Entering a marriage is a leap of faith. This year, couples can choose to take that leap on the most appropriate day of all, February 29.
“Leap day is a unique and interesting wedding date,” says Katie Brownstein, who handles communication at the wedding planning site Joy. “While the downside is that couples can only celebrate their true anniversary once every four years and must celebrate on another date on non-leap years, the upside is that couples with leap day weddings have a rare and memorable anniversary date, which loved ones are unlikely to forget.”
Katie says this leap day is shaping up to be a popular wedding date. So far, 13% of all February 2020 weddings registered on Joy are on leap day. The day is second only to February 22, or 2/22/2020.
Oregon couple Helen and Chris Hedgepeth answered the call for readers to share leap day love stories. They were married on leap day in 1996.
“It was Chris who picked 2/29—also his brother’s birthday,” Helen says. “I told him if he thought he would only have to celebrate once every four years, he was mistaken. I informed him that the other three years we would celebrate it on the 28th and 1st because 28+1=29.”
This year, the Hedgepeths celebrate their sixth leap year anniversary, though they’ve actually been married 24 years.
“My husband jokes we have a 21-year-old born in wedlock, but will only be celebrating our sixth anniversary,” Helen says.
At least one pair the couple knows has followed in the Hedgepeths’ footsteps.
“Years later, I worked with a lady who thought it was great we took the leap on leap year,” Helen says. “She got married February 29, 2012.”
Amy and Stan Craig fell into a leap year wedding 12 years ago. The Utah couple knew they were getting married, but hadn’t picked a date. They went to fill out the paperwork for a wedding license not even realizing it was leap day.
“The lady says, ‘Do you guys want to get married today on leap day? I’ll go get the justice of the peace,’” Amy says.
Stan turned to her and asked, “Do you want to? I want to.”
They hadn’t even bought Stan’s ring yet, so they rushed to the mall to pick one up. Back at the courthouse, they took their vows in T-shirts and jeans sharing a batch of caramel corn. Later, their family—especially Amy’s younger sister who set them up—gave them grief for the swift guest-free wedding. They got the most grief for not taking a single photograph.
“If it wasn’t leap day, I think we would have waited to get married,” Amy says. “I don’t think we would have got married right that second at the courthouse.”
The rare wedding date helped Amy bond with her friends Heather and John Rokus. They married on February 29, 2012. Heather says it was a second marriage for both of them, so they kept it simple and had a party at their house after.
“We decided to get married in February, and my daughter said, ‘Do it on my birthday, February 22—and I wasn’t going to do it then,” Heather says.
Instead, the couple embraced the leap year option.
“Then I found out that Amy was married on leap day,” Heather says. “I felt like we had a connection, that commonality. You can’t usually copy someone on that date because you may have to wait four years. You’d have to plan that out. It’s pretty cool.”
Heather says the only person who teases her about the date is her mother, who regularly wishes her a happy anniversary on the 28th, which Heather says will never happen.
Jasmine DePompeo and Harold Hickey are set to marry on this year’s leap day. The couple met more than three years ago while stationed in Bahrain.
“It was Bahrain National Day, and there was a big party at the Bahrain Rugby Club where we met through mutual friends,” Jasmine says. “We went to the Naval Academy and graduated the same year, but just didn’t know each other at school.”
Jasmine says when they got engaged in November 2018, they started looking at potential dates.
“And we’re like, ‘Oh, man, leap day falls on a Saturday, and that would be so cool,’” she says.
Booking a venue and vendors for the popular date wasn’t a big deal.
“We booked really early,” Jasmine says. “I’m just a big planner, so I booked everything right away.”
As for celebrating, Jasmine says, “I think we’re just going to have a huge anniversary celebration every four years. Obviously, we’ll acknowledge it in between, but we’ll do something over the top, go on a trip or really go crazy with it every leap day because it’s kind of cool that it only comes every four years.”
Megan Gaskin and Kenny Bowe picked this leap year as their wedding date, too.
“When we were talking about getting engaged, we were looking at the calendar,” Megan says. “And he said, 2020 is a leap year. And we said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re doing that.’ We knew before we were even engaged that we would do it leap day.”
Megan has cousins planning wedding dates, too, but she’s convinced her date is the best.
“I feel like our date is so much more fun and interesting,” she says. “People always have questions about it. It’s so much better than a boring any other day.”