Come noon this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, the oldest tradition in human societies will get a new ring on the steps of the Flagler County courthouse, where Clerk of Court Tom Bexley will lead a mass marriage ceremony for all willing couples who’d have applied for a license between Dec. 18 and Feb. 9.
Bexley intends to make the annual Valentine’s Day marriages a new local tradition.
“There’s a number of other state offices in Florida that do that, it’s good for public relations, it teaches people a little but about what we do,” Bexley said. “It feels good. It’s a good community service thing.”
It is also a chance to lend the courthouse a less austere feel, considering that most people who go there do so for less auspicious circumstances–and some walk in only to walk out a different door, to jail and to prison.
Marriage is rich with its own jingles of balls and chains, but not usually in its more delirious early stages, particularly when courthouse ceremonies have the added advantage of sparing the couple the need to negotiate family politics, location hassles and costs. In this case, couples will also get to save $30, a local fee that Bexley will waive and that usually applies for the performing of a ceremony, in addition to the state’s $86 marriage license fee, which can’t be waived. (It was previously reported as $94.50, but the state recently decreased the fee.)
The ceremony will take place on the steps of the Kim Hammond Justice Center in Bunnell, with Bexley officiating and delivering a wedding-day sermon of sorts. “That’s part of the deal,” he said. “If these folks are going to take part in this ceremony they’re going to have to listen to my words of wisdom, however wise they turn out to be.”
And yes, the ceremony is open to all denominations, all dispositions, all orientations. “Same sex marriages, absolutely,” Bexley said, noting that while some clerk’s offices in the state have chosen to stop performing marriage ceremonies in order not to have to perform same-sex ceremonies, Flagler began issuing licenses–and performing ceremonies–to same-sex couples as soon as it became legal to do so, starting in January 2015. “Come one, come all,” Bexley said.
That also includes couples who would like to more ceremonially renew their marriage vows. No applications necessary in that case.
The ceremony will include refreshments and live music. Guests are welcome.
The clerk’s office routinely issues marriage licenses but also regularly performs ceremonies, with any of the clerk’s deputies officiating. It performed 103 in the past year alone. There’s a small chapel often used to that end near the clerk’s recording office at the courthouse.
In order to be eligible to register for the Valentine’s Day ceremony, application for marriage licenses must be made between December 18th 2017 and February 9th 2018. Couples will receive a special official Certificate of Marriage commemorating the special day. The certificates will be mailed within one week from the date of the ceremony.
For more information, contact the Recording Department, 386-313-4360, Kim C. Hammond Justice Center, 1769 East Moody Boulevard, Building 1, Bunnell, Florida. Details are also available at www.flaglerclerk.com.
County can’t think of any more ways to waste taxpayers money
Good job Tom; keep up the good work…
When are you going to hold the mass divorce session since so many marriages end in divorce? There ought to be a time of year when fees are waived for divorce…..no better time than New Years Eve…..that would put a good start to a New Year for lots of couples.
And mass annulments on Feb 15. Fun.
That is great news! Thank you, Tom Bexley!
Are Gay marriages included in this mass ceremony?
Sure, let’s attract more crap, cause there’s not enough crime and transients in the County! Smh
“And yes, the ceremony is open to all denominations, all dispositions, all orientations. “Same sex marriages, absolutely,” Bexley said, noting that while some clerk’s offices in the state have chosen to stop performing marriage ceremonies in order not to have to perform same-sex ceremonies, Flagler began issuing licenses–and performing ceremonies–to same-sex couples as soon as it became legal to do so, starting in January 2015. “Come one, come all,” Bexley said.”
Katie Semore says
@linze, how is this wasting taxpayer’s monies? The couples will have to apply for and pay for the marriage license with only the $30 fee that is normally charged to get married at city hall waived. There is no indication that these couples would get married at city hall were it not for this particular ceremony so there is no way to calculate whether $30 per couple is loss to the county or not, but I would venture to say that those $30 waived fees are worth much more in good will and returns a value to the taxpayer for taxes paid should they wish to take advantage of it. The officiant is on-the-clock whether he is doing this or taking a coffee break or answering a phone call. It also frees him or other personnel from conducting many ceremonies to conducting one to take care of other tasks. Why the disgruntled attitude?
@Anonymous, why wouldn’t gay marriages be included in this “mass ceremony”? It’s the law…
rst–read what AM posted. Maybe our taxes will go down if enough people get married. The tax refunds may decrease and the courts are to gain lots of money when they file for divorce-not to mention what they are to gain on the purchasing of marriage licenses. All sinners….now is your time.
Bill and Carol Bexley says
Great idea. Your Mom and I are very proud of you. Oh, put us on the list to renew our vows. Interesting
your son marrying his Mom and Dad after 50 years of marriage.
Linzey Chaffin says
Oh if 10 couples show up at $30.00 each is $300.00
That’s more than I make a week
Linzey, the fee is being waived, not assessed.
Will they all honeymoon together? Swip Swap is real popular around here I hear.
Katie Semore says
$300 is only a tiny little drop in the bucket to the county office even though it is a significant amount to someone who earns less than $300 a week. It will be a great opportunity for those folks to save a big chunk of their income and do something that they otherwise can’t afford. It is the same as using national parks and forests. Taxpayers reaping a benefit for their taxes paid.
Carol Ogden says
Love this. A fun and user friendly approach to doing his job. Fresh thinking and better yet, Mr. Bexley brings some personality and a positive vibe to our community government services. This helps build working relationships between officials and residents. Happy Valentines Day in advance.