State law prohibits sitting judges from accepting money for performing weddings, so many officiate only as a favor to friends or court staff members, said Iris Marrus, Justice Marrus’s wife, who is the company’s founder and president.
The potential market for a business like Judges for Love is growing. Between 1960 and 2015, the number of Americans in interfaith marriages jumped to 39 percent from 19 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. Same-sex marriage is also on the rise, especially after the United States Supreme Court affirmed the rights of such marriages nationwide two years ago.
“I think the trend certainly has accelerated in the past 10 years for something like this,” Justice Marrus said. The company, which opened for business in August, has weddings booked into July 2018.
Robert Cook, 33, and his fiancé, Stephen Meinschein, 34, felt their options for a ceremony were limited.
They did not want to be married in a church, nor did they think many churches would welcome them, Mr. Cook said. The idea of being married by a friend ordained online was not appealing either; they wanted something that felt more official.
But when they searched online for other registered officiants, they discovered a “weird mishmash of people,” Mr. Cook said. “One was a nightclub owner, another made her own jewelry, another was an IBM executive, and none of them were kind of speaking to us.”
Then they found Judges for Love.
“And we thought, it was the judiciary that helped us get married, so wouldn’t it be cool if we could have a judge do our marriage for us?” he said.
The couple are scheduled to marry in July and have asked Justice Marrus to include a reading from the Supreme Court’s decision upholding same-sex marriage.
On Saturday, at the Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington, Justice Marrus stood at the end of a petal-strewn walkway, beneath a gazebo. Several of the roughly 100 guests wore traditional Korean hanboks or Indian saris; the bride wore a classic white gown.
Mia Yu, 32, and Ambar Keluskar, 25, had a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony on Friday, for Mr. Keluskar’s family, but Ms. Yu had wanted “the whole white dress ceremony” too, Mr. Keluskar said.
That left open the question of who should officiate the second ceremony, as neither Mr. Keluskar nor Ms. Yu is religious.
When they saw an advertisement for Judges for Love online, they realized that hiring a judge would not only answer the officiating question, but also several others: “I’m the first of my friends to get married, so we didn’t even really know what a wedding looks like,” Mr. Keluskar said before the ceremony.
Justice Marrus, of course, did.
His expertise on what makes for a successful wedding and marriage comes not only from the dozens of ceremonies he has performed, or his legal career. He also draws from his own marriage to Ms. Marrus, with whom he will celebrate his 46th anniversary this winter.
Two of the other Judges for Love, Sheryl Parker and John Walsh, are also married.
“I can’t say that a judge presiding over a wedding will guarantee anything,” Ms. Marrus said with a laugh. “But it’s a nice thing for couples to see that the judges presiding over these marriages know the importance of the commitment.”
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