Kirk and Bianca Crawford met at work where they are both nurses. For a while, they shared a friendship. After Monday, they now share a last name.
On Monday, May 6, the couple was the first to be wed in the new marriage room at the Circuit Court for Carroll County.
“It didn’t really matter where, but we knew that we wanted to be married,” Bianca said.
With her dressed in a flowing white dress and beaded details and him sporting a navy suit, they were married in a short, traditional ceremony under an archway decorated with blue flowers and soft twinkling lights.
Just before they began the ceremony, Clerk of the Circuit Court Heather DeWees told the couple, “This is our pride and joy. And you’re the very first.”
DeWees officiated the marriage, and was also part of the committee that moved the marriage area to a different room in the courthouse and decorated it with a barn wedding theme.
Although barns might bring to mind hay bales and a bright red and white color scheme, the theme is more rustic, with soft blues and grays. Think paintings of barns at sunset, flowers in tin pails and weathered-looking wood in cool tones.
Barn weddings are popular, and it’s a good way to give the room a Carroll County character that matches the agricultural heritage of the area, members of the committee said. The changes came together in about two weeks that involved scouring the county’s craft and decorating stores for the perfect pieces.
“It’s neat to see the transformation of the room,” said Robin Crouse, senior land records & licensing clerk.
Dawn Bowlin, senior supervisor of land records and licensing, and Terrie Connolly, senior manager of court operations, also contributed to the marriage committee.
The old room was smaller, and the walls were a plain off-white. The person officiating the wedding would stand behind a metal music stand.
Besides aesthetics, the change has security benefits for the employees of the Clerk’s Office too, DeWees said. It helps separate the publicly used area of the Clerk’s Office away from private offices where confidential work related to court cases and sometimes involving crime victims takes place.
“I think the marriage room reflects not only our office but reflects the county.” DeWees said. She wants it to be a nice-looking space for photographs and help the day feel special for couples even if they cannot afford a venue wedding.
She said the project was part of her six-month plan after she took office as the 22nd clerk of the court on Dec. 3.
Any couple that gets married in Carroll County, regardless of venue, pays for a marriage license application, which are $35. The cost to have the ceremony at the courthouse is $25, and it can take place in the new marriage room or outside in the courtyard.
Couples can request a specific clerk to officiate as long as the date works in that person’s schedule. Outside officiants cannot perform ceremonies at the courthouse. However, a clerk may travel outside of the courthouse to perform a civil marriage ceremony in Carroll County.
If a person incarcerated in the Carroll County Detention Center wants to be married, Circuit Court clerks have the jurisdiction to do so there, but not at any other correctional facility in Maryland.
In 2018, there were 341 civil marriage ceremonies officiated at the Carroll County Circuit Courthouse.
The total number of marriage license applications in Carroll County was 970.
To schedule a civil marriage ceremony, couple should visit the Land Records & Licensing Department on the ground floor of the Circuit Court Annex Building. Applicants can call 410-386-8760 with questions or visit www.courts.state.md.us/clerks/Carroll.