Long County Probate Judge Marie Middleton has been performing marriage ceremonies for nearly 14 years. She said she usually marries two to three couples every week, and the brides and grooms come from all over the area to have their services conducted in her office. Middleton could take a straightforward approach by asking the couples a question or two and pronouncing them legally married. But the probate judge doesn’t think that’s festive enough.
“Most of these couples can’t afford a big, extravagant wedding, but this day is just as special to them as it is to anyone having a big wedding. So when they come here, we do what we can to make it special for them,” Middleton said.
Six years ago, she decided to decorate the room in her office where she performs marriage ceremonies. Using effects donated by friends and a little decorating pizzazz, Middleton created the “wedding room.”
The judge said the decorations make all the difference in the room, and they give couples’ big days a celebratory feel.
“They love it,” she said. “When they come down here to get married, they don’t expect to see our little room and when they do, it makes the day even more special.”
After all the brides and grooms become husbands and wives, Middleton has them pose for photos in front of the decorated room. Each couple receives a picture and the judge hangs a second copy in the wedding room.
Middleton recently came up with a new idea to give wedding days a festive twist. She and her staff added seasonal themes to the decorations, beginning this year with Christmas. Now couples exchange vows in a room trimmed with red ribbon, colored lights and garland.
The judge is also planning a Valentine’s Day theme and an Easter theme for next year.