County offering Webcast I-dos

Couples exchanging wedding vows for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, now can do them nearer and farther.

The Wise County Circuit Court in Norton, Va., is offering Webcast wedding ceremonies for friends and family to witness online.

The idea, Circuit Court Clerk Jack Kennedy Jr. said, came "out of the blue" as a way to offset the court's $3,000 to $5,000 annual cost of live audio and video streaming of its civil and criminal arraignment hearings (www.courtbar.org/courtcam.htm).

The cost of getting hitched online is $150 — $100 to cover the use of the hardware, $30 for the civil ceremony, and $20 for a VHS tape. For $175, couples also can buy a marriage Web page, which includes six months of free hosting.

The system includes five cameras, eight microphones and a Digital Subscriber Line connection.

The online marriage service (www.willyoumarrymeonline.com) started about two weeks ago, but no one has taken the plunge yet. However, there have been "quite a number of hits on the Web site," Kennedy said.

Couples must have a Virginia marriage license prior to the courtroom ceremony. The Webcast can only be performed at agreed-upon designated times on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays and not during regular court proceedings. Viewers must download Microsoft Corp.'s Media Player 7 to watch and hear the ceremony.

Kennedy said the circuit court issues about 600 marriage licenses a year. Wise County is located in southwestern Virginia near the Kentucky border.

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