My Retirement as a Wedding Officiant
December 29, 2014
Sadly, my career as a wedding officiant has come to an end. On November 30, 2014, Judge Bonnie Gordon retired as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge. When she was initially elected in 1994, her first official act was to appoint me as her personal Court Commissioner. I have proudly “served” in that role for the past twenty years.
The apostrophes is because the role did not involve much actual service as it’s mostly symbolic – except that I got to perform weddings. While some felt that it was a conflict of interest for a divorce attorney to do so, it was actually a great deal of fun. This summer, for example, I performed a wedding ceremony for my running friend, Paul and his lovely bride, Linda – after completing a 5K race, of course (Paul whomped me, but good!).
For a number of years, I did quite a few weddings. Here are two of my favorite stories:
A woman called and asked if I would be able to perform a ceremony on Thanksgiving. The story was that she was living with her fiance to the disapproval of her grandfather, who felt that was immoral. Begrudgingly, Grandpa agreed, however, to go to their apartment for Thanksgiving. Once there, they wanted to tell him that they were going to get married – in fact, that day, right there. Since their apartment was near my home – and it sounded like fun – I agreed to perform the ceremony.
Early that afternoon, however, the bride called and told me to wait – they were having a problem getting Grandpa to come. Finally, she called back and asked if I could come right away. I did and told an astonished Grandpa that I was licensed to perform ceremonies and would do so forthwith. The ceremony was sweet and fun. A little over a year later, I was sent an email by the bride with a picture of a beaming Grandfather, now a Great Grandfather, holding their newborn baby.
A baby played a strong role in another fun experience. A woman called that she was pregnant and wanted to get married before giving birth, so we set a quick date. On a Saturday morning right before the anticipated wedding date, she called me from a maternity ward that she was in labor. However, she had the license, so could I come right over and do the ceremony? I raced over, found the maternity ward and while she was on an IV drip to slow down the birth process and with the nurses as witnesses, I did the fastest wedding ceremony ever.
I had many more wonderful experiences, several with former clients and some with total strangers who incorporated other traditions (my favorite was a Hmong couple). I’ll miss being able to do any more ceremonies, but I thank Judge Gordon for allowing me to do so the past twenty years.