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For officiants, marriage is all in a day's work

Weddings without a hitch

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Sheryl Padgett knows that when two people say “I do,” she is more than just an officiant and witness. She also is there to help alleviate stress on the wedding day.

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Wedding officiant Sheryl Padgett meets with Jenny Yarbrough to go over marriage details. Padgett is one of several people in the area who specialize in every detail of making hurried weddings succeed. Many quick weddings involve military personnel facing deployment.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Wedding officiant Sheryl Padgett meets with Jenny Yarbrough to go over marriage details. Padgett is one of several people in the area who specialize in every detail of making hurried weddings succeed. Many quick weddings involve military personnel facing deployment.

Sometimes, that means handing out tissues for crying family members, taking crackers to a bride with morning sickness or making coffee for intoxicated wedding party attendants.

“Even if it’s a quickie wedding, I try to make it an intimate moment in time,” Padgett said.

Padgett, an ordained minister at Unity Church of Augusta, specializes in helping a couple to obtain a marriage license and hold the ceremony in the same day. During the recent economic downturn, Padgett, a former engineer on a space shuttle launch pad, used her computer science background to build CSRAweddings.com.

“It’s been such a blessing to me and to the church,” she said. “You get to be a part of one of the biggest day’s of people’s lives.”

Betty Love, also an ordained minister, never thought she would specialize in weddings. Now, she knows that her last name destined her for marrying couples day after day.

She opened Love’s Wedding Chapel on Wrightsboro Road in 2001. She converted her hypnotherapy clinic, where she hypnotized people to help them quit smoking, into an office and wedding chapel.

About 40 percent of Love’s clients are military personnel who want to be married before deployment. Other couples have lived together for years before deciding to get hitched, and Love occasionally has couples who are eloping walk in the door.

Though most weddings are remembered for an emotion-filled couple, Love said she’ll never forget the groom who never cracked a smile. His face stayed stoical even when the best man scooped him up in his arms and carried him out of the gazebo in an attempt to stir a laugh.

“I don’t know if he was drunk or nervous or what,” Love said. “The bride was furious.”

Love tries not to schedule more than three weddings a day but hit a record last Nov. 11, when she married 11 couples. She married nine on Valentine’s Day, but, like most wedding officiants, stays busiest in June.

Rudy Brostrom, the owner of Gazebo Weddings and a minister at Stevens Creek Community Church, said he was trained to tie knots during his Navy career. He applied for a certificate to officiate weddings about 16 years ago when he was traveling on a cruise with a friend who was getting married. Although he was not needed for that wedding after a change of plans, Brostrom has married 8,300 couples.

“I feel so close a connection to God. Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this gives me the most joy,” he said.

Brostrom said it’s difficult knowing that so many marriages end in divorce. Often, a lack of commitment is evident during a ceremony. When he married a couple for the third time, he issued an ultimatum that they would have to go elsewhere if the situation occurred again.


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