A young woman wearing a simple white wedding gown descended the stairs into the waiting area of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office on Thursday, clutching the arm of her soon-to-be husband. They carefully made their way to the receptionist's desk to pick up an application for a marriage license before their afternoon wedding.

"I think that anywhere Maria is is the most romantic place in the world," said Daniel Garcia, 29, an Army specialist and medic.

It all makes sense after reading a study released Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal commissioned Facebook to declare the 50 most romantic cities in the country, and guess who made the top of the list? Nope, not San Francisco with its gorgeous, foggy scenery. Not New York City with its never-ending nightlife. That's right - Colorado Springs. Now go pick your jaw up off the floor and kiss your sweetheart.

The folks at Facebook chose a month at random - October - and ranked major U.S. cities according to the percentage of singles that went from "Single" to "In a relationship," the article reported.

"I do think it's romantic, the scenery is beautiful," said Garcia's fiancee, Maria Cristina, 29. "There's beautiful weather here."

The Wall Street Journal story spread rapidly on - you guessed it - Facebook.

"It's probably all the sunshine and being outside," said Sarah Martin, who popped in to shop at CJ Kard, a greeting card and gift store downtown. "I think when you walk outside and it just feels nice and you look at Pikes Peak and feel more in love anyway, it's easy to pass that feeling on to somebody. You say I feel so beautiful and you pass somebody and you think you look so beautiful and I want to give you a big hug."

Martin should know. She met her boyfriend while teaching a yoga class in Monument Valley Park a year and a half ago.

In the middle of a day of nonstop gift wrapping, Karen Rivera, Terra Verde's marketing person, called foul.

"I thought the headline ("Facebook: Springs is the place for romance") was a little deceptive because it analyzed the number of people heading into a relationship in Colorado Springs," she said. "That means when a deployment happens, everybody bonds, so as a single woman, why would you want to come to a place where everybody's in a relationship?"

She did back down some, though.

"We have firefighters and soldiers - you put a man in uniform and that's romantic."

Charles Zerbe, owner of Zerbe Jewelers, wasn't surprised by Facebook's finding. He meets romantic men every day, and ring sales are up, especially in the military category.

"We've got one squadron where I think we've married about half of the guys now," he said.

Would he use the most romantic city designation as advertising fodder?

"I wouldn't say I would be above it," he said. "I don't know if it's got legs, but it's a thought."

It's more about chemicals for the owner of Hyacinth's Boutique and Spa, who finds her city rife with romance.

"It's an issue of the high altitude," Claudine Malcolm-Telley said. "It warps our brain. We exercise a lot and the dopamine makes us happy and happy people fall in love. I'm not surprised."

She met her husband at a gas station. He walked up to her as she filled up her car, told her she was pretty and gave her his phone number.

"That line would never have worked on me in New York," she said.


Contact Jennifer Mulson: 636-0270 and jen.mulson@gazette.com