The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 18, 2013

Weddings come true thanks to second annual ceremony in Stanly County

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer

Monday, February 18, 2013 — The only thing better than spending Valentine’s Day with the one you love is getting married on that day.

Nine couples had the opportunity only the most romantic person could envision as they were part of the day-long event put on by the Stanly County Register of Deeds office. Each couple got the chance to go to the courthouse in Albemarle and get married free of charge, sans the purchase of a marriage license. They also got to enjoy a reception with family and friends after the cermony.

“It has run very smoothly, it has been very organized and flowed very well,” said Assistant Register of Deeds Amanda Cody, one of several ladies who helped make the day special.

“We have not had any issues. It’s been wonderful. There’s been tons of great comments, everyone has just gone on and on about it and how it was more than they expected.”

It was a hectic day that began at 9 a.m. Brides had their hair done by members of the Stanly Community College Cosmetology De-partment. One couple after another were ushered into one of the third-story rooms in the courthouse where the actual wedding ceremony took place. After that, the newly married couple and their guests headed to another room for the reception and pictures, which were provided by Michael Massey of Massey Photo-graphy and Joy Brown of Sweet Dreams Portrait Studio. It was a steady pace that went on into the late afternoon hours.

“This is our second time doing this, and it’s a really great thing,” said Massey, who’s been shooting weddings since 1979.

“(Register of Deeds) Suzanne Lowder was the one who contacted us about helping put this on. Every hour we did a different wedding. I enjoy doing this.”

Massey ended up taking pictures for four of the weddings while Brown worked the other five. Each took turns as a different couple came in for their wedding.

“The best part is we are creating a history for people who could not ordinarily have all the bells and whistles,” said Brown, who has been in the business for 20 years.

“That makes us very happy. It’s for our community, everybody reaching out. Weddings are our passion at Sweet Dreams, and it’s what we love to do. We are always very excited to do this. It’s hectic but it’s worth it.”

This is the second year the Register of Deeds office has put on such an event. It’s a novel idea that allows couples the chance to get married who might not otherwise because the economy is tight and due to the overall cost of a wedding.

Around 50 businesses from the county helped make the memorable day possible. More than $10,000 in donated prizes, food and other amenities were given out. Couples had the chance to invite 20-25 friends and family and were even given the chance to either use their own minister or a magistrate on site.

Joseph G. Faulkner has performed wedding ceremonies for at least eight years but found this occasion extra special.

“If you can have a fun part of your job, this is the fun part of your job,” said Faulkner, who came from court proceedings to officiate the marriage of Stefanie and Michael White.

“As a criminal and civil magistrate, we see enough bad going on. This is our fun time.

“When you have two people that come before you that are in love, with the economy the way it is, they might not have a lot of money to have a big wedding. It’s really a pleasure to do this for the people.”

One of the couples married on Valentine’s Day actually waited a little longer than they originally anticipated. Roger and Cathy Phillips heard about what the Register of Deeds office was doing last year when the idea first began. But circumstances didn’t allow them to join the five couples who got married that day.

So they waited an entire year before getting the chance to say their vows and tie the knot. On top of that, Cathy won a wedding dress that was one of the grand prizes given out a week or so before Valentine’s Day.

Their day has been extra special.

“It was like a church wedding. If I were to tell someone about it, I couldn’t do it justice,” Roger Phillips said.

“They just did an amazing job. That, in addition to the prizes they gave out from area merchants really, really boosted it. I would recommend this to anyone who’s on a budget and will say ‘Well, I really can’t afford to have a wedding yet’ and they are putting it off because they can’t afford it. Check it out.”

The newlyweds had known each other for several years and their children even went to school together. So it just felt right for the two to get married. It’s the second marriage for both.

“It was easier because they had planned it for me. I felt like a princess,” Cathy Phillips said.

“Everybody was doing everything for me and I didn’t have to do anything for the wedding. It was really awesome. It was just one blessing after another.”

The Phillipses were spending their honeymoon in a cabin at Morrow Mountain. The Whites were heading to Myrtle Beach after their ceremony.

“I didn’t know they did all this for Valentine’s Day until we actually went and got the marriage license (in January),” Stefanie White said.

“Being that it’s Valentine’s Day … you won’t forget the anniversary,” Michael White said.

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 34 or email at