The Third Branch
Couples head to courthouses for easy-to-remember anniversary date
Deputy Chief Judge Maxine A. White officiates one of many weddings that took place on 12-12-12. Photo credit: Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Couples across the state headed to local courthouses to be married on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 (12-12-12), a date that occurs only once every 100 years.
Brown County Clerk of Court Julio Garcia told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that five couples were wed in the Brown County Courthouse on that special date.
"I'm not a superstitious guy, so when I first agreed to perform the service, I was admittedly, completely oblivious to the significance of this date for some people," said Dane County Circuit Court Judge William E. Hanrahan, who performed one of the 20 12-12-12 weddings in Dane County.
"Since the crowd was buzzing in anticipation, I wanted to make sure that I didn't screw it up, yet, despite the couple's obsession with the date and time, they hadn't considered whether the service should start at 12:12 p.m., whether the vows should be exchanged at that precise moment, or whether I should pronounce them husband and wife at that time."
According to WISN-TV, Milwaukee, the Milwaukee County courthouse typically hosts about six weddings on a weekday afternoon. On 12-12-12, almost 30 couples were wed there.
"Very exciting and very different from an ordinary day in my courtroom," said Deputy Chief Judge Maxine White, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, who performed several of the weddings.
White, the presiding judge in the Family Division, is far more likely to preside over a complicated family case than officiate at a wedding. She said it was a very happy day at the Milwaukee County courthouse to see so many people committing to each other.
According to First Judicial District Deputy Court Administrator Beth Bishop Perrigo, the tradition of "special" wedding days began in the Milwaukee County courts over a decade ago when staff decided to donate decorations, cookies and candy to make it a special day for those marrying on that day.
"It is also a favorite day of the local media who seem to enjoy covering a happy event and are often waiting for the courtroom door to open," Perrigo said. "On Valentine's Day, 2013, 38 weddings were scheduled, a new record."