Some elect mayor to handle marriage
When it comes to requests for performing a wedding, it is likely Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas will say “I do.”
Since 2016, he has performed 12 weddings and while he doesn’t consider himself a professional now, he does consider it a part of his mayoral job duties.
“After the first one it got to be one of those things I do all the time. They come in, Carol (Oliveira) schedules them and I do them. In the beginning, my first one, I was nervous. I went over the wedding vows that I read to them, my part of it. I actually took it home and studied it, brought it in and I still read it. I’ve gotten used to it now,” he said.
He has more confidence now, but when he was asked to perform his first ceremony on Jan. 28, 2016, he was pretty nervous about it.
“I’m not a professional, but I don’t get as nervous as I did. … The first time it was like ‘What? I’m marrying somebody?!'” he added. “I never thought about it before, in fact, when I was first told I had to marry somebody I thought ‘Oh, what do you do?'”
Oliveira has served as 10 Dunkirk mayors’ assistant and said while some are aware of the practice, others are a little blindsided when asked for the first time. Rosas said Oliveira showed him the procedure and now they have the standard protocol down pat.
“It’s not a long process like a church wedding. They come in, we check their paperwork, line them up and boom. My part of the whole ceremony probably lasts five or 10 minutes. Then they have paperwork to sign, but my part is done,” he explained.
Couples schedule their ceremony with Oliveira and on the date they gather in the mayor’s conference room as Rosas reads a script that would sound familiar to those who have attended a nonreligious ceremony before.
It includes a greeting, a time to object, vows pledging their “love and honor, your duty and service, your faithfulness and tenderness and promise to live with and cherish” them until death do they part, as well as rings and a kiss.
Rosas said most couples dress up and bring their own witnesses, their parents and even sometimes a large group. Tears are not uncommon either.
“Sometimes they get emotional, I’ve had parents come in and get emotional, I’ve had brides get emotional and cry. To me it’s something serious. To have the authority to marry somebody is quite an experience in itself,” he said.
Rosas also found out he can take his wedding show on the road.
“The bride was somebody I went to school with and she called the office and asked if I could marry her. I of course said yes, but I didn’t realize it was out in Batavia. When I realized that, I told her I had to check on my authority to do that. … I had to ask the attorneys to look into it. They checked with New York Conference of Mayors and their counsel and we were told that, ‘Yes, we could.'”
He said now, since it is a free service, he only takes wedding appointments during business hours at city hall.
Oliveira said, in her experience, a dozen weddings is around the typical number for the mayor to perform annually. That works out to an average of one a month and 2017’s number is keeping up.
“One day I did two weddings in one day (Nov. 10). Sometimes you’ll go a week without an, then two a week,” Rosas added. “It seems like a lot more (than 12). …
“I consider it a part of the job now and as long as they come into city hall, I marry them. I take it very seriously; I don’t take it for granted. One of the most serious things I do as mayor is marrying people.”