Weddings jump 61 percent at Anne Arundel County Courthouse
By Annie Gowen,
They were from Maryland.
And Thailand and Venezuela. They came in wedding gowns and tuxedos and purple Baltimore Ravens jerseys. They were young, old, straight and gay. They’d been together seven months — or 23 years.
They arrived toting cameras, flowers and, in the case of one young couple from Glen Burnie, their daughter Melanie, age 2.
When The Washington Post set up a photo booth outside the wedding chapel in the Annapolis courthouse one recent wintry day, it seemed like the whole world wandered by.
And they were in love.
“I was so nervous, I started crying. But it was all happy,” said Courtney Young, 23, an Army sergeant from Fort Meade who married her sweetheart, Cory Young, 25. The two canoodled afterward, Courtney pulling playfully on Cory’s suspenders.
Weddings have jumped 61 percent at the historic Anne Arundel County Courthouse this January over last, in part because same-sex marriage was legalized in the state as of Jan. 1, according to Robert P. Duckworth, the clerk of the circuit court.
Duckworth has been performing marriages there for more than 18 years, 7,000 in all. He was there the day a couple came dressed as clowns and the day a bride’s water broke. He was also there when a young girl in a silk evening dress sat on the bench all day and past closing, waiting for her groom.
He never came.
“A bummer,” Duckworth said.
For the most part, marriages are the fun part of his job. He and his assistant chief deputies expect to do more than 40 ceremonies on Valentine’s Day, one of the most popular days to wed. They try to make it nice, say a few words about commitment. They’ve had “I Love You” in curlicue letters painted on the chapel wall.
“It’s a happy room, people coming together on different phases of their journey,” Duckworth says. “It is a melting pot. We have people from all over the world.”
Edward Colon, 45, a research scientist from Bowie, met his beloved Tassadit Colon, 29, on Facebook. Deli manager John Christopher Gugerty, 48, met Scott Smith, 49, an accountant, at a bar more than two decades ago.
The Youngs are both sergeants who went to neighboring high schools and crossed paths at Forward Operating Base Normandy in Iraq in 2009. But they never met until seven months ago in the barracks at Fort Meade.
“I thought she was a huge dork,” Cory said of Courtney. “She was cute though, and funny.”
He proposed in December in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Got down on one knee, the whole thing. Romantic.
Some planned elaborate church weddings for later. At least two couples went straight to the gambling tables at Maryland Live! casino after they wed.
But even those who viewed the day’s action as an administrative necessity — just a piece of paper — said they left the chapel feeling changed somehow.
“It all hit me in the wedding chapel, when I went, ‘Wow.’ I had trouble speaking when I said my vows,” Gugerty said. “I just never really thought I’d see that day happen.”
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.