The group wedding at Pinckneyville Center

The Pinckneyville Park Recreation Center in Berkeley Lake was starting to fill up.  It was an eclectic mix of men and women: different ages, different races, and different styles of dress. One thing they had in common, however, was the constant checking of time.  On this day, time was of the essence.

Kristina Blum and Chris Ballar were watching time as well.  They had their own style of dress but with good reason; both are Gwinnett County judges.  Kristina is the county Chief Magistrate Judge while Chris is the county Probate Judge.  Dressed in their black gowns the two stood out in a sea of mostly white.  That they stood in front of nearly 100 people on a Saturday morning was their own doing.

"Chris and I took office together in January 2013," Judge Blum explained.  "One of our duties is to handle marriages and we knew people liked to get married on unique dates. We looked at the calendar and saw December 13, 2014 coming up."



To make a wedding on that day even more unique,  the judges decided that the vows should be exchanged at 10:11am, lining up 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.  With a date, and time, in mind, the judges approached the Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation Department to help put an event together.  The Pinckneyville Recreation Center was tabbed as the venue and then it was just a matter of waiting for the big day to arrive.  

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Saturday, December 13, 2014, was a cool, sunny day.  Kaitlyn Wrhel and Nathan Strop, both 21, were one of the younger couples at the Pinckneyville Center.  They've known each other since they were 10 years old and they've been an item for the last five years.  "We thought about it a week ago," Kaitlyn said about getting married on December 13th.  "We thought it would be fun."  The honeymoon, however, will have to wait.  "We'll go to lunch and then it's back to the daily grind," Nathan said.

Jaquan Ray is a Flint, Michigan native who now lives in Snellville.  He and his bride to be, Michele Fletcher, had one of the larger groups of family and friends on hand.  They too made the decision to tie the knot only one week before the event.

"I was panicked," Michele exclaimed about the lack of time.  "But it all came together."  Jaquan said there would be a reception at the house and then the newlyweds would be off to Jamaica, "to escape the cold."

Compared to some of the other couples, Julia Futch and Christopher Johnson had more time to plan for their big day.  "I heard about it on the radio about three weeks ago," Christopher said, adding, "We thought that would be cool."  According to Julia, three weeks to get ready was barely enough time. "It was a crunch getting everything together," she said.  The two planned to celebrate their marriage with lunch, followed by a reception at home.

Just before 10:00 in the morning, everyone was gathered in the main room of the center. At 10:06, Judge Ballar began the ceremony: "Dearly beloved we are gathered here today…", and at 10:11, as planned, the brides and grooms exchanged their "I do's."  

If you missed out on the 12/13/14 group wedding, don't worry, there are more sequential dates on the way.  You just have to be a little patient.  In 20 years there will be January 2, 2034 (1,2,3,4), and in 89 years there will be January 2, 2103 (1,2,3).  The next 12, 13, 14, however, won't come around for 100 more years when the calendar hits December 13, 2114.  My advice: Don't Wait!EARLGRAY

Earl Gray is a freelance writer.  Send comments/suggestions to etg_3@hotmail.com.