A dozen active military members and their partners recited their wedding vows on the steps of the Bexar County courthouse Friday as County Clerk Lucy Adame-Clark officiated.

Adame-Clark regularly performs mass wedding ceremonies on Valentine’s Day, but Friday marked the first time she dedicated special, free ceremonies to military personnel. The 2 p.m. ceremony was a casual affair, with most military members wearing civilian clothes instead of uniforms.

“The least we can do for our military men and women is to honor and be thankful for their unselfish deeds,” Adame-Clark told the couples at the first of two ceremonies Friday afternoon. “Your Bexar County Clerk’s Office is proud to announce our U.S. Armed Forces military wedding event, the first of many to come to serve those who serve our country.”

Adame-Clark chose the date near the Fourth of July to thank  military members and their families for their sacrifices for the country. Adame-Clark’s father served in the Marines and said her family saw firsthand what a military family must sacrifice to serve.

“It takes a lot for a serviceman or woman to not only sacrifice themselves, but their loved ones,” Adame-Clark said. “I think it’s time to give back to the military community and give them the services they deserve.”

While the ceremonies were performed free of charge, Adame-Clark accepted donations, with the proceeds going to the Back-To-School Brigade program for military families.

Among the military couples, Abby and Brianna Doucette held each other close as the county clerk married them in front of several friends and family. Brianna enlisted in the U.S. Navy in October, graduated from boot camp in April, and is in vocational school. With school starting up again, they wanted to get married quickly.

“I think it’s nice that we don’t have to wait 72 hours [for the license],” she said. “The timing really just fit with my schedule. It means a lot to me that we could get married today.”

After the ceremony, the newly married couples lined up to get their licenses signed by Adame-Clark and take them to the records department. The couples will have to wait for a copy of their license so they can apply for name changes and military benefits.

Liam Deal and April Gardner were first in line to receive a signature for their marriage license. Gardner serves in the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, but Deal lives in Dallas. They had not planned to get married that day but were at the courthouse Friday morning just to file for a marriage license when they found out about the ceremonies being performed Friday afternoon. Gardner was grateful for the opportunity to stand with her fellow service members for such a significant moment in her life.

“The ceremony was so thoughtful,” Gardner said. “It was breathtaking. I really appreciated it. It felt like I was a part of a big family.”

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Laura Morales

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.