Chief Judge Daniel L. Love has presided over weddings at bars, Boot Hill, the golf course, houses and even the Santa Fe Trail Tracks west of town.
But a ceremony he performed Tuesday at the Ford County Courthouse was by far the most memorable — It marked the 1000th wedding he has officiated over in his 23 years as a judge.
"He has always hoped he would reach 1000 before he retired," Love's wife Beth said. "We knew it was coming up but we never imagined it would be for someone we knew."
The bride and groom in Tuesday's ceremony were Silver and Jeff Eckles of Dodge City. Eckles' family is known in Dodge City as the namesake for the famous Eckles Department Store.
To celebrate his milestone and theirs, Love married the couple for no charge.
"Every 1000th wedding is free," he joked.
And even though it has been 999 ceremonies and 23 years since Love presided over his first ceremony, he remembers it well.
"It was at the bandshell in Wright Park," he said with a smile.
Other weddings stand out in his mind as well. He spoke of one ceremony where the groomsmen lined up with shotguns to show it was a real "shotgun wedding."
"They assured me the guns weren't loaded," Love said.
He has also performed a Renaissance-themed ceremony complete with vows in Old English.
But throughout the years, presiding over a ceremony in another language is something Love has become accustomed to.
"I do more weddings in Spanish now than I did in 1989 and the early 90s," he said.
He also has done weddings where he reads each line in Spanish and then in English so everyone participating can take part in the ceremony. And while Love only knows basic Spanish, he has spent quite a bit of time practicing his pronunciation.
"I wanted to do it right," he said.
So how does a judge keep track of the number of weddings he's officiated in more than two decades?
That's simple; with a folder.
He writes the couples names and wedding date on the inside of the folder. He currently has 11 of them listing the 2000 handwritten names.
Love has made all the notes himself, but he said keeping track of the numbers was initially unintentional.
"I just kept going. Once I started I didn't want to stop," he said.
Love performs roughly 42 weddings a year when the numbers are broken down, so in the two years of his remaining term he will rack up a few more and is happy to do so.
"I enjoy the meeting the people at weddings," he said. "It's such a happy occasion that brings forth two families."
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