After Kimberly Kowalski went on a series of terrible dates, a co-worker offered to set her up on a blind date with some guy named Bucky.

She was skeptical at first – both because of the nickname and his initial pitch to have their first date at a pizza place in Yarmouth – but she clicked with Jameson Buck during phone conversations and agreed to a date on Leap Day, Feb. 29, 2016.

“I remember saying this would be a cool anniversary if this works out,” Kowalski said.

It did. On this Leap Day – the fourth anniversary of their first date – Kowalski and Buck will marry at All Faiths Chapel at Southern Maine Community College. Theirs is among at least three Leap Day weddings happening in the Portland area.

Local wedding planners and caterers say Leap Day weddings are rare, but that’s not unexpected, given that February isn’t a popular month for weddings in Maine and Leap Days come only every four years. And it’s only every 28 years that Leap Day falls on a Saturday, the most popular day for weddings.

The popular wedding website The Knot includes Leap Day on a list of holidays couples should avoid for weddings. Marrying in a leap year is traditionally considered bad luck in Greece and Italy, although the day is celebrated in other cultures. In China, many believe that a leap year is an auspicious time to tie the knot. Leap Day itself holds a special place in Scotland, where an old tradition and a law passed in 1288 allowed women to propose to their beaus only every four years.

Those superstitions and traditions hold little weight for Liam Kelleher and Jane Murdoch of Wenham, Massachusetts, whose Leap Day wedding will be held in the State of Maine Room at Portland City Hall. They’ve been engaged for a few years and back in December started planning a small wedding in Portland, a city they love to visit regularly.

Liam Kelleher and Jane Murdoch. She said, “The general consensus is that (Leap Day) is a cool date” for a wedding.  Photo courtesy of Liam Kelleher

When they realized Leap Day was on a Saturday, they thought that would be a fun day to tie the knot. They loved the idea of having an intimate city hall wedding and were struck by the beauty of Portland City Hall. It turned out the State of Maine Room was available to rent on Leap Day.

“It was serendipitous the way it worked out,” Murdoch said. “The general consensus is that (Leap Day) is a cool date. That it falls on a Saturday makes it that much better.”

Kelleher said the added bonus of their Feb. 29 wedding is it will brighten up his birthday week, which he says “generally stinks because it’s never nice out in February in New England.”

The Saturday Leap Day also felt perfect to Kowalski and Buck, who started planning their wedding after Buck, 31, proposed while they were hiking in the Canary Islands last March.

“We were saying to ourselves it’s really meant to be,” said Kowalski, 34. “It’s all aligned to have our anniversary and wedding day on the 29th, which is pretty cool.”

“When I tell people, they tell me I’m a smart guy because I only have to remember an anniversary every four years,” Buck added.

On non-leap years, Buck and Kowalski celebrate their anniversary on March 1.

Kasie Blanchette and Bryan Donoghue will have a time capsule for people to leave notes for them to open on their “first” anniversary – Feb. 29, 2024. Photo courtesy of Kasie Blanchette

Kasie Blanchette, a 32-year-old wedding planner from Boston, knew it would be nearly impossible to have her own wedding in the middle of the traditional wedding season. So after her boyfriend, Bryan Donoghue, proposed minutes after the Patriots won their last Super Bowl, they started considering a winter wedding.

When Blanchette and Donoghue realized 2020 is a Leap Year and Leap Day fell on a Saturday, they felt it was meant to be. She has planned weddings on other unique days like 12/13/14, but has never been involved in a Leap Day event.

“We wanted something that was different than the weddings I had planned before,” Blanchette said. “What’s more different than getting married on Leap Day? We weren’t always dreaming of a Leap Day wedding, but we found the idea fun and different.”

Donoghue, who is 34 and works in sales, loved the idea of doing a weekend getaway, so the couple settled on a Maine wedding. Their wedding with 160 guests will be held Saturday at Grace in Portland.

When the couple told people about their plans for a Leap Day wedding, some made comments about only being able to celebrate their anniversary every four years. But most people thought the idea was fun and fit Blanchette and Donoghue’s personalities, she said. They didn’t want to make their wedding Leap Day themed, but they have included the unique day.

Instead of a traditional wedding guest book, they’ve made a time capsule for people to leave notes for them to open on their “first” anniversary on Feb. 29, 2024. They’ve also incorporated the Leap Day theme into their wedding hashtags for social media: #leapingintodonoghue and #takingthe leap.

Like the other two couples, Blanchette and Donoghue plan to celebrate their anniversary on March 1 on non-leap years and make the celebration extra special when Feb. 29 comes around.

“At the end of the day, the important thing is it’s just a day,” Blanchette said. “It doesn’t matter to me that it doesn’t happen every year.”

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