Valentine's Day

Dallas Judge Gives Free Weddings for Valentine's Day

More than two dozen couples said "I do" in Judge Martin Hoffman's 5th floor courtroom on Valentine's Day

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The 5th floor at the George Allen Courts Building downtown Dallas was packed with people waiting to see the judge. None of them were summoned there. They came by choice.

"Y'all here for a free wedding," a man asked at the door in front of the 68th District courtroom.

Judge Martin Hoffman officiated free wedding ceremonies for more than two dozen couples who came to say "I do."

"I tell people seeing a judge is a little like seeing a dentist," Hoffman said. "Most people don't want to see a judge, but today is kind of a happy day."

Hoffman repeated the ceremony every five to 10 minutes, some in English, some in Spanish. On the subject of love, Hoffman is not exactly an impartial judge.

"I was married a little over 27 years ago to the love of my life," Hoffman said about his wife, Heather. "This is my way to kind of give back."

Chris Dittmer and Megan McNeese planned to get married on Leap Year Day, then changed their minds. "About 15-minutes ago," the couple laughed. "What's the difference between now and two weeks from now?"

The difference was Valentine's Day weddings in Judge Hoffman's courtroom were free. "We'll always remember it now for sure," Dittmer said.

The couple came to court dressed in matching t-shirts that said "I love him" and "I love her," as well as matching beanies.

"Oh, that's cute," Judge Hoffman said as he read their shirts when they walked into the courtroom to get married. "By the power vested in me by the State of Texas, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride!"

"We complement each other very well. We work really well together. We talk everything out really well together," McNeese said. "We just make a good team."

"Definitely feeling a little bit more like it's real," Dittmer said and he and his new bride walked hand-in-hand down the courthouse hallway.

When asked if he had any advice for a happy marriage, Judge Hoffman said, "It's to always be willing to forgive and forget."

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