CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Township Mayor Curt Ritter didn't know it at the time, but he was filling in for a New Jersey Supreme Court Justice on Sunday when he performed his first marriage ceremony as mayor.
Justice Anne Patterson will preside on Thursday when Chatham Township residents - groom Brian Block and bride Leah Dorner - hold their second marriage ceremony at the Rock Island Lake Club in Sparta. The couple will honeymoon in Hawaii.
"Justice Patterson will be presiding over the ceremony on Thursday," Block said. "By a quirk in state law, supreme court justices can't legally marry people. So we got the legal part done first. It's a show ceremony (Thursday). Everyone else will think it's the real thing."
Block, an attorney, got to know Justice Patterson when he spent a year clerking for her. He is an associate at Mandelbaum Salsburg PC in Roseland. Dorner is an occupational therapist, who works for the Montclair Public Schools at the Developmental Learning Center.
Ritter drove back from a weekend at the jersey shore to perform the ceremony (see video below) in the gazebo next to the township municipal building and was accompanied by his 9-year-old daughter, Grace.
The couple brought immediate family members with them, including their ring bearer, niece Gianee Dorner, as well as their dog, Jett.
Jett was a little excited, but when the bride allowed him to lay down next to her during the ceremony, there was no barking, even when Ritter asked if anyone objected to the marriage.
"It's a great honor. It's privilege," Ritter said. "It's one of the great things about being mayor, when you're able to participate in these special events. It feels good to be part of their special day. I got to know them leading up to this and they're a great couple. I wish them all the best in their future lives together."
Mayor Ritter performs the ceremony wedding Brian Block and Leah Dorner on Sunday at the municipal building gazebo in the township