Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 15, 2012

Judge hits milestone with wedding ceremonies

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — When John Blake stepped into the office of Garvin County’s associate district judge back in 2004 he never really thought one of his regular duties would be to conduct wedding ceremonies.

This past Thursday he made it ceremony number 999 by getting a couple hitched on their way to the OU-Texas football game, while he made it an even 1,000 on Friday afternoon.

“The number 1,000 is not really a big deal, but it does surprise me,” Blake said.

“I think it’s a hoot.”

As for the idea of conducting a wedding ceremony, Blake says it’s always a pleasant change away from the normal grind of most things done by a judge.

“I get a kick out of it,” he said. “This is one event where they’re happy.

“I mostly deal with problems and disputes. Most of a judge’s duties are to deal to conflict.

“For people coming in for a wedding it’s all about consensus.”

When Blake first became a judge here he knew the job could include conducting weddings. He also didn’t think much about it until that first request popped up.

“When I first came into office I didn’t really think about judges marrying people,” Blake said.

“When I performed my first wedding for all I knew that was the only one I was ever going to do.”

At first the new judge at that time went on the Internet to do some research and come up with a kind of script for him to follow while conducting the ceremonies.

“I pieced something together not too long, it sounded official and it got the job done,” he said.

Now Blake has performed enough of the 5-minute wedding ceremonies where he feels confident to go without the script in hand if necessary.

Then it was this past spring when Blake realized he would soon conduct ceremony number 1,000, at least when it comes to the wedding licenses issued in Garvin County, although there have been others with licenses issued somewhere else.

As for the ceremony on Thursday, Blake married a couple on their way to the OU-Texas football games this weekend in Dallas, Texas.

“They were on their way to the ballgame,” Blake said.

“They had waited in Cleveland County but it took too long so they came on down here on their way to Dallas.

“I said, ‘sure we’ll marry you.’ Then I said, ‘who are you rooting for in the game. If you’re a Sooners fans I’ll marry you,’” he said jokingly, adding the ceremony would have gone on even if the answer had been Longhorns.

Once another couple from Texas, familiar with Pauls Valley because of their travels, decided to stop here and get married.

“They said Pauls Valley just looked like a nice town to get married in.”

Another couple wanted their Basset hound named Harley serve as the maid of honor.

“It was an unusual request, but we went to the parking lot. Harley had a leash and was right there next to the bride. We said the vows, and that included two-legged witnesses,” he said.

“I’ve also had some couples dressed like vampires or gangsters. Once I even had to call security to a wedding because the two families weren’t getting along.”

There were even times when a bride or groom was taken into custody moments after they were married because of an outstanding arrest warrant.

With all those ceremonies behind him now, Blake can’t help but think there’s something about Pauls Valley when it comes to this wedding thing.

“Pauls Valley is a destination wedding location for some people.”