In sickness and in health: Magistrate performs more courthouse weddings during COVID-19

In sickness and in health: Magistrate performs more courthouse weddings during COVID-19
The couple tied the knot in an intimate ceremony inside the old New Hanover County Courthouse in front of a giant window. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Friday marked the first day of Jeanette and Jason Lawrence’s life together as husband and wife.

The couple tied the knot in an intimate ceremony inside the old New Hanover County Courthouse in front of a giant window.

“We’ve got a wonderful daughter, and a great family and we’ve been planning on getting married for a while. We didn’t want to let COVID stop us, so we wanted to go ahead and just say — it’s about us being together and being a family,” said groom Jason Lawrence.

The New Hanover County magistrate’s office says its been a busy year for courthouse weddings with so many couples facing venue cancellations and closures. Magistrate Maura Johnson’s appointment book has been packed for months now with people young and old who just want to get married.

The courthouse has been open throughout the pandemic, so some couples have crossed county and even state lines to get married in New Hanover County.

Some called on the magistrate’s office after their wedding venues canceled, but some of the ceremonies have been for people that found each other during the pandemic.

“We did have a nurse on the front line who needed to be married at 7:30 in the morning because she went on shift at 8:30 a.m. She and her fiancé had been planning for a long time to have their ceremony, and then COVID happened,” said Johnson.

The courthouse sometimes serves as a backdrop to difficult days, but it’s also where people pledge their love for one another and get their fairy tale endings.

“Most of my work has been in the criminal arena so this is a delightful change from that. I think it’s because it’s a renewal all the time — every time you see a wedding. Your day may have been going badly and you think about the dark side of human nature, and then hope and joy and people that are looking forward to a brighter future — and I wish that for all of us,” said Johnson.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.