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Good news: weddings on the upswing

Wedding bells are chiming in growing numbers for Harrison County couples.
Last year, 256 marriage licenses were issued by the Harrison Circuit Court Clerk, showing an upward trend from 245 in 2002 and 227 the year before that.
‘I think the trend is moving in that direction,’ said the Rev. Webster Oglesby, pastor of Lincoln Hills Christian Church in Corydon, one of the largest in Harrison County. ‘I think people are seeing that a lasting relationship with somebody is important.’
Oglesby performed about eight weddings last year, all for members of his church and all traditional, except the vows which he writes and the part that is personalized to suit each couple.
‘I’ve gotten into a groove, and I do basically a combination of traditional and some of my own stuff,’ he said.
Today’s weddings include ‘walking down the aisle and everything ‘ not too much new,’ Oglesby said. ‘The unity candle is still big, and we still have ring bearers and flower girls.
‘Big church weddings have had a comeback.’
At his church, the United Presbyterian Church of the Covenant at Elizabeth, the Rev. Richard (Dick) Goodwin said even the smaller weddings have expanded.
‘They’re wanting a smaller wedding, say 60 to 70 people, and they have four or five bridesmaids. The strange part is, they all want a lot of folks involved, but not the traditional long service,’ Goodwin said.
‘That’s why they’re calling it a small wedding,’ he added, with a good-natured chuckle.
Some couples opt for a civil ceremony performed by a judge or clerk.
Circuit Court Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis performs about two ceremonies a month.
‘They drop in the office after they pick up their license (from the clerk’s office downstairs) or invite me to their home,’ he said.
While some arrive dressed to the nines for the ceremony, others are just as likely to be in jeans. ‘It’s amazing,’ Whitis said.
He said Hispanic/Caucasian weddings were frequent for a time, but not lately.
‘In one case, the only thing the guy could say was, ‘S’,’ ‘ the judge said. ‘But he was smiling.’
Superior Court Judge Roger D. Davis, who usually hears criminal proceedings, performed 12 wedding ceremonies last year, and it’s a ritual he enjoys. ‘It’s kind of interesting,’ he said, ‘and it’s a lot more pleasant job than sending people to jail.’
Although some might think getting married before a judge amounts to simply ‘making it legal,’ Davis said it’s always more than that. ‘There’s unbelievable happiness and love.’
There is also the usual anxiety, when one wonders if they are making the right decision.
‘It’s like proof beyond a reasonable doubt,’ Davis said. ‘They might have some lingering doubt, but mostly it’s overcome with happiness.’
Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, is usually a busy wedding day, Davis said. This year, it falls on Saturday, when courthouses are closed. But Davis said arrangements can be made in advance.
Circuit Court Clerk Carole Gaither can also perform wedding ceremonies; last year she conducted seven.
‘I think most were married in a church by a minister,’ Gaither said.
By far, most of those who got marriage licenses here last year were Harrison County residents. Gaither said if the two people live in the same county, they must get their license in that county, but they can be married anywhere in Indiana.
The license costs $18, and there is no waiting period unless the woman is under 50 and must obtain proof of a rubella immunization.
Out-of-state residents can also apply for a license here, but they pay more ($60) and must get married in the county where the license is issued.
The rubella immunization is required for women of child bearing age.
‘At this point, gentlemen don’t have to do anything,’ Gaither said. ‘It could possibly change at any time,’ she added, if the legislature so decided.
Most marriages seem to be between young couples, 18, 19 or 20 years old, said Kelly Schoen, a deputy in the clerk’s office for three years. ‘We do have some older ones, but most seem to be young.’
Besides the permit, clerk’s offices throughout Indiana give couples a small gift packet, which includes such items as soap samples, detergents and coupons. ‘It’s a gesture,’ Gaither said. ‘But they get really excited when we give it to them.
‘Some say, ‘This is our first wedding gift!’ ‘
Last year, more people got married than unmarried.
Two hundred and forty-nine divorce cases were filed in 2003, but only 180 were finalized. That ‘final’ figure also includes some cases filed in previous years. In 2002, the number was 255.

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