Mr. Batch and I got married in September 2015 during a weekend of activities, sharing Rochester and our home with family and friends. We decided to get legally married at a Justice of the Peace in a small, intimate family gathering with just Mr. Batch’s mother and my brother as witnesses. Some pretty funny stuff happened on the way to the courtroom for our civil ceremony that day. 🙂
Quite the lover of history, Mr. Batch suggested that we hold the ceremony in the courthouse in Canandaigua, NY where Rochester-native Susan B. Anthony was tried for casting her ballot in the 1872 presidential election. “We can make a day of it and have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and show one of the Finger Lakes to them!” he exclaimed. So I made the appointment for 2pm that Friday, before the rest of the festivities began.
The office of the Justice of the Peace sent options for the ceremony: which words we wanted spoken; whether or not we wanted the judge in robes or a suit; whether we wanted the ceremony performed in the courthouse or in a gazebo by the lake. I filled out the forms and went to the extra effort of sending the phonetic pronunciation for Mr. Batch’s last name (it’s twelve letters long!) At long last, the week of the ceremony arrived and I phoned the assistant who had helped me with all of the arrangements. “Is there anything special we should know or do?” I inquired. “No. Just come to the yellow courthouse on Main Street at 2pm,” she replied.
That day, after walking by Canandaigua Lake and admiring its beauty, we drove down Main Street toward the restaurant where we would have lunch and my brother asked, puzzled, “Did I just see yellow courthouses on both sides of Main Street???” I shrugged, certain that I knew which was the correct one. After a delicious lunch and margarita, we drove to the big yellow courthouse and parked our car. That weekend was unseasonably hot with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. As we approached the security screening, I advised the officer that we were checking in for our 2pm appointment with Judge X to get married. His brow furrowed and he shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said. “You probably need to go across the street.” We all laughed at the error, and decided to walk down the hillside and across Main Street, versus move the car, in spite of the heat, humidity and uncomfortable shoes. Dang that fashion!
When we walked into the smaller yellow courthouse we saw no immediate signs indicating where we should go to meet Judge X to get married. Nor was there any kind of reception area. So I walked down a corridor until I found an occupied office. “Excuse me, do you know where we go to meet Judge X? We’re getting married today.” “No idea,” she responded. “Maybe try upstairs?”
Starting to feel a bit anxious, I led our small group up the stairs, where we found a bailiff outside of the courtroom. “Hello!” I greeted him cheerfully. “We’re here for our 2pm appointment with Judge X to get married!” “Really??” he responded, incredulously. Now, doubtful myself, I pulled out my phone and hit “redial” of the number I had dialed just a few days earlier when I reconfirmed the arrangements. Only to find out that the assistant with whom I had worked was on vacation that day!!!
My brother tapped me on the shoulder and drew me to the window to see a man with a panicked look on his face running across the street toward the courthouse. “I bet that’s your guy!” he said. Sure enough, the bailiff then gathered us to send us through security and invited us into the courtroom to wait. The judge came into the room in a suit, not the robes that I’d requested. I bit my tongue and mentally repeated “just roll with this … just roll with this …” He was nervously reading a piece of paper, then looked up and requested, “Excuse me a moment,” and disappeared. We all looked at each other and giggled quietly. He returned wearing robes. I mentally breathed a sigh of relief.
He never did try to pronouce Mr. Batch’s last name, but began the ceremony with announcing the marriage by our first names, only. He proceeded with the ceremony … until he abruptly stopped. A long stop. Too long. Later, Mr. Batch confessed that he thought the judge was having a stroke. Finally, the judge looked up and admitted, “I’m sorry. I lost my place. It’s been a long week. And I’m ready for the weekend!” (in the midst of our wedding ceremony!!!) So he started the ceremony completely over!
And then Mr. Batch’s phone started to ring! At first, I wasn’t sure whose phone was ringing, but it added to the hilarity of the events thus far. I leaned over and asked “Is that your phone ringing??” He reminded me that he had dropped the phone so many times, the button to turn the ringer off was destroyed. In spite of our conversation and the phone ringing, the judge proceeded with the ceremony, seemingly unaware that any of this was happening! And then a few minutes later, the notification sounded that a voicemail had been recorded. It turned out to be Mr. Batch’s aunt calling from overseas, to leave us a lovely congratulatory message!
Then the judge got to the point in the ceremony when he asked if there were anyone who knew of a reason we should not be married. The door in the back of the courtroom opened loudly with a CCCCRREEEEAAKK. All of us looked at each other, bewildered, and then turned to see who in the world was coming to stop this tiny wedding?!?!? We saw the bailiff entering the room — looking just as surprised to see all of us turned and staring at him, as we were to see him! “Ooops!” he exclaimed. “Is this a bad time?!?!” We all ROARED with laughter … the comedy of errors now too much to contain into quiet giggles.
We proceeded with the ceremony until the judge got to the exchange of vows and rings. Mr. Batch said his vows, but then really struggled with getting my wedding band on my finger. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to enjoy a salty lunch with a margarita on an unseasonably hot day!
Together, we got the ring adjusted and turned to the judge, who instructed me, “And now you put that ring on my finger and repeat after me …” I stood, frozen, staring at him — unsure if I’d heard correctly. After a long pause, the judge murmured, “On my finger?!?!? Of course not! Put the ring on his finger!” Once again, the courtroom was filled with belly laughs! Mr. Batch and I kissed, our witnesses signed the paperwork, and so concluded our civil ceremony. We were legally joined in matrimony!
On the car ride back to Rochester, we joked that the judge had probably also had a margarita or two with his lunch! My brother lamented the fact that we had not videoed the ceremony, sure it would have gone instantly viral. And we concluded that we were actually thrilled to have such *funny* memories of what happened at the courthouse, the day we got mawwied. The rest of the weekend was just wonderful and memorable for other reasons, to be shared in future posts. Thus, if this had been just a vanilla, uneventful ceremony, we might not ever tell this part of the tale!