Historic first, 27 years in the making

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It was an historic day, 27 years in the making.

That long ago, give or take, then-waitress Barbara Waugh walked up to a table at the old Continental to take an order. She had admittedly heard it all before, but something about one particular tall, handsome stranger caught her eye.

“I had a special line,” explained Eric Young, with a trademark quick smile.

“’Give me a Canadian, please,’” recalled Waugh.

“I said please,” Young responded.

A shared life adventure was initiated through that first encounter. Communal commitment, rather than a legal document celebrated their union for close to three decades, before the couple elected to spend their next 27 years together officially as man and wife.

“Well, it’s about time,” Young conceded. “We’ve been going to do it for the last couple of years.”

Young popped the question just over a month ago on Valentine’s Day.

“I said, ‘I suppose,’” smiled Waugh.

Town of Tillsonburg Council said ‘I do’ to performing civil marriage ceremonies late in 2012, but Waugh and Young would be the first to exercise that option, Friday afternoon in council chambers, beginning at 2 p.m.

The bride was attired in a tiered ankle-length white dress, elegant in its tasteful simplicity. The groom wore a classic dark suit, pale blue shirt, red tie set off by a single red rose pinned over his right breast – and just a hint of nervousness.

Town of Tillsonburg Clerk Donna Wilson sported an appropriately elegant dark brown pants suit and just a touch of her own nervousness. Given the presence of a video camera to record the special occasion, Wilson was aware any miscues would be saved for posterity.

“All my stumbles would be recorded.”

There would be no stumbles. Young and best man Brian O’Doherty waited in anticipation as Waugh was escorted a cappella down council chambers’ right aisle by her brother John Dwayne Waugh, preceded by ring bearer Logan Waugh, flower girl Kendra Waugh and maid of honour Rebecca Waugh. Clerk Wilson handled her duties like a seasoned veteran, and a scant 15 minutes later, the Youngs had signed the register and sealed their commitment with – a pair – of kisses.

“It’s been 27 years coming,” interjected niece Tara Waugh. “They’ve been together since before I was alive – it’s about time.”

“Been a long time coming,” John Dwayne added in agreement.

The Young’s aren’t against traditional ceremonies: the maid of honur and best man are engaged and all look forward to that event.

“She’ll have the big wedding,” said Barbara.

But for them, the civil ceremony had been ideally ‘short and sweet,’ said Eric, for a couple, who continued his spouse Barbara, didn’t want ‘a big thing.

“It was great – this is what we wanted.

“It’s about being married with your special people,” she added. “As long as you have each other, that’s what counts, today, tomorrow and always.”

The Youngs’ wedding had generated considerable interest among town staff said Deputy Clerk Amber Zimmer, who is also qualified to perform civil ceremonies.

“It was really nice,” she said. “The whole office was very excited, people kept peeking in.”

The town’s civil ceremony provides an alternative for those who don’t want a traditional church wedding, said Wilson. Council chambers are one option, but a second ceremony is scheduled for the Tillsonburg Regional Airport this Canada Day, and she and Zimmer will travel to backyards, parks, “Or any place people choose to get married.”

A civil ceremony package will be offered for $250, $300 if offsite or outside of regular business hours, potentially with a mileage charge, based on location. Information is available from the town’s customer service centre, and will also be handed out to those acquiring marriage licences.

“Quite an enjoyable experience, I quite enjoyed it,” Wilson summed up in conclusion. “Hopefully we’ll have many more.”



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