With Facebook Live weddings, the whole world could be watching
By Joe Harless
As a rule, government offices are not places of mirth and excitement at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning. The lines for service never seem to move fast enough, it’s too early for lunch and the weekend is still two days away.
But for Robby Ackles and Sierra Brischler, it’s the right time to for a courthouse wedding.
“This is it,” Brischler said, smiling while looking at the arch under which she and Ackles would exchange vows on December 13th. “This is literally it.”
The couple’s energy can be sensed from across the room at the Official Records Department at the historic Hillsborough County Courthouse, a few employees behind the counter smiling as they complete their paperwork. One of their wedding guests, seated in the waiting area, asks about the cost. “It’s $30 for the ceremony,” Brischler said, adding, “It’s too late. We already paid!”
As the couple stands beneath the wedding arch, a Clerk’s Office employee starts streaming the ceremony on Facebook Live and announces 12 people are watching.
Usually, wedding ceremonies are done at the Official Records public counter. The arch, walled off from the rest of the Official Records office, is used for photos after the ceremonies and for weddings shown on Facebook Live. It’s a busy spot on Valentine’s Day, the most popular wedding day of the year at the courthouse.
The Clerk’s Office issued 10,950 marriage licenses in 2017 and performed 4,081 ceremonies. The Clerk’s Office website, hillsclerk.com, provides answers to many frequently asked questions about marriages, including how to apply for a license, who is allowed to perform marriage ceremonies and what couples need to know before getting married (for example, there’s a three-day wait after getting a license unless you have completed approved pre-marriage counseling).
Wedding ceremonies are offered at the downtown courthouse, the Plant City Courthouse and the Brandon Service Center. Couples say it’s a convenient and affordable approach.
“It’s less stressful,” explained Ackles, gesturing to friends and family laughing and taking pictures with their phones. “This is everyone we wanted at our wedding.”
After a couple minutes, the ceremony ends, and Ackles smiles. “We’re married now!” he says exultantly.” “Now off to Top Golf!”
At one point, 14 people were watching the ceremony on Facebook Live, including one from Belgium. A video of the wedding remains on the Clerk’s Facebook page so more people can enjoy Robby and Sierra’s special day. It has been viewed more than 1,100 times.
If you would like your ceremony streamed on Facebook Live, email firstname.lastname@example.org