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Love connection Courthouse to be site of a mass wedding

by J.R. Brammer

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Looking for a memorable place to tie the knot? Try the Harrison County Courthouse.

On Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell will take a page from Korean billionaire Rev. Sun Myung Moon's playbook and conduct a mass wedding in his third-floor courtroom.

All licensed couples are welcome to exchange vows during the 3 p.m. ceremony. No appointments are necessary.

"Last year, I did eight separate weddings on Valentine's Day," Bedell said. "It occurred to me that it may be fun, memorable and enjoyable to do it this way.

"If (Sun Myung) Moon can do 40,000 weddings at once I can do this."

Moon, a convicted felon, business tycoon and self-proclaimed "sinless Messiah," has conducted worldwide mass weddings since the 1960s. In 1997, he married more than 30,000 couples in RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

In West Virginia, judges and clergymen are certified to marry licensed couples.

State law requires people to obtain a marriage license through the county clerk's office. Couples must complete an application of personal information. No blood test is required. A marriage license costs $24.

"Usually, the process takes 15 minutes," said Harrison County Clerk Sylvia Basile.

Persons under the age of 18 must have parental consent. Those under the age of 16 need a court order.

Last year, Basile's office issued 425 marriage licenses.

Staff writer J.R. Brammer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at jbrammer@exponent-telegram.com.

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