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Arizona justice courts anticipating heavy Valentine’s Day wedding load

(Flickr/Eric Gundersen)

PHOENIX — If you would like to get married at the Maricopa County Justice Court this Valentine’s Day, make sure you get in line early.

Scott Davis, a court spokesman, said weddings happen all year round. However, Valentine’s Day is the most popular at the Downtown Justice Center near Sixth Avenue and Jackson Street.

“Because it will be a heavier day, we’re telling people you can come in as early as 2 p.m. Sign in, get your number and then leave,” Davis said.

“Come back at 5 p.m., you’ll still have your number in line.”

More than 20 justice courts around Maricopa County perform weddings.

Davis said many judges look forward to these ceremonies, however brief they are.

“We are helping people who’ve had traffic tickets, misdemeanor crimes, evictions, even. Judges are seeing those people all day, wanting to help them get their lives on track.

“The best ending of a day is for a judge to be able to say, ‘I now pronounce you man and wife,’ or ‘wife and wife,’ or ‘husband and husband,’ however it may be,” Davis added.

“Judges take that responsibility just as seriously as they do the crimes. This is a couple coming together, meaning to take their future to the next level. Our judges want to help that happen.”

There is no formal dress code. However, on days like Valentine’s Day and Halloween, “people make it an event – there’s still pictures – and it’s still an occasion to celebrate.”

People in all circumstances have gone through weddings at a Maricopa County Justice Court, Davis said.

“We have had people who were high school sweethearts that parted ways and then met 50 years later … and decided to get married at the courthouse,” he added.

“We have people that have terminal illnesses. As sad as that may be, they don’t have time to wait – and they want to do it now. We’re happy to do any of those.”

Marriage licenses are required, but Davis said some courts offer same-day service on those. Marriages will be performed only after 5 p.m.

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