Young and in love, Jhonas Lopez and his bride, Jennifer Landaverde, weren’t going to let a coronavirus derail their plans to get married.
“We just found true love. We decided we wanted to be together forever,” said Lopez of the couple’s plans to get married in spite of ongoing health concerns spurred by the virus spreading in the local community and elsewhere.
They were among four couples who kept their already scheduled appointments with Christian Judge-Executive Steve Tribble in his “Chapel of Love.”
Tribble had wondered whether some of the couples might cancel, but all four showed up Monday afternoon at the chapel just adjacent to the judge’s office.
The judge-executive said they are among the last ceremonies he will perform for a while; he has another four or five to perform in the next few months and won’t schedule anymore until concerns over the virus have subsided, he said.
“I’m going to wait until we get some type of clearance saying, ‘OK, we’re back to normal business,’ ” Tribble said. “We have stopped taking any new weddings.”
Tribble said he officiated eight weddings last week. Most had three or four people in their parties, and none had more than eight people. Of those on Monday, one had 11, including the judge-executive.
Tribble said he doesn’t shake hands or have any physical contact with anyone.
The bride and groom stand “way back” from the judge, and documents are passed back and forth. Copies of marriage licenses are obtained through the back door of the Christian County Courthouse, again with little contact, he said.
“We’re just being very cautious in dealing with these people,” Tribble, 72, noted.
The judge said he has performed more than 11,100 marriage ceremonies in more than 26 years in office. In a given year, that’s about 500, or about 40 to 50 ceremonies each month, but the virus has put any new ceremonies on hold.
The remaining four or five have been “on the books for several weeks,” said Tribble, who noted that “we’re trying to be very fair” to those couples.
Lopez said the virus has also put a hold on the plans he and his new bride had for a honeymoon trip to Los Angeles. California — and Los Angeles — have been among the areas hardest hit with developing cases of the coronavirus.
“Hopefully, we can celebrate our marriage in the future,” said Lopez, noting that maybe they will get that trip to California later on when things calm down.
Lopez and Landaverde are Clarksville residents who found Tribble’s office in Hopkinsville at the recommendation of friends who got married in the chapel.
“We just had local friends tell us about it, that he did it really well,” Lopez said.
An Army soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, Lopez noted that he and Landaverde, who works in customer care for a home owners’ association in Clarksville, plan to carry on with their normal lives in the meantime.
Lopez, however, has some sage advice when it comes to marriage.
“If you find your girl, or if you find your boy, just do it,” he said.
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.