Cupid takes aim

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Escambia County Probate Judge Emilie Mims performs the wedding ceremony for Stephen and Jessica (Madden) Murphy Valentine’s Day morning at the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton.|Photo by Lydia Grimes

By 9:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, Escambia County Probate Judge Emilie Mims had already married two couples — and the number grew throughout the day.

The first couple was Chandler Myers of Atmore and Stephanie Eason of Birmingham. That wedding was quickly followed by a large wedding party to witness the marriage of Stephen Murphy and Jessica LeeAnn Madden, both of Brewton.

“It’s a beautiful day, and we always have more on pretty days,” Mims said. “I have had as many as nine weddings to perform in one day and (chief clerk) Maxine (Butts) has had as many as eight. We have a lot more people getting married in the spring than any other time.”

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On Valentine’s Day, the Probate Judge’s office was joined by the staff from Hope Place, which used the occasion to celebrate Healthy Marriage Month.

“We always have a good number of people who come in on Valentine’s Day to get married,” Mims said. “When Hope Place approached us about working together on this project, we were very happy to join with them. Hopefully, by the time couples come to our office to get married, they have already thought about having a happy and healthy marriage.”

Mims said the office was decorated to help celebrate the new marriages.

“When Hope Place asked us about making this a special day for weddings, we were happy to join them,” Mims said. “They came in and decorated the office and even put up a table out in the hall. They worked really hard to make this whole day special for the couples. It makes for a festive atmosphere for our couples. This is the first time in the last couple of years that Valentine’s Day worked out for us. Last year it was on Sunday and the year before on Saturday. Friday was on the 13th and I guess nobody wanted to take any chances.”

By 1 p.m., 10 more couples had taken their vows and the people at the Probate office were expecting more to come in. One couple, Jessica Bloss and Greg Bush, had been engaged for almost a year, but had not set a wedding date.

The new Mrs. Bush said that Greg came home for lunch and the next thing they knew, they were getting married.

“We were making plans,” she said. “But today, he came home for lunch and said ‘why don’t we go to the courthouse and get married?’ I was very surprised, but we decided to go ahead with it today.”

Hope Place officials said they were happy to partner with the Probate Judge’s office to make Valentine’s Day special to those who were getting married. Jennifer Emmons and her crew stayed on site all day greeting each and every couple on their way into the probate office. Each couple received a boxed set of wedding cupcakes and a marriage enrichment book.