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Valentines Day weddings keep probate court busy
Gary Galavitz kisses his bride, Lauren, after being married by Hall County Probate Judge Patty Walters Laine. - photo by Tom Reed

Flowery Branch residents Gary Galavitz and Lauren Schultz don’t know what the future will bring, but they promised to face it together.

Galavitz has a cancer scan in three months. He has been fighting thymus cancer, and Schultz helped nurse him back to health as they waited for him to get healthy enough to get married and go on his honeymoon. Probate Judge Patty Walters Laine performed their ceremony, along with about nine other weddings, on Valentine’s Day.

“Every time we tried to plan something, I felt like I had to go back and have more treatments or go back and go to the doctor,” Galavitz said. “I said we need to do something quickly.”

Laine restarted weddings at the county courthouse in January after they had been discontinued for some years. She said she didn’t know why. The typical schedule for weddings is Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. To get married, participants must have a marriage license, which is issued by the probate court.

“I felt like this was a service that our court could offer to the people of the county and it was important to me that people can get married for free locally and not drive outside the county,” she said.

Despite saying that they picked the date not realizing it was Valentine’s Day, the couple weaved red into their color theme. Galavitz was dressed in a black suit, and Schultz wore a white cocktail dress with red shoes and carried a bouquet of red and white flowers. She teared up as the two recited their vows in the presence of their friends and families. Probate court staff, including Laine, who dressed in a red robe, also wore red.

The weddings were scheduled for every half hour, starting at 10 a.m.

“It’s been a good day,” Laine said. “It’s run smoothly.”

The couple have known each other for 13 years and have dated for the past five. Galavitz recently had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his chest and went through treatments. Finally, his doctor gave the OK. After the ceremony, the next stop for the newlyweds was the airport to catch a flight to Miami. They have booked a trip to St. Martin and St. Thomas.

Probate court issues marriage and weapons carry licenses as well as handling estates and guardianship and conservatorship issues.