Massachusetts Justice of the Peace  - Stoddard H. Melhado -- Massachusetts Wedding Officiant
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FINDING THE PERFECT JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

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My Wedding Blog

A Wonerful Venue for a Wedding

Looking for an unusual, distinctive venue for your wedding? Check out the Methuen Memorial Music Hall,www.mmmh.org The building houses “The Great Organ”, once the largest organ in the country and is truly spectacular. The hall was designed by the English architect Henry Vaughan, who began the Washington Cathedral, and will impart dignity and grace to your ceremony.

I officiated at a wedding there in October. The acoustics are fabulous and the staff of volunteers does a wonderful job. Your guests are certain to be wowed by the surroundings and having an organist playing for them is special.

Rehearsals

I often get asked whether rehearsals are necessary. They are certainly not necessary for me. I am comfortable walking into any venue and performing a wedding.as is often the case for the small, intimate weddings where I meet the couple for the first time. Earlier this week I performed a lovely wedding at a beautiful horse barn -- no bridal party and with a simple, beautiful ceremony, no rehearsal was necessary.

But for larger weddings I love to have a rehearsal. The rehearsal allows us to accomplish many things, but most importantly, everyone involved is much calmer for the wedding as all know where to go and how to stand.

Harry -- Our newest greyhound

Recently, we have had a number of older greyhounds returned to the kennel. Dogs are returned for a variety of reasons – their owner may be sick or have passed away, may be moving and unable or unwilling to take the dog, life circumstances may have changed, or the owner may be unwilling to deal with the issue of having an older dog. Whatever the reason, I am glad that Greyhound Friends is there to provide a safe haven for these dogs.

Often these dogs are bewildered and depressed by their return to a kennel, but we give them extra love and care and try to get them readopted as soon as possible.

How Early To Book A JP

I hate to say no, but it seems that I am saying that a lot these days. “I’m sorry, but no, I am not available for that date.”

 I am often asked how soon one should book a Justice of the Peace. The simple answer is as soon as you have selected a date and determined a venue. Too often the JP is the last person booked, behind the photographer, DJ, caterer, and even the florist. Yet the person who is marrying you is keystone in your wedding ceremony. Don’t you want to have the person who is your first choice rather than the person you have to take?

Le Tour de France -- my ride

During a busy July when not doing weddings and meeting with prospective clients, I spend time watching the Tour de France on television. I have always been a fan of this three week long spectacle, but it has had an even more special meaning since my visit to the tour eight years ago.

In 2003 I traveled to France with four of my closest friends and our bikes. We were initially centered in Alps at the base of the famed L’ Alpe d’ Huez, one of the legendary climbs of the tour with its 21 switchbacks.

Location, location, location


To be successful, your wedding does not have to be in the swankiest, and most expensive, hotel in Boston. Thankfully, there are many beautiful venues throughout Massachusetts, some free, to hold your wedding. Following, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite non hotel venues, some well-known, some not, some geared for large ceremonies, some only for small, some expensive, some inexpensive or free. Most can be seen on my website on the FAQ page
 
The Fruitlands Museum, Harvard – gorgeous views of the Nashoba Valley

Being a Justice of the Peace

My friends often ask me, “Why do you do the JP stuff?” My answer is always the same,” What’s not to like.”

I explain that I meet many, many interesting people. I become involved with them at one of the happiest times of their lives and work hard to make certain that their wedding ceremony is special and memorable. I continue to use my skills as a former English teacher and counselor through writing and helping them deal with the stresses that sometimes, unfortunately, accompany wedding planning – more on that in a later post.

Weddings With Dogs

An increasing trend in weddings is  to include a beloved pet, especially a dog, in the marriage ceremony. Many people frown on this practice, but I embrace it. I spend my day surrounded by beautiful greyhounds at home and at the kennel -- as I write this two are sleeping at my feet -- and well know the importance that your dog plays in your life. Why not include him or her on your special day?

Some brides and grooms have walked with their dog to the place for the ceremony then handed him off to the best man.

What Goes on at a Meeting Part 2

The best part of a meeting for me comes at the end. That is when I'll find out about you and your relationship. I'll learn about the journey that has brought you to this exciting time in your lives. I'll try to find out what makes your relationship unique and learn some of the special stories that characterize your relationship. These stories could be about your how you met, your first date, an interesting proposal, or something funny or important that has happened to you together.

I particularly enjoy this aspect of being a Justice of the Peace, for it takes me back to my roots as a counselor, learning and understanding about people.

What Goes on at a Meeting?

I usually meet with couples at our home in Littleton. In warm weather we sit outside in the gazebo overlooking our waterfall and ponds, accompanied by a greyhound or two if you are comfortable with dogs; in cold weather we sit indoors in our living room.

I start by finding out your wedding plans. Normally I’ll know the date and location, but I’ll want to learn the specifics – the time, whether you are planning a rehearsal, the size and makeup of the wedding party, the anticipated number of guests, and anything special that you are planning such as the mentioning of important people in your lives who will not be there.
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