My interest in becoming a Justice of the Peace started a long time ago, with my love of weddings in general. When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I had a couple of “cottage” businesses related to weddings.
My first connection to weddings as a professional was providing silk flowers for my nephew and niece’s wedding. They were holding the wedding in my mother’s backyard because of budget constraints, and by the time they had gotten all the food arranged, found a dress for the bride, and rented a tux for the groom there simply wasn’t a lot of money left. I found a nearby craft store and a set of instructions and set about making floral bouquets for the wedding party. I loved being a part of their special day, and the seed was planted.
I took my interest in photography and gradually grew it into a Wedding Photography business – again, starting with friends and family and growing the business from there. I was, even MORE, a part of the couple’s special day, and found myself not only serving professionally but making lifelong friends as well. I think that’s always been a big part of the appeal for me – I love people and I love being part of their happiness.
When the meteoric rise of inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras made it harder for me to get hired as a professional – plus the challenge of having set up a shot only to have 20 or so guests take the same exact shot – I turned to a different branch of photography and left weddings behind. Or so I thought…
When my husband and I were married, I felt a bit taken aback because we could not be married in his home church – we both had prior spouses who were still alive, and that was not compatible with the rules of the church. Had we known about Justices of the Peace then, we likely would have used one. One of the other ministers in my husband’s home church married us – he was allowed to because he wasn’t the Pastor – that was over 25 years ago.
I knew people in our community that were Justices of the Peace and who performed weddings, but it didn’t really come “home” for me until my husband became a JP. When he started conducting weddings, I went along with him as an observer, witness for the marriage certificate if needed, and occasional photographer. It only took a few weddings to remind me of how much I loved being a part of that special day.
My liberal religious background (I am a Unitarian Universalist) also helped push me toward becoming a JP. With that credential, I could marry couples who might not have a home church, whose circumstances prevented them from being married in a traditional setting (i.e. prior spouses still living, as in my case) and I could also perform civil ceremonies for same-sex couples. That made it a no-brainer decision.
I now perform weddings throughout Southeastern Connecticut and have been referred by other JP’s when they’ve had scheduling conflicts. I try my best to customize the vows a bit for each couple – including the ones who call me when they have JUST picked up the license from Norwich City Hall, which is right down the hill from my house.
I love making children and family members a part of the ceremony when possible and am open to helping to find beautiful little out-of-the-way places to conduct a quick ceremony on little notice. I also enjoy working with couples who plan out their weddings weeks or months in advance. My first wedding as a JP was a Wiccan handfasting – truly special and amazing.
I feel strongly that if a couple wants to be married – to commit their lives to each other and to make the promise to be together forever – I want to help them do just that. That is my privilege as a Justice of the Peace, and I enjoy every minute of it.