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The most romantic day

LAWRENCEVILLE - Twenty-three years ago, John Castrillon asked Maria Granados to be his valentine.

On Tuesday, she became his wife.

The couple, who consider Valentine's Day 1983 to be the beginning of their relationship, exchanged vows Tuesday, along with 65 other couples at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. At the annual Valentine's Day celebration, 12 couples renewed their vows.

The bride wiped away tears as the pair exchanged vows in Spanish, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

The couple's oldest daughter, who carried the rings, acted as translator.

"After so long, they wanted to get married," the daughter, Vanessa, said. "He asked her out on Valentine's Day 23 years ago, and he wanted to make the wedding special."

Just minutes later, the Castrillon bridal party left and the Etienne bridal party arrived.

"Don't be nervous. This is going to be fun," said Judge Jan Moja, as Cheryl Patton filmed her daughter walking forward to begin the ceremony.

With 1-year-old Jadon playing with balloons, his parents, Patrick and April Etienne, joined hands and hearts.

"Valentine's Day is romantic. You always remember that day," said the bride, who was dressed in white, with white flowers in her hair.

"And you can kill two birds with one stone," Patrick Etienne said with a laugh, referring to celebrating the day of romance and an anniversary all in one.

For the annual event, a courtroom was decorated in red and white, with balloons, streamers, flowers and paper hearts.

"Most of the things we do aren't much fun," Judge Moja said. "This is the one day we get to be a little giddy."

Ceremonies only take minutes at a time. Then the marriage covenant is sealed with a kiss.

"Today's a very special day - the love day," said Beatriz Chavez, who married her beau, Jose, on Tuesday.