Coronavirus Florida: With drive-thru nuptials, couples wed despite virus
The limousine had to make a three-point turn to make its way into the “Tunnel of Love,” the Alachua County Family and Civil Justice Center drive-thru window.
Once parked, David and Lindsey Kranson stepped outside with their two flower-girl daughters, Zoe, 7, and Josie, 6, and approached the “Wedding Window” to become husband and wife. Passersby watching on the nearby sidewalk cheered as they kissed.
The Kransons were among 30 couples who made an appointment with the Clerk of the Court’s office to be married Thursday evening, a special event for couples who had licenses but could not hold a traditional ceremony due to COVID-19. A second night of ceremonies is planned for Thursday, May 14.
Clerk of the Court Jess Irby said he wanted to give couples who had to cancel their weddings a chance to have their special day, albeit in an unusual way.
“We figured it might not be the wedding that you planned for, but we wanted to treat you right,” he said.
Members of Irby’s family decked out the side of the courthouse with Las Vegas-style decor, a nod to the “marriage capital of the world,” known for relatively inexpensive ceremonies and easy-to-acquire marriage licenses.
At the “Las Gainesville” weddings, lights twinkled on a “Congratulations!” sign taped to a dumpster, and traffic cones held up lines of tulle and bows that glistened as the sun set downtown.
Some couples exchanged rings from behind the wheel, while others stood at the window as lovebugs flew around the lovebirds.
For the ultimate Vegas wedding surprise, Irby also performed the ceremony as Elvis Presley, if requested. He threw on a wig, white leather jacket and pair of sunglasses, none of which he actually owned until earlier this week.
“I was hoping Amazon would mark it as essential,” he said. “I was getting worried it wouldn’t show up, but it finally came on Tuesday. Then I had to bedazzle it myself.”
Local businesses came to join in on the festivities as well.
Keith Watson, of Keith Watson Events, and his lead floral designer, Debbie Rowland, heard about the ceremonies earlier in the afternoon and set aside time to put together flower bouquets for all the brides.
Amanda Bowers, owner of Baker Baker, learned about the ceremonies from Irby himself when he came into her shop to pick up a birthday cake, and she asked if she could hand out cupcakes to the newlyweds. She also handed out a small container with birdseed to toss, another tradition.
“It was just an amazing idea he had,” she said. “And it doesn’t take much to make some cupcakes and bring that joy.”
One couple, Melanee and Sylvester Carmickal, drove to the ceremony all the way from Tampa.
Melanee Carmickal said she saw it advertised on a local news channel and called the clerk’s office to see if any appointments were still available. The Carmickals, who have been together for two years, originally planned to get married Friday at the Grand Plaza Hotel on St. Pete Beach.
“I just gave it a chance, and she said we had one slot left,” she said. “God opened up the door for us and gave us a way to get married at this time.”
This story originally published to gainsville.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.