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Romance fills the Gwinnett courthouse this Valentine's Day

Dozens of couples took advantage of the free wedding ceremonies that were offered in celebration Valentine's Day at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday.


Jennifer Garcia, of Snellville, places a ring on the finger of her soon-to-be husband David Larias, as retired Probate Judge, Jim Clarke, officiates their wedding ceremony at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Jennifer Garcia, of Snellville, places a ring on the finger of her soon-to-be husband David Larias, as retired Probate Judge, Jim Clarke, officiates their wedding ceremony at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Amber Menniefee is a spontaneous person. So what could be more romantic than a quickly planned wedding on Valentine’s Day?

After a six-month courtship, Menniefee was excited to marry her love Jared Hall in a quick courthouse ceremony on Valentines Day, a special new anniversary date for dozens of couples who married in the annual Gwinnett courthouse event.

“I’m very spur of the moment,” Menniefee said. “I figure there’s no time for anything to go wrong.”

Hall chimed in, “I disagree,” laughing about having to take the bride’s dress — purchased the night before — to an alterations shop when it popped open Friday morning.

But he was all too eager to make Menniefee his wife on the romantic holiday.

“She had her heart set on Valentine’s Day,” Hall said.

“It just felt right,” the bride added.

After closing the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center for a couple of days due to ice and snow, judges scrambled Friday morning to make sure the courthouse wedding tradition went on.

For the romantics, there was nothing that could interfere with love that day.

“I know it’s kind of kitschy and cheesy, but he’ll never forget our anniversary,” Jennifer Hester said about deciding a few weeks ago to make things official on Feb. 14.

Hester and her groom Lance Hall planned on a July 3 wedding, but they decided to go ahead and take the plunge in an intimate ceremony with Hester’s daughter Isabella in attendance. A big reception will still be held this summer.

“It’s eloping, I guess,” she said, wearing a traditional ivory gown for the ceremony, adding that she was happy that the flower shops reopened in time to pick up her bouquet.

Cedric Hale said he knew that if God was ready to bless his marriage to Keke Mims, the courthouse would reopen in time.

The couple, who have known each other for 15 years, began dating two years ago and were beginning to think about a big wedding when Hale was injured in a workplace accident last November.

Still going through physical therapy and working to recover, Hale said the accident changed a lot for the Lithonia couple.

“I was blessed,” he said of surviving the ordeal. “It makes you change your aspect on life. So we thought,’Why wait?’”

The couple invited their parents along to witness the union, as well as Mims’ best friend and godchildren. But Hale said he still wants to give his bride a big event one day.

“She deserves to have that dream wedding, so we’ll do that later,” he said.

Keke’s mom Sheonne teared up at the ceremony.

“It was a lovely gesture,” she said of the couple’s special Valentine’s Day.

“But I don’t want him doing combo gifts,” she added with a laugh.

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Valentine's Day Weddings in Gwinnett

Dozens of couples took advantage of the free wedding ceremonies that were offered in celebration Valentine's Day at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday.

Dozens of couples took advantage of the free wedding ceremonies that were offered in celebration Valentine's Day at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Friday.