News beat: covering stories, and, oh yeah, witnessing a marriage
Over the years, I’ve come across many interesting situations where I never know what’s going to happen next on the news beat. Such was one of those cases last week at the Steele County Courthouse.
As I was making my rounds doing some previously arranged stories, I stumbled onto something that caught me totally by surprise. I became one of two witnesses to a wedding of an Owatonna couple. (You’ll notice my signature on the left hand side of the marriage certificate.) The other witness was a courthouse employee.
Recorder Rick Kvien was sharing with me how his office began performing marriages in June. As he was going through the logistics of how it all works, he paused for a second and said, “In fact, I have a couple coming in a few minutes to get married.”
With my journalist instinct taking over, I found a perfect story and it couldn’t be an even more ideal way to tell the story than with a couple right there.
“I couldn’t have asked for this to happen any better,” I thought to myself.
Sure enough, a few minutes later Jacob Riffe and Kathrine Richards of Owatonna came into the recorder’s office ready to tie the knot. She had left her job at Farm Service Agency in Dodge Center a little early to get married. They may not have looked like a bride and groom as they were clad in their jeans, but never-the-less they were ready to share their love for each other by becoming one.
The couple graciously agreed to allow me to be a part of their special day by doing a story for the newspaper. But that wasn’t all.
A short time later Kvien turned to me and asked, “Do you want to be a witness for the wedding?”
“Why not?” I shot back at him. “I would love to be a part of it.”
After the necessary paperwork was completed, we headed out to the foyer of the Administration Center where Kvien performed his service. Within a few minutes, Kvien pronounced Riffe and Richards as husband and wife.
“It was easy,” Riffe proclaimed
In addition to snapping a few photos of Riffe and Richards giving their marriage vows, I also became a witness to their joyous occasion. I signed the marriage certificate to make it all official.
As journalists, we’re taught to not become part of the story. But, gosh darn, how can one refuse to take part in such a life changing experience like marriage.
With the Riffes officially married without anyone knowing, they were prepared for “the 21 questions of when we’re going to have a party.” For the record, they weren’t exactly sure yet, but plan to do something in the near future. They also plan to take a honeymoon next year.
“We just fly by the seat of our pants,” the new bride said.
I must admit it was the quickest wedding I have ever been a part of. But it doesn't dampen my wishes to the newly married couple for much happiness as they begin their new life together.
This was just a lesson for me that you never know what you’re going to end up with while venturing out in hot pursuit of covering the community.