NH Weddings: 8 questions with a Justice of the Peace
Please enjoy our latest interview with Kim Steward, Justice of the Peace.
1. How long have you been a Justice of the Peace and how/why did you become one?
I was a Notary Public as part of my job. I attended a friend’s wedding in the White Mountains and they had to search for a JP who was willing to hike into the back country. I remember wishing I could have done that for them, and soon after, a couple who worked at the AMC asked me to become a JP and marry them. I became commissioned in 2001 and once I was established, I decided that my niche would be weddings in unusual places around NH.
2. What is the difference between a Notary Public and a Justice of the Peace?
Both are appointed by state governments and share similar responsibilities: Acknowledgements, oaths, affirmations, warrants, depositions, and witnessing signatures. The difference is that a JP may also perform marriage ceremonies.
3. How many weddings have you performed?
As of May 2013, I have performed 430 wedding ceremonies and hope to finish this year around 500.
4. What are some of the most interesting locations or ceremonies you’ve encountered?
Because of my experience, especially with the AMC , places that might seem odd or exciting to others, are actually very normal parts of my life: The summit of Mount Washington, Tuckerman Ravine, any AMC hut , any waterfall or mountain top throughout the White Mountains, etc. The most memorable wedding took place on the shoulder of Mount Washington though. A bagpipe player and I hiked down from the summit to do a wedding at Lakes-of-the-Clouds Hut . Right after the wedding, he and I began to hike back to the summit but we were caught in a lightning storm. By the time we managed to reach the summit and drive back down to the valley, we discovered the gate at the bottom of the road would not open because the power was out in the area. After all that, we were stuck on the other side of a gate!
Other interesting spots include having to take a boat to an island on Lake Winnipesaukee and then take a small raft across an inlet to another island to do the ceremony at sunset. I also did a ceremony at Sandy Island Camp on Lake Winnipesaukee, which happened to be a family camp my grandparents had managed for two decades. I often perform ceremonies at inns and B&B’s around the region and many, including those taking place in winter time, will take place outdoors. Locations such as the Stonehurst Manor have great views of Mt. Washington as a backdrop for the ceremony, leaving the couple with amazing photographs of their special day. I also recommend the laid back nature of a weekday wedding at places like Cathedral Ledge or near the banks of the Saco River, both nearby to my work place.
5. What was your favorite ceremony that you performed?
I can’t say that I can pick just one, as so many have been wonderful.
6. What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Connecting with the couples beyond the business transaction and then staying in touch or visiting them later. I also see people at their happiest.
7. How have you grown your business?
My business took off a few years ago largely due to finally having a website www.kimthejp.com that worked for me as well as a downturn in the economy. Many couples chose to do smaller, more intimate ceremonies in an outdoor setting with just a few guests. Professional associations such as www.findajp.com , www.nhjpa.com , and Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce have been helpful as well as relationships with local hospitality businesses.
8. Are couples free to choose their own vows, etc?
Absolutely! I’m here to provide as much or as little help as desired/needed for the ceremony and they can do just about anything they want. I have samples and helpful hints at www.kimthejp.com for couples to get started.
Call Stonehurst Manor now to take the first step toward getting married with views overlooking Mount Washington. We promise a live person will answer and be delighted to talk to you about your plans. We look forward to seeing you soon!
In the meantime, be sure to download our FREE NH Wedding Planning Guide!