From 2008 through 2021 Sandi took pictures of Ernest as he officiated at dozens of weddings.
It was Sandi who suggested the name “Romantic Weddings”; “in Connecticut” was added by Ernest.
When people would ask us how we met, Sandi would usually look at me shyly. That was my cue to say, “We met through a mutual friend.” Most people didn’t ask “Who was that?” If someone asked, I’d tell them the whole truth, which usually got a smile.
A few years later, Andrea, one of Sandi’s daughters, was introduced to Steve, her now-husband, by the same friend. In fact, it was Andrea and Steve’s journey of engagement and trying to find someone who would officiate at their wedding without having to join the person’s church, or take classes, or jump through other hoops, which began my thoughts about becoming a Justice of the Peace. When Andrea and Steve finally found MaryAnn, their perfect officiant, and had a beautiful wedding ceremony, I began to think seriously about what to do when I retired from being a software engineer.
In my usual habit of over-thinking things, I mentioned to Sandi that I was held back by the prospect of being responsible for two people getting married who weren’t right for each other. (Sandi was always the practical one in our relationship, so she set me on the right path.) “You’re not telling them that they should get married. They’ve already made that decision. You’d just be helping them have the wedding ceremony that they want, not what somebody else insists they must have.”
Sandi’s common sense prevailed. As if I were beginning the biggest software project of my life, I began doing research and studying the marriage laws of Connecticut and how one becomes a Justice of the Peace. Sandi was happy that I was so full of joy at having a mission of serving people in a brand-new way.
Customer service has always been important to me, and when I taught C programming at the college level, “Think of the user first, and what they might do if you don’t give them clear instructions and ways to recover from a simple input mistake.” was always a big part of the course.When I was the lead programmer at a software company (and wrote most of the user manual), I actually enjoyed answering support calls. A customer’s programmer needed help and I could provide that help, and probably figure out how to improve manual in the process!
(But back to becoming a Justice of the Peace [JP].) With Sandi’s support and help, I did become appointed as a JP. Sandi knew about handfasting and other Scottish wedding traditions, so she gave me a push toward learning about cultural traditions from other parts of the world. Over the years many couples have taught me a lot about their native, or at least traditional, wedding rituals. “Red thread?” “Sure!” “Double happiness?” “Absolutely! And you’ll be wearing a red dress?”
Sandi had a good camera and enjoyed taking photographs, so she would often go with me when I was going to officiate. We always had good conversations in the car on the way about how this wedding was going to be different and why. Sandi had a good eye for a picture that spoke volumes; she took the photo of Juno the Beluga whale that is on the home Page of this website and has literally traveled around the world in original form and in countless parodies.
By now you’ve noticed that I’ve been speaking of Sandi in the past tense. Sandi was a strong lady, and survived cancer several times in our years together. After years of fighting, cancer finally metastasized into bone marrow cancer and took her life in 2022.
These days, I am still joyfully celebrating marriage as I officiate at each couple’s ceremony.
Each wedding brings reassurance that love continues to blossom,
and that love never ends.
👰 Marie O. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Ernest was a great JOP for us. He was recommended to us by a friend. We did a ceremony last minute and he made himself available and was flexible with the times. We enjoyed his calm manner and friendly personality. He made us feel very comfortable and we enjoyed every minute!!