Providing Civil Wedding Ceremonies Means Interesting Settings and Experiences | Local News


The wedding day is a memorable one for a couple and for government officials involved in civil ceremonies.

In Stonycreek Township, District Judge Susan Gindlesperger presides over the People’s Court and may oversee civil marriage ceremonies.

The term “magistrate district judge” replaced the former “justice of the peace,” Gindlesperger said.

Despite the title change, she believes, the wedding is the couple’s event, so they can have it however they want.

“If you want it to be simple, keep it simple,” she says. “If you want to write your own vows, make them personal.”

Before COVID, Gindlesperger said, she would have a crowded courtroom for many weddings.

“A couple brought 40 people,” she says, “but I also called the couple. “

A couple must come with witnesses. When that does not happen, “two of my staff who work with me will replace their witnesses,” Gindlesperger said.

The judge does not object to “decorating the courtroom with arches or placing a runner in the aisle”.

Gindlesperger said she was giving 45 minutes to decorate and hold a ceremony.

“The actual ceremony lasts 8 to 15 minutes,” she said.

Gindlesperger said most couples are guilty of watching her. So she uses humor to get them to look at themselves.

“When the ceremony begins, the couple are looking at me directly,” she said.

“I tell them, ‘Don’t look at me, look at each other. I have been married for 41 years. Then the couple would laugh.

In a movie theater

Cambria County Common Plea Judge Patrick Kiniry handles criminal cases, medical malpractice cases and orphans court. He said that having a wedding “brings variety to my day.”

Like Gindlesperger, he also knows about the eye problem.

“Over and over the girl looks lovingly at her future husband, while the guy looks at the ceiling or the courtroom,” Kiniry said. He admits that he gently brought the groom’s eyes back to the ceremony.

Kiniry said he performed 125 weddings. He married well-dressed couples to those in T-shirts and shorts; couples without wedding rings, to the only girl with a ring.

He even was a spectator in Judge Linda Fleming’s courtroom “as she married a pair of twins who met at a twins festival in Ohio.”

But Kiniry saw the “unique” perspective of a couple’s special day. He remembers having a wedding in a movie theater.

“Before the wedding started, the guests present watched the cinema screen for 15 minutes,” he said.

The first five minutes featured scenes from “the guy asking the girl to marry him” – from famous movies.

The next five minutes were wedding scenes from famous films. The last five minutes showed the couple going on their honeymoon, from classic movies.

“After the ceremony, while the ‘Star Wars’ theme is being played, two little boys walk up the aisle with lightsabers in hand,” Kiniry recalled. “The couple follows them and leaves the theater.”

Secular ceremonies

Robert Callahan said he and his wife, Toni, had a traditional wedding at St. Theresa’s Church in the West End. But as the mayor of the Borough of Westmont, he said “now you can kiss the bride” in non-traditional places.

“Years ago a ceremony took place in my dental office,” he said. “Another time, I married a couple at Grandview Cemetery.”

The most common place where he officiates is the district council room on rue Luzerne.

Surprisingly, when he became mayor, “I didn’t know I could officiate weddings.”

In the past, non-religious officiants have been shown to be beneficial for those who marry. The Marriage Act of 1836 permitted non-religious civil marriages to be held at registry offices. These have been set up in towns in England and Wales.

In the 17th century, marriages were overseen by the Church of England, although couples were not members. The state began keeping national statistics on marriage around this time. Those who were not related to the Church or the episcopal system were to have a civil officiant present. Couples were not trusted to record the marriage themselves, wrote Lauren Everitt in “Ten Key Moments in Marriage History.”

In the United States, slaves enjoyed neither the clergy nor official sanction. Slaves symbolized marriage by “jumping on the broom,” a ritual of placing a broom on the ground and then jumping over it. After the Civil War, newly released couples flocked to the Freedmen’s Bureau and other official agencies to obtain legal marriages, according to Elizabeth Garner’s “Marriage in America: A brief history”.

Callahan said couples can “incorporate as much religion as they want”.

When you are married by a mayor, there are no guidelines on how the day should be. Callahan said that for couples who opt for a small ceremony, he respects couples who “don’t spend the money they don’t have” – ​​as well as “couples who look at the cost of marriage and decide to save. their finances elsewhere “.

He said, “They have a little ceremony, but a nice down payment for a house.”

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