Friday, July 1, 2011

Monday weddings? No, yes, yes.

There were three couples who wanted to get married at the Marriage Factory on Monday.  Only two were allowed to marry.  Sometimes we have to make a hard call and say no, we can't do your marriage ceremony.

The couple was from Ethiopia.  The clerk R did not think the bride understood much English. The groom's English was fine and he was doing nearly all the talking.  Couples can fake English to a high level, so we have to interview them. If a person can not communicate with the marriage commissioner, the commissioner can not legally do the ceremony.  R asked me to come talk to them before they paid for a ceremony.  I have to be hard nosed and bossy when I do this.  I tell them why, legal issues to protect the non English speaker, I am questioning them.  Then I tell the English speaking person, he/she can not talk, nor give signals.  Sometimes I even put the couple in separate areas of the lobby.
I asked the bride her name, that one she knew.  I asked her why she was at the county building, nothing.  I asked her where she was from, nothing.  I asked her what service she wanted from me.  Nothing , understood nothing. We sold them a license, but they had to find someone else to do the ceremony. We sent them to the library one block away and told them to Google translators, and to also look for an Ethiopian church or cultural center.  They understood why they were turned away.  And thanked us for giving them options.

One couple had a large group of friends and family.  They also were dressed traditionally for the wedding.  He had on a black suit.  She wore a creamy satin strapless wedding dress.  The bodice was embroidered and had bead work.  This continued around the hem and onto the cathedral length train. A gorgeous dress.  Her shoes, because we know Janet loves shoes, white sparkly flip flops. Wasn't a fan of those.

The family and friends were very vocal, in a good way.  The couple were very quiet, serious, intense.  They leaned into each other, and even after the ceremony did not seem to relax.  This ceremony was a huge important deal to them, as it should be.

My last couple were casually dressed. He was Army Aviation. She was moving to the base in Washington to  be with him.  He is a short timer and should be out of the service in under a year. They never took their eyes off each other during the ceremony. They were dead serious.  I pronounced them married and he laughed and swung her up in his arms to kiss her.  It looked like the typical carry the bride over the threshold. 

Three couples that were very different.  A small sample of what happens at the marriage factory.  Wednesday's weddings, again a problem with English.  Stay tuned to see out that turned out.

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