What will an official do to lawfully raise some revenue for cash-strapped local government?

Well, if you’re Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters, you offer to host and officiate more weddings – and even wedding vow renewals.

Waters used personal funds to put a makeshift wedding chapel in the back of her office in June 2015, shortly after same-sex marriages were ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. That room has been available for heterosexual couples as well, and Waters has routinely officiated marriages there.

But now, she’s taking it a step farther, by offering wedding vow renewal services. For a $25 fee collected by her office, Waters will host and officiate a wedding vow renewal. The couple receives a copy of their vows and a certificate.

The first vow renewal service took place Thursday, 10 a.m. at the Muskegon County Courthouse. Muskegon County Commissioner Jeff Lohman and his wife of 15 years, Lisa, renewed their wedding vows.


Source: JadeProm

“When Commissioner Lohman approached me and said, ‘Do you ever do renewal of vows?’ – Ding! Ding! Dollar sign! Dollar sign! – I thought that that could be a new feature for us and so we are rolling out today our new service,” Waters said before conducting the service.

Like many local governments in Michigan, money is tight for Muskegon County. 2016 budget for the County Clerk’s office included the removal of an elections coordinator coordinator position, to save $60,000.

To roll out Thursday’s service, Waters used a larger room on the fourth floor of the Muskegon County government building. Even so, the room was packed with attendees: the Lohman family, Lisa Lohman’s original bridesmaids from 2001, the original flower girl from 2001, and an assortment of Muskegon County Commissioners, county department heads and at least one judge.

The groom wore a tan suit and the bride wore a floral print summer dress. Lisa Lohman giggled when her husband had trouble squeezing the ring onto her finger – she said it was because their fingers were thicker than 15 years ago. The happy couple also cut a cake and served each other, opting not to mash the cake into each others face.

After Waters pronounced them “renewed husband and wife,” Jeff Lohman thanked everyone for attending. Waters and the Lohmans served cake and non-alcoholic, non-taxpayer-funded sparkling white grape juice.

“When times get stormy, pull out your vows and remind each other of you love today,” Waters said.

Waters has some history of getting involved in weddings. On Saturday, March 22, 2014, she was one of only four county clerks in the state – and the only one in West Michigan – to sign same-sex marriage licenses when a window of opportunity in the courts appeal process arguably allowed it. She was later named Libertarian of the Year by the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Wedding renewals are a new step, if a less controversial one.

“We decided to roll it out to the public because the months of May, June, July and August are the highest months for weddings and therefore would probably provide us with the greatest opportunity for this service, although it will continue year round,” Waters wrote in an email. “We are probably the first and only County Clerk office in Michigan to feature this new service.”

At a later date, she hopes market the larger upstairs room marriage services for $50 — double the price.

Also see: Bridesmaid Dresses

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