Dayton couple treated to impromptu wedding celebration at Liberty County courthouse

Jacob Eldridge and Moerani Maire Eldridge were married Friday, Oct. 26, in a courthouse ceremony performed by County Judge Jay Knight. They were surprised afterward to be invited to a fall festival under way at the courthouse where county employees helped the couple celebrate their nuptials.

Many couples dream of a big wedding surrounded by family and friends, but for a Dayton couple, Moerani Maire, 21, and Jacob Eldridge, 26, a courthouse ceremony followed by a reception with Liberty County employees created memories they will never forget.

The couple, who met while attending San Jacinto College, planned to be married in a few months at a beautiful, rustic venue in Crosby. Jacob, an engineering student in his senior year at Lamar, said those plans were set aside when Moerani, nicknamed Moe, lost her NCAA scholarship for volleyball at Lamar University due to an error in reporting, forcing the couple to pay her tuition and expenses.

“We had this venue in Crosby, but they wanted $5,000-$7,000 down,” Jacob said. “Then we had some crazy curveballs with her NCAA scholarship.”

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Jacob said they pondered the idea of postponing their wedding a few years while they finished college.

“Moe had family from Tahiti and France coming in, and my family members from Mexico were going to fly in for the wedding. We just pushed it back and said, ‘Let’s get married next week,'” Jacob said.

With the assistance of Dede Taylor, court coordinator for Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, Jacob and Moe planned a simple wedding ceremony in the County Court at Law with Knight officiating.

“On the day they came in our office, they had their marriage license and were telling me they had run into some complications with their wedding venue. As we talked about it more, I told them we were going to be having an Octoberfest in the courthouse [on the day they wanted to be married]. Jacob got all excited about it,” Taylor said.

Taylor was with the couple’s family members as Knight officiated the ceremony.

“After the Judge pronounced them man and wife, they did the cutest little handshake that lasted like a minute. Then he twirled her around, laid her back and kissed her,” she said.

Jacob explained that the handshake custom started while they were friends in college.

“We were best friends for like a year before we even started dating. We always used to do some crazy elaborate handshake. Her athletic teams did that, too,” he said. “We’ve always done the handshake, so we wanted to do it for the wedding.”

Jacob Eldridge and Moerani Maire Eldridge take their first dance as husband and wife outside the district clerk’s office in the Liberty County Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 26.

After the ceremony, Taylor invited the couple and their family members to the first floor of the courthouse where District Clerk Donna Brown and her staff had organized a Fall Festival for county employees. Taylor tipped off Brown that the couple was on their way downstairs, so they arrived to applause and greetings of congratulations.

The Fall Festival theme was a cruise ship, so the hallway around the district clerk’s office was decorated with a mock ship, porthole windows and aquatic plants. While courthouse employees watched, the couple danced to “Perfect,” an Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé song they had planned to use in their original wedding plans.

Jacob said they had a lot of fun posing for photos with the mock ship and getting to know courthouse employees like Taylor. The friendly atmosphere of Liberty County and its residents is why the couple makes their home in Dayton.

“We like the country and how close and friendly people here can be. We plan on staying here and buying a house,” he said. “This place, the courthouse, will be here forever, so we just wanted to make some memories here.”

And based on his account of their wedding, that’s exactly what they did.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

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