County marries Webcasts to weddings

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 to $100 to cover the use

of the hardware, $30 for the civil ceremony and $20 for a VHS tape. For

$175, couples can also 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 in

September, but no one has taken the plunge as of press time. 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 Micro-soft Corp.'s Media Player 7 to watch and hear

the ceremony.

Kennedy said the court issues about 600 marriage licenses a year.

Wise County is located in southwestern Virginia near the Kentucky border.

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