Black woman in judge's robe wearing mask standing in front of white wedding decorations and flowers reds from a red file folder
Judge Kenya Johnson preparing between weddings at the Fulton County Probate Court on Friday, June 24 in downtown Atlanta. (Alex Guevara/Fresh Take Georgia)

Seventeen happy couples came to the Fulton County Probate Court to get married for free on Friday, June 24. 

Couples that received a marriage license, which costs $56 in Fulton County, could register with the court to hold a free ceremony in the courthouse under Judge Probate Judge Kenya Johnson and Chaplain Joc’Quelyn Carter. 

The date was chosen for multiple reasons — June is considered a lucky month for weddings and is the busiest month for weddings in Fulton County, Johnson said. Pride month also occurs in June and 2022 is the seventh anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling that made same sexual marriage legal in all 50 states, which was made in June of 2015.

“Not only is June considered a lucky month, it’s also the month we have our highest volume of marriage licenses, and it’s also Pride month and it coincides with the historic ruling allowing for same sex marriages,” Johnson said. “We put all of that together and provided an opportunity for couples to get married for free in our courthouse.”

Richard Wagner’s Here Comes the Bride rang out through the courtroom at the historic Lewis Slaton Courthouse all day as the couples exchanged their vows and said their I do’s.

Not every couple brought guests, wore traditional wedding regalia or had rings, but every couple was able to affirm their marriage with a kiss.

“We decorated the courtroom with a trestle and we have music, and so couples actually get to walk down the aisle,” Johnson said. “We have boutonnières and wedding bouquets that couples can borrow, so depending on where you are in your wedding preparation, even if you haven’t done anything you can still come here and have an experience.”

Wedding decorations; white table with white cloth and decorations and individual celebratory cupcakes
A display of cupcakes from A Bite of Pie bakery for couples participating in the free wedding event at the Fulton County Probate Court on June 24. (Alex Guevara/Fresh Take Georgia)

Once the happy couples exchanged their vows, they had a photo opportunity and received cupcakes from Atlanta-based bakery A Bite of Pie.

The Fulton County Probate court previously offered mass weddings that could marry up to 200 couples in the assembly hall, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused the mass weddings to stop for safety reasons, Johnson said. 

These free wedding events allow Fulton County residents a similar opportunity, but also allow the Probate Court to keep people safe with the 10 guest limit and mask usage.

The 15-minute time slots spread throughout the day were filled within 48 hours of registration opening, Johnson said.
A similar event was held by the Probate Court in February that aligned with Valentine’s Day. The court will continue to hold more free wedding events in the future, though none have been announced, Johnson said.

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