Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Sammy Williams and Natalee Williams of Lawrenceville exchange vows during their wedding ceremony at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville on Thursday. In celebration of Valentine's Day Chief Magistrate Kristina Hammer Blum, center back, was among the several Magistrate Judges who conducted free wedding ceremonies for anyone in the public with a marriage license.
Couples marry, renew vows on Valentine's Day 2013
Couples marry, renew vows on Valentine's Day at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville on Thursday. In celebration of Valentine's Day Chief Magistrate Kristina Hammer Blum was among the several Magistrate Judges who conducted free wedding ceremonies for anyone in the public with a marriage license.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Ron and Sandra Jones of Duluth were married 33 years ago during their lunch break in a Houston courthouse.
Needless to say, it wasn't the best experience for the young couple. A year later, the two had an official church ceremony in South Africa on Valentine's Day.
"This is our 32nd anniversary, to the day," Ron said Thursday morning. "I asked her that maybe we should renew our vows. It had been a long time."
That's what they did. The two traveled to the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse for the Gwinnett's Magistrate Court's annual tradition of hosting free weddings and vow renewals on Valentine's Day.
"This has been a wonderful experience," Sandra said after the ceremony. "I would recommend other people to do it ... it was so much more pleasant than when we first got married."
Ron and Sandra weren't the only ones at the courthouse. Caitlynd and Lionel George of Lawrenceville have been engaged for two years and decided to make this the big day.
"It was definitely time," Caitlynd George said with a smile. "It's my one day -- I wanted to look beautiful and I just decided I was going to get dressed up."
The new bride wore a white, strapless tea-length wedding dress with a teal sash tied around the waist. She accessorized with feathers in her hair and a white rose bouquet.
Across the hallway in the other Justice of Peace office, Richard and Florence Williams of Norcross prepared for their vows.
After dropping the ring he bought from the Shane Company, Richard was ready to be with his bride -- who is also the mother of his 6-year-old daughter -- in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,
"We did it because I love him and I wanted to have his last name," Florence said beaming from ear to ear. "I thought it was a nice ceremony."
Richard added, "The judge was really friendly, which put a big smile on my face."
This tradition is something that the Magistrate Court would like to continue, because its fun for the volunteer judges according to Chief Magistrate Kristina Hammer Blum.
"It's something our court started years ago and we have built the event over time," she said with a red flower pinned to her robe. "A few years ago, we started to do it in the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse to provide a nicer venue for people than a courtroom. It's something we find really fun to do given the day-to-day work of a magistrate judge.
"It's a way we (as judges) like to give back to the community."
The wedding veterans, the Joneses, gave some advice for the newlyweds: there needs to be commitment, communication and have common goals.
"If you don't communicate, you don't have a relationship," Sandra Jones said. "That's the secret."