PHARR — When asked if they do, they did.
Several couples were married by Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Jaime “Jerry” Muñoz on Friday as part of a yearly tradition in which the judge, among others, waives the wedding fees on Valentine’s Day.
“We don’t charge them any money,” he said. “We waive any fee for conducting the ceremony.”
Muñoz said that on a normal day, couples can expect to pay about $150 for wedding services, depending on the circumstances. He said that this is his fourth year in which he waives the service fees for couples on Valentine’s Day.
“It’s really neat because there are so many family and friends that come,” Muñoz said. “Every couple’s different, but you get to see a lot of family and friends. You get to see couples who’ve waited a very long time to do this, to actually go through with it. It’s always a lot of fun.”
By mid-afternoon, Muñoz had already married 24 couples, but expected to have officiated at least 40 unions by the end of the day.
“As justice of the peace, it’s a big honor for me to have these individuals allow me to officiate their marriages,” Muñoz said.
One of those couples, Juan Sanchez, 21, of Palmview, and Yaileen Gutierrez, 18, of McAllen, entered the Precinct 2 courtroom just after 3 p.m. with about 10 family members and friends.
At the head of the courtroom, a large banner covered with hearts was displayed, as well as heart-shaped balloons.
The young couple were told where to stand, and Muñoz then exited his chambers and entered the courtroom.
The ceremony took just over two minutes.
“It was a good opportunity,” Sanchez said following the ceremony. “It’s really nice. I thought there was going to be more people here, but it’s just us.”
“Just family,” Gutierrez added.
A few minutes later, David Gutierrez, 24, of McAllen, and Chasity Rodriguez, 25, of Los Angeles, California, entered the courtroom and awaited their turn.
“We just didn’t want to wait, and we really wanted to be together,” Gutierrez said after getting married. “We hear that every year (Muñoz) marries people on Valentine’s Day. We just went for it. It was very quick, just the way I wanted it.”