Login | April 09, 2020

Akron Municipal Court takes the leap with Perkins Stone Mansion

Akron Municipal Court Judge Annalisa S. Williams performs a civil Leap Day wedding ceremony Feb. 29 at Perkins Stone Mansion in Akron. The couple, Akron residents Tiphany and Stanley Watts, was the first ever marriage performed at the historic property. (Photo by Tracey Blair/Legal News).

Legal News Reporter

Published: March 13, 2020

Akron Municipal Court Judge Annalisa Stubbs Williams adjusts her lipstick and accessorizes her black robe with a festive green necklace and frog broach to mark the occasion.
A line of guests begin arriving at the historic Perkins Stone Mansion in Akron on a cold but sunny Saturday morning. Although the Greek Revival-style mansion – named after Akron’s founding family - is normally closed to visitors January through March, the Summit County Historical Society granted the court’s request to open it on Feb. 29, 2020 – Leap Day.
Amid a sea of vintage wedding dresses, the “Bridal Chorus” plays on Stella, the Historical Society’s name for the mansion’s Victorian era music box.
Williams is ready to marry the first of seven couples.
“I have performed close to a thousand weddings, but this is my first opportunity to do Leap Year,” the judge said before the ceremony. “I’m pretty excited about it, especially to be able to do it at the Perkins Mansion.”
For several years, the court has held off-site weddings at the Akron Civic Theatre on Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
But this was the first year the court traveled to the mansion in honor of Leap Day. The mansion will host the court again March 17 for another first – St. Patrick’s Day weddings.
Historical Society President and CEO Leianne Neff Heppler said she thinks the Leap Day experience was the start of a great new partnership.
“I’m going on my 21st year here, and we’ve never had a wedding in the house until today,” she said. “Akron Municipal Court approached us. They said, `We have a unique opportunity. How do you feel about a Leap Day wedding?’ The Board thought, `What a great way to show off the house and our vintage wedding dresses.’ We’re 96 years old, and some people still say, `We’ve never heard of you.’ “
Nicole Hagy, the court’s community outreach and grants coordinator, said the offsite wedding program is a positive way to meet the needs of the community.
“We’ve had a tremendous response from couples,” she said. “The Perkins Stone Mansion is a beautiful historical venue. We thought it was a great fit for Leap Day and St. Patrick’s Day, and they’ve gone above and beyond to host us. Some of the couples who called us said they had been to the house before and it was special to them. We are hoping this continues as a tradition.”
Hagy added that many of the couples cannot believe how easy – and inexpensive – the off-site wedding process is.
The cost to rent the facilities are $25 for those in the court’s jurisdiction and $40 for those residing outside of Akron, Fairlawn, Bath, Richfield, Springfield Township, Lakemore and the Summit County portion of Mogadore.
Akron residents Tiphany and Stanley Watts are proud to be the very first couple married at Perkins Stone Mansion.
“It was the greatest day of our lives,” Stanley said after the short ceremony. “We wanted to get married on Leap Day because it fits us as a couple – the unexpected.”
Another happy Leap Day couple was Geoff and Carolyn Chunyo.
Geoff, of Lakewood, met his new bride, from Peninsula, last April in a rowing league. The two are both veterans as well – Geoff of the Marine Corp. and National Guard – and Carolyn of the U.S. Army.
Geoff admits Leap Day was not a conscious choice, but a necessity.
“We wanted to get married when everyone was available, so that was this weekend, and Friday was full,” he said.
Geoff said he has encountered some good-natured ribbing from people saying he’s lucky because he only has to worry about his anniversary every four years.
He doesn’t see it that way though.
“Less anniversaries means more pressure because it’s only once every four years,” he said. “You can’t just run in the corner store to grab some flowers when you get married on Leap Day, so there’s a lot more pressure.”