Her usual job is documenting pleas of “guilty” or “not guilty,” but on Valentine’s Day, Prince William County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court Jacqueline Smith was in taking vows of “I do” in an annual wedding event.
“We started doing it because we don’t have a lot of things to celebrate at the courthouse,” Smith said.
One by one, couples stepped up to the altar setup at Three Monkeys Pub and Chophouse in Manassas’ historic downtown to accept their life sentence of love.
By day’s end, Smith had officiated 32 marriages.
“Every time I perform a wedding, I think about my wedding day, and how happy I was and how special it was. I can see that in our couples,” Smith said.
Orlando Pizaro and Karen Aguilar were among the couples to take part in Monday’s ceremonies. They’ve been in a relationship for eight years and decided this event was the perfect opportunity to make it official.
“It’s a new start,” Pizaro said.
For Stephanie and Kevin Aguilar, after 10 years together, they were excited to take part and say, “I do.”
“I feel lovely right now; I just want to walk outside and tell everybody I’m married,” Stephanie Aguilar said.
The 146-year-old building where the restaurant resides may provide luck for the new couples. It had once a been a church and, no doubt, has been home to many weddings.
Karen Williams, one of the owners of Three Monkeys Pub and Chophouse, said this is the perfect way to give back to the community. The restaurant also rallied 26 area businesses to donate gifts, and even cakes for the couples.
“One of the other owners keeps saying, ‘We’re just in love with love around here,’” Williams said.
Cobby and Audrey Manteaw from Woodbridge are originally from Ghana, so plan to have a more formal wedding there. They chose Monday’s event to say their vows so they can obtain their Virginia marriage license.
“We were very excited and blessed to see this day,” Audrey Manteaw said.
For Roquia and Nicolas Hagler, of Woodbridge, they said there is no better day to tie the knot.
“It was just a great thing to have it on Valentine’s Day, the day of love,” Roquia Hagler said.
In addition to the weddings, Smith said many couples used Monday’s event as a chance to renew their vows.