The festive annual first-time-ever event, “Vows and Valentines,” took place on Feb. 14 at the old Bucks County Courthouse on a frigid but sunny afternoon.
Officiating was Judge Brian T. McGuffin who volunteered his time to perform both wedding and vow renewal ceremonies, which he did twice − once in group form and another with couples alone.
But first, McGuffin gave a brief discourse on St. Valentine’s Day. There were at least three different saints named Valentine, all of whom were martyred, according to the judge.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas.
McGuffin was not the only volunteer that day. The entire afternoon consisted of volunteer efforts on behalf of community businesses that donated flowers, food and desserts to the event.
It was Linda Bobrin, register of wills and clerk of the Orphans’ Court and Rachel Landsberg, financial coordinator, who conceived the idea after putting their heads together following a similar event on Veterans Day 2021.
Bobrin got the joyous occasion off to a rousing start with an introduction of county officials and gratitude for the many volunteers. She addressed not only the jam-packed crowd on the third floor but also the audience on the fourth floor who viewed it from the railing above.
A total of 16 marriages and nine vow renewals were performed on this Valentine’s Day. Wedding apparel ranged from a full-length gown with train, a satin strapless gown, and short cocktail dresses for others. White was the favored color for brides with a few pink ones scattered in. Men were attired in suits and jeans, and one wore an Air Force uniform to renew his vows. Boots, shiny leather shoes and sneakers prevailed for men’s footwear and skinny stiletto heels for most women.
The old traditions were not left out. “Something old” was covered by the old courthouse, “something new,” of course, was the new courthouse across the street from which Bobrin “borrowed” Judge McGuffin. “Old,” “new” and “borrowed” spoken for, left only the cerulean blue sky above to finish off that familiar custom.
Flowers were in abundance. Ladies were gifted bouquets and boutonnieres adorned men’s lapels. Each couple received a gift bag that included a romantic cookbook.
Donations made it all possible through Quinoa Peruvian and Mexican Cusisine, Novel Baker, Bird of Paradise Flowers, Doylestown Wedding Studio, Bucks-Mont Party Rental, Duck Donuts, Courtney Kanig Photography, Mervin Toussaint Jazz Band, James Best Videography, Le Macaron French Pastries, Inferno (Peddler’s Village), Sprout Flowers, Huggable Events, Altamonte’s Italian Market, Mary Anne Pastry Shoppe, and money from Melissa V. Bond, Dana Rivera, Doug Wayne, Steely and Smith LLC, and Paist and Noe Inc.
Music played in the background throughout the wedding feast. Seviche, Mexican street corn, empanadas, grilled vegetables, skewered chicken, plenty of French pastries, cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts and an array of anything sweet under the sun was displayed on the tables and professionally served by participating staff members of restaurants. Each table reserved for guests held a floral centerpiece.
The weddings and vow renewals put a happy smile on the faces of all the loving couples. There were only two clinks during the entire ceremony when nervous hands dropped the all-important wedding bands.