Saturday weddings at Cook County suburban courthouses ending
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org December 29, 2011 8:08PM
The Cook County Building..Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Updated: January 31, 2012 8:27AM
Closing Cook County’s suburban courthouses on the weekends won’t just affect those who have a run-in with the law.
It also means hundreds of couples wanting to say “I do” before a judge in a Saturday courthouse ceremony will have to head to downtown Chicago.
In the coming weeks and months, marriage and civil union ceremonies will no longer be performed at the Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood and Bridgeview courthouses on weekends. Those facilities will soon close Saturdays and Sundays as a result of budget cuts, according to Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans.
That means Cook County couples looking to get hitched in front of a judge on a Saturday would likely have to head to the downtown County Building at 119 W. Randolph, where ceremonies are performed on a first-come, first-served basis for a $10 fee on the building’s lower level.
Also, there are one-Saturday-a-month wedding ceremonies performed by judges at the Chicago Cultural Center.
If those options don’t work for couples, they can get married or join in a civil union at the suburban courthouses during the week, Evans’ office said. That includes the Markham courthouse, which doesn’t offer Saturday ceremonies.
Weekend weddings at the suburban courthouses represent just a tiny fraction of marriages in the county — but they did offer a more convenient venue for the county’s suburban residents.
Of the 26,964 marriage licenses issued in Cook County in 2010, only about eight ceremonies were held at each courthouse every Saturday, according to Evans’ office.
The phased-in weekend closings of courthouses will happen in the weeks and months to come, beginning with the Bridgeview courthouse Jan. 7.
The closings mean anyone arrested and charged in the county over the weekend — no matter where — will be shuttled to Chicago’s 26th and California criminal courthouse Saturdays and Sundays for a bond hearing in front of a judge.
The move will save an estimated $1.9 million in 2012, according to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s staff. That includes slashing overtime for sheriff’s deputies and saving on utility costs at the facilities.
In the Skokie Courthouse, weekend weddings were part of a package deal for the judge on duty there. The judge already had to be there to set bond amounts for recent arrestees, so it made sense to hold civil unions and weddings there, too, said Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer, presiding judge at the Skokie Courthouse.
Evans sent out a memo earlier this month announcing the weekend suburban courthouse closings. Officials at the Skokie Courthouse have already stopped scheduling Saturday marriage and civil union ceremonies beyond Jan. 7, the judge said.