COLUMBIA — Every Friday afternoon, from 1 to 1:30 p.m., three couples get married at the Boone County Courthouse — it's the only time the judge on duty has for weddings.
But since September, the courthouse has been booked through into the new year for weddings.The next opening is in March. Clerks there say the wedding docket fills up fast and has been consistently popular, so much so that couples in a hurry have to go to surrounding counties.
To make an appointment for a courthouse wedding, call 886-4050 about two months in advance.
Under the streamlined process, all three couples go into the courtroom at the same time. They each have their own ceremony, which takes about 10 minutes — five minutes to say the vows and another five to go through all the paperwork. The four associate judges — Larry Bryson, Christine Carpenter, Lesley Schneider and Deborah Daniels — rotate every week.
Newlyweds Natasha and T.J. Tintes of Ashland were married at the courthouse on Nov. 7. Natasha said they chose to have a courthouse wedding after they were both injured in a hit-and-run incident in May.
"We were intending on doing a bigger wedding, but due to the accident that occurred and also some family problems, we decided to do a courthouse wedding to save some money and give us time to heal," said Natasha, who booked the ceremony three months in advance to ensure a spot.
Originally from Miami, Natasha said the brevity of the ceremony, as well as the unbeatable price, appealed to her.
"Even though we are religious people, my husband has a very short attention span, so it was quick and meant we were able to get to the celebration part a lot sooner than if we had been married in a church,” she said in good humor. "And, of course, it was free."
Natasha, 21, and T.J., 23, kept their ceremony fairly private. Members of his immediate family, including his mother, father, brother, sister and grandmother, were there, as was a mutual friend of the couple.
"I thought the courthouse wedding was nice, and I enjoyed it," Natasha
said. "They allowed us to have as many people as we wanted to be there,
so it would have been basically just like having a regular wedding."
The newlyweds plan to have another ceremony and a reception next year, so they can celebrate their marriage with friends and family who were unable to attend the courthouse wedding.
"The big celebrations will be saved for next year when we have more time and money," Natasha said. "It’ll be much larger, and everyone will be invited."