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Cuts To Suburban Courthouse Hours Mean No More Weekend Weddings

File Photo Of A Gold And Diamond Wedding Band. (David Livingston/Getty Images)

File Photo Of A Gold And Diamond Wedding Band. (David Livingston/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Because the suburban Cook County courthouses will be closed on weekends starting next year, there will soon be five fewer options for wedding or civil union ceremonies.

The office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced this week that the courthouses in Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham will be closed on weekends. The process will begin Jan. 7th at the Bridgeview courthouse, and the rest of the courthouses will begin closing on weekends over the next two to three months.

From now on, getting married before a judge will require a visit downtown to Cook County Marriage Court, at 119 W. Randolph St. on the lower level of the City Hall-County Building complex. Ceremonies there are performed on a first-come, first-served basis for a $10 fee.

One Saturday a month, wedding ceremonies are also performed by judges at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.

If those options don’t work for couples, they can get married or join in a civil union at the suburban courthouses during the week, Evans’ office said. That includes the Markham courthouse, which has not offered Saturday ceremonies in the past either.

Weekend weddings at the suburban courthouses represent just a tiny fraction of marriages in the county — but they did offer a more convenient venue for the county’s suburban residents.

Of the 26,964 marriage licenses issued in Cook County in 2010, only about eight ceremonies were held at each courthouse every Saturday, according to Evans’ office.

The phased-in weekend closings of courthouses will happen in the weeks and months to come, beginning with the Bridgeview courthouse Jan. 7.

The closing also means there will be no more Saturday bond court calls at the five suburban courthouses. The only weekend bond court call will be Central Bond Court (Br. 1) at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California.

In the Skokie Courthouse, weekend weddings were part of a package deal for the judge on duty there. The judge already had to be there to set bond amounts for recent arrestees, so it made sense to hold civil unions and weddings there, too, said Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer, presiding judge at the Skokie Courthouse.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.