Last May I had the honor and pleasure of marrying some friends of ours, pictured here, l-r, Liz and Kevin Jones. (I'm the one NOT wearing the wedding dress.)
As of this date, I have married 17 couples since January 2007---and I have about five more weddings scheduled in the next couple of weeks.
According to our clerk/treasurer Sherry Steinwedel, (she does a great job by the way,) I have conducted more weddings than any other mayor in the City of
We’ve been trying to figure out why this is…? Because we don’t advertise, and we don’t really make a big deal out of it---you don’t see any wedding brochures, or newspaper ads, or a lot of hoopla about how great it is to get married at city hall.
Believe it or not though; a civil wedding ceremony can be very special.
And I may have figured why our wedding rate has sky rocketed during my tenure.
It’s simple really.
I love doing it. And it’s not just me, it’s my city hall staff. We ALL love it.
Marrying people is a great honor, it is a solemn responsibility and not something to take lightly, that being said---
It is SO much fun---it’s the part of my job that is truly joyful.
We all walk away from the ceremony feeling hopeful. For the rest of the day there's no jaded cynicism---instead we notice that the robins are back, and that the magnolias have bloomed.
At my first wedding, the bride wore a simple navy blue dress, and the groom wore a charcoal gray suit with a red tie. They had no witnesses. So we accommodated them with city hall staff who were more than happy to oblige.
Who doesn’t like a wedding???
So anyway---the first couple had no witnesses. So our human resources administrator, Karen Platt volunteered to be a witness, along with Sherry Steinwedel, and of course I was the officiate.
The couple chose the longer ceremony. Did I mention this? We have two different ceremonies for couples to choose from. One ceremony is long and one is short. The long ceremony is about five minutes---and the short one is about three minutes.
So they chose the long ceremony that included the ring exchange. (( Not all couples bother with the ring exchange---I did not know this until I started marrying people! ))
The bride and groom exchanged the vows and the rings. By the time I got to the part where I say, “…by the power vested in me as mayor of the City of
Sherry reminds everyone that we still have some paperwork to sign; the marriage license has to be signed by myself, the newly married couple, the clerk/treasurer and the witness.
The ceremony is officially concluded with the signing of the paperwork, but having spent about decade taking pictures for the local newspaper, I’m not shy about asking them if they’d like me to take their picture, if they have a camera.
This time of year is my favorite for weddings, because I like to talk them into going out to Wilson Park to the senior center garden and have them get married under the archway….yes you read that right…I usually suggest this, because c’mon, if you’ve ever seen the gardens in front of the Milan Senior Community Center on a sunny day in the spring or summer, the first thing that pops into your mind is: wedding. It’s the perfect spot.
But last winter we had a couple who, in 15 minutes converted our City Council Chambers into a chapel. They created an isle down the center of the chairs we have set up for residents during council meetings. They had many guests—every seat was filled. They even provided music with their own stereo. There were bridesmaids and groomsmen and the bride was dressed in a formal white wedding gown with a train. That was one of my favorites.
But in some cases we’re more into it than the matrimonial couple.
Just last week a couple came in on a beautiful sunny day, and they didn’t want to get married in the park, and they didn’t want to bother with a ring exchange. Sherry, Karen and I were visibly disappointed. However it was obvious they were truly in love and maybe they were just in a hurry to tie the knot. It was still a happy event, albeit brief.
There was one wedding that was particularly poignant for me, and I’m sure Sherry and Karen will remember this one too.
The couple’s native land was somewhere in the middle east—I cannot remember which country at the moment. But it was extremely apparent that they had been through a lot to be together. They hinted that their family back home did not know they were getting married. It seemed apparent they had been in love for a very long time and had been apart for a long time as well.
The bride was so overwhelmed with emotion she could barely get through the vows, and the groom was the same---the emotion from the couple was so poignant that a lump formed in my throat and I had a difficult time not getting swept up in it myself. The bride at one point laughed through her tears and said, “I just can’t believe this is finally happening.”
Well, after that I had no control over my own tears and when I looked at Karen and Sherry; all three of us were goners.
Moments like that, we know are special. We know that we are participating in something that will be a part of the life-long memory of their wedding. When the ceremony concluded both the bride and the groom hugged all three of us as they left. That was a good day at city hall.
I imagine them at their 20 year wedding anniversaries reminiscing and recounting how those city officials were all crying at their wedding too, and we were virtual strangers.
The days that we have weddings are happy ones.
We have also had several weddings where the couple got married on their lunch breaks from work. Most of them drove from their work in
I always ask them, “What made you decide to get married here?” And the answer still really surprises me, they usually say: “Some friends of ours got married here and they told us it was great place to get married.”
Moreover, getting married at the City of Milan does not cost anything—and in all honesty---sometimes I wish I had done it this way myself; my husband and I probably could have used the money that was spent on the dress, the band, the reception, and the myriad of other expenses and used it for a down payment on a home.
But of course it’s hard to be practical and pragmatic when you are in your early 20s and competing for the most fabulous wedding with all your girlfriends who are also getting married. This type of wedding is not for everybody—but the ones we marry seem to really enjoy it.
So apparently the word is out: The City of Milan is a great place to get married.