Vows spell courthouse bliss

February 14, 2001

Vows spell courthouse bliss


Some men give women roses on Valentine's Day. In the Burress family, tradition seems to call for a wedding ring.

On Wednesday, John Burress Jr. and Lynn Marie Rodriguez, both 19, exchanged wedding vows at the Washington County Courthouse.

In attendance were the couple's family, including Burress' grandparents, Edna and Charles Basham, who were married 42 years ago on Feb. 14.

"It goes by so fast," said Charles Basham.

Rodriguez, 19, was attired in a white sheath with a lacy shawl and had baby's breath in her hair. She carried a small bouquet of fresh flowers.

Burress, 19, sported a red carnation and wore dress pants with a white shirt and a tie. He chewed gum during the brief ceremony and his bride shed a few tears.


The couple, who said they met at church, didn't seem to mind having to do three retakes of their wedding kiss for family photographers.

Nancy Harrison and Richard Fani, who also chose Valentine's Day for their wedding, said love is better the second time around.

Each had been married before, and that first time around they took their respective wedding vows in a church and had traditional receptions.

When they decided to wed, they chose to do it on Valentine's Day at the courthouse.

"We both thought we had it right the first time. Now we know what we're doing," said Nancy Harrison, 39, who became Nancy Fani on Wednesday.

The couple said they wanted a simple ceremony and having it on Valentine's Day made it extra special.

"I can't think of a better day," said Richard Fani, 52.

The Fanis said they left work early in order to arrive at the courthouse on West Washington Street around 2 p.m. Nancy's daughter Ashley, 13, was there to share the moment.

After a brief wait, Chief Deputy Clerk Rick Hemphill escorted them to a room in the newer section of the courthouse for their 10-minute wedding ceremony.

Dressed in a tuxedo, Hemphill stood behind a podium and advised the couple where to stand. The groom always stands on the right side, he said.

"It's so he can have room to take out his sword if anyone objects," he said, citing wedding lore.

After vowing to love and respect one another, the couple shared a long kiss before accepting their wedding certificate and leaving the courthouse as husband and wife.

The Fanis and the Burresses were among 10 couples who got married on Valentine's Day at the Hagerstown courthouse.

"Valentine's Day is always busy," said Hemphill. That's especially true when the holiday falls on a Friday because many people like to go away for the weekend for their honeymoon, he said.

Couples pay a $60 fee for the wedding and must apply at least two days before the ceremony.

Weddings are conducted by the clerks who get into the spirit of the occasion by dressing to the nines, said Hemphill.

High school sweethearts Tina Marie Haines, 26, and Albert Mills, 28, of Hancock, said they wanted a Valentine's Day wedding because it was romantic.

Several family members attended the wedding, including the couple's 5-year-old daughter Mercedes.

Tina Mills said she originally planned to trick her husband-to-be into going to the courthouse and then surprise him with a wedding, but she got a case of the nerves and revealed her plan.

Mills said the wedding "was spur of the moment" but he was excited to become Tina's husband.

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