Cupid’s Helpers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Feb. 14 is just another day at the office for Mary James and Krystal Jones.

As far as they’re concerned, everyday is Valentine’s Day.

Tucked away in a small office downstairs at the Dallas County Courthouse, James and Jones sell marriage licenses to smitten and not so smitten couples from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

No appointment is necessary, James said.

James has held the position of recording supervisor for 10 years and said she rarely experiences a dull day at the office.

“We have an adventure just about everyday,” she said.

James said business has been unusually slow this year leading up to Valentine’s Day, but doesn’t expect the slump to last for long. Last year, 365 couples sought a marriage license – seven of those couples married on Valentine’s Day.

“There were more marriage licenses during the July 4 holiday than Valentine’s Day last year,” James said.

“We were doing two at a time,” Jones added.

Neither James nor Jones knows the reasoning behind the July 4 nuptials.

The influx of couples depends on the season, James said. Some opt for a fall wedding, while others want to jump the broom around Christmas and New Year’s.

James has accumulated some stories over the years. She refuses to tell a few of them, citing a select few may come after her.

“There has been a woman who’s been in to get married seven times … four of those times to the same person,” James said. “And you have those who make an appointment to be married and ask for an annulment the next day because it didn’t work out overnight.

“Then there are some women who dress up in the wedding gown and the veil as if they’re coming to the chapel like it’s a big church wedding.”

James said there are instances when one half of the couple wants to surprise the other.

“Sometimes a bride will come in alone to purchase a marriage license and then I present the question, ‘Where is the groom?’ and she says, ‘He’s not here, I want to surprise him.’ But that’s not in our policy,” James said.

Both the bride and groom must be present for the marriage license process, James said, but brides-to-be still manage to surprise their fiances.

“There have been one or two instances where the bride brings the groom in and the groom didn’t know they were there to get a marriage license. It’s like, ‘Surprise, honey! We’re getting married,'” James said.

“(The groom) acts out and I don’t want to repeat the language that he used.”

James said it’s never too late to say I do.

The cost of a marriage license is $45. A license and courthouse ceremony costs $60.

The courthouse only accepts cash payments, James said. Licenses will be void unless solemnized within 30 days of its issue date.

For more information, visit the Web site www.dallascounty-al.org.