Jefferson City, MO 59° View Live Radar Wed H 87° L 67° Thu H 84° L 70° Fri H 84° L 67° Weather Sponsored By:

For some, Cole County Courthouse is perfect setting for wedding

For some, Cole County Courthouse is perfect setting for wedding

February 14th, 2019 by Jeff Haldiman in News

Judge Cotton Walker, right, poses with newly-married couple Travis Owens and Amelia Walker who were married in a brief ceremony Feb. 6 in the Cole County Courthouse.

Photo by Jeff Haldiman /News Tribune.

When you think about the setting for a wedding, usually a church or some outdoor scene comes to mind.

For some, though, a simple civil ceremony at the Cole County Courthouse will suffice.

Twice a month, time is set aside in Associate Circuit Judge Cotton Walker's court for couples to participate in the five- to 10-minute marriage ceremony.

"Most of the time we get all our openings filled, but most of the time we don't have all those people show up," Walker said. "It does make you wonder if someone got cold feet or just decided to do their wedding somewhere else."

While it's not like a criminal or civil law day, the "wedding docket," as it is called, is handled in a court-like manner.

"We are still going through a legal process," Walker said. "Sometimes I do ask how long the two have known each other because I want them to understand it is a serious ceremony."

Walker follows a form, asking the couple individually if they are appearing of their own free will and without influence from anyone. They must be older than 18 and not be married to anyone else.

He also utters the familiar phase, "Do you take this person to be your lawfully wedded spouse?"

If the couple has rings, they can exchange them. Then Walker signs the marriage certificate and says another familiar phrase: "By the power vested in me by the county of Cole and the state of Missouri, I now pronounce you man and wife."

"Other than adoptions, it's the only time we have a pleasant event take place in court," Walker said.

The ages of couples vary, and there have been times when non-English-speaking couples have been married in court.

"If it were a criminal or civil case, I would have to swear in the person doing the interpretation, but because in these situations it's usually a family member, we don't take that step," Walker said. "The reasons for people getting married are varied, and most of the time, we don't get into that during the ceremony unless they bring it up."

Among those getting married on a wedding docket last week were Travis Owens, of Jefferson City, and Amelia Walker, of Hartsburg. The couple said they had known each other 17 years.

"We've been friends for that long, and I was good friends with her first husband," Owens said. "He was killed while working on his job."

The couple said they are looking at this as a new beginning.

"We are going to be taking a cruise, so we decided to spend the money on that," Amelia Walker said. "We thought, just do it this way to make things smoother, and that way we didn't have to plan another honeymoon."

"Cost was a big thing because weddings are so expensive," Owens said. "We had all our family here, so that was what was important."

Among those at the ceremony was Walker's young daughter. Walker said she was 38 weeks pregnant when she was widowed.

"He (Travis) was there for my daughter's birth and was there for me and my family through a lot," Walker said. "This is just very special."