After performing some 400 marriages in all kinds of situations and outfits, you could call Ronny Glossup "The Love Judge"
Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

Feb. 20, 2004 -- Between arraignments, evictions, landlord/tenant issues, civil court, truancy and the signing of death certificates, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup said the adventure of uniting couples is definitely among his more pleasurable duties.

By proxy, by boat, behind bars and barefoot, Glossup has dressed up and dressed down to perform his fair share of unusual unions.

"I've worn all kinds of stuff," said the Precinct 2 justice of the peace, who has been asked to wear anything from tuxedos to boots and jeans and even shorts and flip-flops.

Glossup has united couples on a barge in the middle of Cooper Lake as well as a few dressed in Western attire and on horseback.

"I always offer them the redneck version," Glossup said. "I say, 'You 'ont to?' And they say, 'A'ite."

According to Glossup, he has performed almost 400 ceremonies since he took office in 1995.

"One couple even had me handcuff them together and left the office that way. I'm not sure what that was all about," he laughed.

While Valentine's Day is always a favorite wedding date, Glossup said he has performed ceremonies at midnight on New Year's Eve, as well as on the Fourth of July.

"Yeah, this little couple decided to do it spur of the moment, and the bride just walked outside barefoot and I married them under a shade tree," he recalled of his last Independence Day ceremony.

Another couple he wed chose to get married at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning, he recalled.

"That's a real unusual hour to want to tie the knot," laughed Glossup. "I guess they wanted to start their week off married."

Glossup said that he has even married folks on their lunch break.

"Most of the time people will just drop by," Glossup said. "Or my secretary will call me up and say, 'Do you have time to do a wedding?'"

A ceremony can last anywhere from five minutes to 45 minutes for Glossup, as he occasionally performs traditional ceremonies, as well.

"I've married couples in just about every church in the county," he said.

There are lots of reasons people might get married by a justice of the peace, Glossup explained.

"Some people might not go to a church or have a pastor, but mostly it's because it's cheaper than a church wedding," he said, "There are no arrangements to make, and people can just drop by (providing they have a marriage license.) A lot of folks would rather spend the money on a honeymoon trip to Vegas or the Bahamas."

But for some couples, a honeymoon night at home is excitement enough.

"I married a man that was about 88 years old and his bride was 87," recalled Glossup. "When I asked them where they were going to spend their honeymoon, they said they were going home to watch 'Wheel of Fortune.'"

Unfortunately for some couples Glossup has married, the honeymoon has been spent behind bars.

"I've married couples when both the bride and groom were in jail," he said. "Or one might be and the other not. I usually ask the officer if he will give them just a minute or two to hug and kiss. That's about all they can do when they're incarcerated."

Glossup has even performed one wedding by proxy.

"The groom was in prison and had his mother stand in for him," remembered Glossup. "That was real strange. It was very awkward to say 'Do you take this woman?' to another woman. I was scared to death wondering if they were going to kiss at the end."

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer and in sickness and in health, Glossup said he has experienced it all -- even a few so called "shotgun weddings."

"Parents will come in here with a little ol' young couple," he explained. "They're usually from a neighboring county and want to keep things quiet, but I kinda know what's going on."

It's not uncommon, according to Glossup, for some unwed couples expecting a child to change their minds about marriage.

"I guess at the last minute they decide they want to make things right," said Glossup. "I've had 'em get married in my office and go to the hospital that night to have a baby."

In spite of all the various situations and circumstances, some comical and some not, Glossup takes the subject of matrimony and his role to heart.

"I've seen a lot of unusual weddings, but I take my job and marriage very serious," said Glossup, who believes in the phrase "'til death do you part."

"When I talk to young people, I always tell them to wait until they're really ready, and to make sure they are ready," he said. "I try to instill in them that it needs to be with somebody they truly love.

"I mean, this is someone you are going to spend the rest of your life with," added Glossup, who has been married to his wife Anita for almost 37 years. "People need to realize when you get married, when we say 'I do,' we are not our own anymore. We belong to each other. When decisions are made it affects each of you. You have got to stop and consider the other (spouse)."

But according to Glossup, some people don't seem to understand the importance of marriage vows and their meaning any more, and that is evident in the divorce rate today.

"If couples would set their minds to working it out, then they would," Glossup explained. "Marriage is not giving 50 percent of yourself, it's giving 100 percent, all the time. A man and a woman both have to give completely."

Glossup said that he always tries to give couples "some direction."

"I always tell couples, 'You fell in love with each other for who they are, so don't go trying to change them into something they're not," he said. "'God made us all different and you knew this when you fell in love with this person.' I tell them, 'You need to always be each other's best friend and not let anyone else get closer to the other than you are. You have to be able to forgive and not hold grudges and live each day that you might share it together.'"

Glossup said that he believes a marriage should be based on Biblical principles and uses scripture and prayer in all his weddings.

"I believe that's the way it's suppose to be done," he said. "I've had people not want me to say 'God' or want anything religious. I've done it once before and I didn't feel good about it. I won't ever do it again. They'll just have to find someone else, because I think you need to base the foundation of your marriage in God. You need to always look to God for leadership and direction and always be able to forgive."

We're all just human, Glossup said, and people are bound to mess up occasionally.

"If you love someone, you've got to be able to forgive," he said. "People are gonna hurt you, and you've got to be able to work through it."

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