Happy holidays to all!
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Your Experience With... Jail Ceremonies
Rita Katona of Wallingford CT has been around jails. "I went to Whaley Ave for a ceremony requested by a local priest who had been counseling the couple. I had one in Norwich. They gave us 20 minutes. I left so that the couple could have some time together. Had a heck of a time getting out too. They strongly discourage marriage when one is an inmate. They really don't want them & the myth of conjugal visits is just that. My understanding is that they are very limited. I've gone through so many checks & so many gates that clanged behind me, I can tell you I was distinctly uncomfortable."
Hamden CT JP Geoff Kanner writes: "The very first ceremony I performed was IN the jail in Newtown. He was incarcerated for beating up a previous girlfriend. His cellmate was his best man. Guards were gathered around the holding cell for the ceremony. It was a glass-enclosed room. The wedding had to be on a specific day, his birthday, so that he would not forget the anniversary. I do not think they had much of a honeymoon. Her check (my fee) bounced."
From Jean Ellis-LaBossiere, Concord, MA: "Many years ago I was asked by the administration of MCI Concord to do a wedding in the maximum security side. And never again! As a civil servant, I do not think you are permitted to refuse a request connected with your commission. I had to remove jewelry, belt and shoes, open my mouth and get patted down by the female guard as the male guards leered. That part was more intimidating than meeting the inmate I had come to see! And I did 4 or 5 on the farm side, the minimum security side. At the farm, entry is not as intimidating as “in the big house.” I did not have to go through the same search procedures, and there was even the opportunity for the couple to have a few guests and cake."
Kurt Zimbler of Stamford CT hasn't performed any weddings in jail. "What I HAVE done is marry a couple who had both been convicted and sentenced for drug trafficking. We did the ceremony on the weekend before they went to jail. A groom I married was arrested for bigamy about six weeks after the wedding when he was spotted in church by the parents of his OTHER wife. I did two weddings in the Maternity Ward at Stamford Hospital. I married a 15-year old pregnant girl (she had parents' permission) and her mother told me to make it fast because her contractions were coming thirty minutes apart. When you're in the business long enough, strange things happen."
From Enfield CT JP Blair White: "I have performed weddings at the "BIG HOUSE," Northern Correctional, the super-max prison in Somers, CT. In the visitors' section, the groom was behind the bullet-resistant glass and the bride and myself were on the other side. The ceremony was conducted over the phone. I have also performed weddings at Carl Robinson Correctional Center in Enfield, CT. The ceremonies were in a small room off the visitors' center where family and friends could gather. More like a normal wedding."
And Marina Rivera of Norwalk CT: "Some time ago I was asked to do a wedding at the North Avenue Jail in Bridgeport. After all the paperwork was done, on a rainy day I went to the Jail to perform the wedding. The family was able to attend but I had to leave my umbrella and camera out with the guard. There are certain things you can't bring in. You are searched completely before they let you in. It was quite an experience for me but all was well and the couple is still together."
... Church Ceremonies
I have performed a half dozen of these for various reasons, e.g., the bride did not want to convert and the minister wanted the family to have use of the church but would not perform the ceremony. I was asked to use a Christian ceremony & I included readings from the scriptures. Some chapels in colleges are available to rent, as well as some non-denominational chapels. That includes chapels in cemeteries! Rita Katona
... Sharing the Role of Officiant
For the marriage ceremony where another culture or religion has its own "tribal elders," I wait for them to complete the ceremony I have witnessed, and then I step in and say my "Therefore, in accordance with the laws of CT, and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of CT, I do pronounce you husband & wife. You may now kiss your bride!" Larry Gemma
It is my understanding that as long as I administer the vows & they respond, I can pronounce them husband & wife & sign the license. I have had ministers in the family whose children only wanted them to do a sermon on marriage but not actually marry them (go figure?) & elders of the church who are not ordained. In these cases I discreetly remain in the background & then step forward when it's my time. I have also done regular civil ceremonies & then stayed while the family did a Shinto or Buddhist thing on their own. They requested that I stay. A warning though: they are long! I get so few I don't concern myself with the time. Rita Katona
French JP Found
JP Robert Dumais will officiate at Pascale & Chris' bilingual wedding on Dec. 3. Thanks to JP Normand Martin, who recommended M. Dumais...
...but Still Seeking a JP who Speaks Ukranian
for a wedding next September 23, 2006 in Bethel CT. The bride is Lena Onyshkewych. If you know of a JP who fills the bill, please write to newsletter@jpUS.org.
NEW HAMPSHIRE JP FEE INCREASE
In New Hampshire, the fee for a 5-year commission will rise to $75 effective January 1, 2006. (It is currently $50.) Any NH resident who has been a registered voter for 3 years is eligible. The state has no maximum number of JPs.
NEW MONOGRAM STYLES ON JP STOLES -- A great gift for a JP!
Choose simplicity or go all the way with embroidered royalty motifs. Heavy golden stitchery enhances these beautiful stoles worn by the discriminating wedding officiant. Five new styles to choose from at jpus.org/stoles.htm. Queen Monogram shown at right is 3 1/2" tall. Order by December 14 for Christmas delivery.
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