Monday and Wednesday I did a total of 10 weddings. Most were nice, most couples were in jeans and sweatpants. Nearly every couple on Monday wanted to know if the witnesses had to go to the ceremony. And I gave my stock answer, how can they sign they witnessed the ceremony if they don't see it?
Monday I called the names of a bride and groom. They came up and said the witnesses had gone back to the car for "something to drink, uh water." Can we do the wedding without them? No. Insert stock answer here. So the groom runs out to get them. This ticks me off. They were told I would be right out for them. So we wait, and wait. The bride is babbling about how scared she is and how nervous her groom is. This is her third marriage. She really wants this one to work. I try to calm her down. A guest goes out to find the missing groom and witnesses. So we wait and wait. It has been way to long. I start back to my desk and in come the missing people. They are nice and relaxed, except for the groom. The fumes would stop an elephant. No one is drunk, just loose.
We go upstairs and the groom is really pale. He is 40 and this is his first marriage. He tells me he thinks he is going to pass out. I suggest he sit down for the ceremony. He wants to stand up so we chance it. He made it. And then announced he was going out and getting drunk to celebrate.
Today I had a couple from India. She was in the traditional red sari. She is very quiet, but nods to my questions and smiles. He looks to the older couple to confirm his answers. I begin the ceremony. I do the fluff and them go for the legal questions. Do you R take this woman as your wife? Yes, I do. Do you J take this man as your husband? AND the groom answers, "Yes, she does." I stopped and said, "You can not answer for her." Then it hit me, she did not speak English. She had been coached and was faking it. I threw a hissy fit. I told them I would not marry them. If she didn't understand what was going on, no one would marry them. After some discussion one of the witnesses agreed to translate. So I began anew and shortened up the ceremony.
I do not think this was a forced marriage. Probably it was arranged. The couple was holding hands and seemed happy together. But they faked out the clerk, who is sharp on non English speaking people and always warns me. They fooled me for too long. Why did they do it? The others spoke perfect English and it really wasn't an issue to translate the ceremony. Why do it?