COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Wedding bells are ringing… and ringing… and ringing! The Muscogee County Probate Court reopened their public weddings after a two-year hiatus. They brought back public weddings in March; over the past month, the court has seen a flood of couples ready to walk down the aisle.
Not every probate court does public weddings, so people are traveling to Columbus to tie the knot. Judge David Siegel says he has noticed a wave of soldiers from Fort Benning looking to get married before deployment.
For some, the courtroom ceremony is a placeholder until a big wedding later on. For others, it’s a way to save money on the big day.
No matter what a couple’s background or reason for getting married is, Siegel says he’s glad to be a part of their special day.
“I love doing weddings,” Siegel said. “I’ve spent over 30 years as a trial lawyer trying cases to juries and it’s so much fun to come into court and make families. I think probably my favorite weddings are the folks that have been divorced and are getting re-married, especially when there’s kids involved… you’re kind of putting a family back together and that happens pretty frequently.”
Weddings are a billion-dollar industry, but at the courthouse marriage licenses are $56 and the ceremony is free of charge.
The sign on the wall ironically has “gun licenses” listed right under marriage. That’s because the probate court also handles Weapons Carry Licenses. Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s Constitutional Carry Act into law last week; Muscogee County Probate Judge Marc D’Antonio says he does expect to see a decrease in that part of the Probate Court’s budget.
However, their office is hoping to offset those losses: In addition to weddings picking back up, the probate court is also handling passport applications. As travel picks back up they’re expecting an increased demand there as well.
Whether couples are getting married in sweatpants or in their wedding best, the probate court can have them married in about 10 minutes. Couples can bring family and friends or keep the ceremony private; the court welcomes both options.
Below is the schedule for public weddings:
Monday: NO CEREMONIES
Tuesday: 3:00 PM
Wednesday: NO CEREMONIES
Thursday: 3:00 PM
Friday: 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM