City clerk celebrates Laguna’s first civil marriage

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Gustav Eriksson and Sheila Olsen met in town at Nick’s Restaurant on February 19, 2012. “I was dining alone, and Gustav came in and sat right next to me,” Olsen said. They struck up a conversation and it was love at first sight.

City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker will perform the first civil wedding ceremony at Laguna Beach next week for Gustav Eriksson and Sheila Olsen.Photo by Jody Tiongco.

Next week, they will become the first couple to marry in a civil ceremony performed by City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker at City Hall.

A new state law, which came into effect Jan. 1, gives elected municipal clerks across the state the power to conduct civil marriage ceremonies. Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1525 by Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal last September.

Before city hall established a protocol to accommodate the new law, Olsen had contacted the city clerk’s office, excited about getting married right here in town, said Chel-Walker, who turned set to work to collect the necessary documents including a special marriage certificate for couples to mate here.

Olsen, an artist, said that she and Eriksson, a lawyer, had both been drawn to Laguna for years. She was dividing her time between her home in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Laguna Beach, and Eriksson, who had grown up in Orange County, was already living here when they met. “Now, here we are two years later, the first people to get married at Laguna Beach Town Hall,” Olsen marveled. They plan to get married on Thursday, February 19, the anniversary of their first fateful meeting.

Until her wedding investigation, Olsen didn’t know she had another admirer at Town Hall. One of his paintings embellishes Chel-Walker’s office. The chosen one had never met the artist but bought the painting because she loved it, never imagining that she would play a role in portraying the artist’s wedding.

Couples wishing to get married in Laguna Beach must first obtain a marriage license from the Orange County Clerk’s Office. They can then contact the city clerk’s office to plan their wedding, and a nominal fee will be associated with the service.

“I am delighted to offer this service which will broaden the social engagement of citizens by giving them another positive reason to come to Town Hall and be greeted during one of the happiest moments of their lives” , said Chel-Walker.

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