested venue for couples to tie the knot in San Diego County.

NACo President Gary Moore said, “Over the past year, county officials and frontline employees have demonstrated bold, inspirational leadership.” Moore continued, “This year’s Achievement Award winning programs illustrate the innovative ways counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.” 

Book your appointment for love with the San Diego County Clerk at