Friday was its normal self at the Marriage Factory, busy. Thankfully it wasn't crazy busy as some Fridays, because the clerks were having a bad day. License after license had mistakes. We had to reprint, have the couples sign again, and then do the ceremony. Now to be fair many of the errors were put there by the couples. They fill out half the license with personal information. But the worse one was each of the couple marked they had been married, marked na and then had no date for death, divorce, what ever. That should have been caught before it ever got to me.
The worst ceremony to do was an arranged marriage. They were Indian and young. She had just turned 19. The bride's mother was the witness and bossy. She kept asking me questions about the ceremony, what they had to do etc. and I politely ignored her. The kids were marrying and it was obvious they did not want to, so I was all for making it at least what they wanted. She said no vows and I asked them, the groom wanted vows. We were going to have vows.
The bride stared at the floor. He looked at her a little but mostly to the right of her head. The mother is giving directions to me (hurry up, you don't need to say that . . .) and I am ignoring her. The couple is miserable. We get to the vows and I tell them to face each other and hold hands. They start to reach for the other's hands, there is a scream behind me, "NO TOUCHING! DO NOT TOUCH!" The couple jumped apart and there was no touching. Even though this was the legal marriage ceremony, the mother told me that only the cultural ceremony counted. They could not touch until the priest married them. So why didn't they use the license for that ceremony and skip the civil ceremony?
My favorite ceremony was two women dressed in flowing belted white shirts and white slacks. These women were born in 1933 and 1934. One wore a crown of daisies and carried a bouquet of white mixed flowers. Friday was their 40th anniversary. They had at least 20 guests. They had arrived early that morning and when they had to produce ID, one of the women had left her purse on the kitchen table. She called her neighbor who had a key to get the purse and bring it to her. That was a nice neighbor, she was coming 26 miles and if lucky could make it in 35 minutes. Then an error was found and they had to reprint before the license ever got to me. Every time I went through the lobby I saw them and thought I want to do their ceremony.
One of their friends had witnessed for one of my ceremonies. Every time I came out of the elevator, they would come up and tell me they wanted me to do their ceremony. I told them if I was still there I would do it. Another volunteer had arrived for her shift and it was time for me to leave. She took a license and went upstairs. I saw the women were the next license, so I decided to stay for them. I grabbed the license, saw it was a reprint which meant it had already been checked. That came back to bite me.
They were so happy it was me, the guests did a cheer for me in the elevator. We did a lovely traditional wedding, bride escorted in while a couple of women sang, friends standing up with them. Lots of tears and laughter. I start to sign the license and see the other volunteer had signed it. Evidently she had signed all of the licenses and the souvenir licenses on the desk to save time. YOU DO NOT sign anything until after the ceremony. I had to tell the ladies we are doing another reprint. I was mad and embarrassed I didn't catch it before the ceremony.
The reprint took forever. The printer went crazy and kept sending error messages. Everyone is working on it. Finally, a reprint, sign again, and recorded. From when I picked up the couple to when they got their certified copies, one hour. Usually it takes 15 to 20 minutes. They had already been there two hours because of the no ID and Friday normal wait time.