My county has several locations where marriage licenses are processed. I have learned over the years which one to go to depending upon my needs. This time I needed someone who could help me out with a straight face.
Mindy and Mitchell planned a lovely ceremony at the far end of a long dock out over the river with just close family in attendance. The day was simply gorgeous with moderate temperatures, beautiful blue sky and a nice breeze. The sun made the river absolutely sparkle. We should have paid more attention to that breeze and less to the sparkly water.
I understand Mindy had experienced some frustrations related to the wedding earlier in the day, but the ceremony itself went off without so much as a hiccup—until we signed the marriage license. I made the mistake of having the parents sign Mitchell and Mindy’s legal license and keepsake certificate right there under the pavilion at the end of the dock, failing to immediately take repossession of the license and tuck it in my briefcase for safe keeping. One of the fathers decided he wanted a picture of these documents and placed them on one of the benches at the edge of the dock. I had my back turned and didn’t see a thing until the screaming and pointing started.
A gust of wind picked up the license and blew it right into the river. Of course it left the meaningless keepsake certificate well enough alone. Fishermen who heard the commotion came running up and tried to nab the soggy license in their nets, but the current was having none of it. I wanted evidence and took a picture of the license floating away. Mindy could do nothing more than roll her eyes and mutter, “figures.” I guess she really had had a tough day.
I assured them everything would be fine and I’d meet them at the courthouse on Monday to obtain a duplicate. This was the first time the above mentioned clerk got me out of a jam and it would not be the last. I seek him out whenever I run into a wrinkle. You know someone is worth their weight in gold when they are kind enough to refrain from bursting out laughing when you show them a picture of a license floating down the river. Yes, I really did take the picture in to the courthouse to show the clerks exactly what happened.
It really was a simple matter of the clerk pulling the file up in the computer system, hitting the print button, having all of us sign the new license and then issuing the certified copy. The couple’s anniversary date wasn’t affected. Going by the paper trail alone, it’s like the incident never happened. So don't worry if something happens to your license before it can be filed with the clerk of courts. People are always willing to help and problems can always be solved.
I left the picture with the clerk and wonder to this day if he’s got it hidden behind his desk to remind him how stupid officiants can be sometimes. I know I would be tempted.