- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

IUKA, Miss. (AP) - Couples will soon have the opportunity to marry or renew their wedding vows inside the historic Old Tishomingo County Courthouse Museum - the same site where thousands said “I do” more than 50 years ago.

The Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical Society will host the event at the museum during the 27th annual Heritage Day Festival on Saturday.

“Couples who wish to celebrate their marriage at a historic landmark, can do so in style at one of Tishomingo County’s oldest buildings,” said society president Cindy Nelson. “The building has already seen so many weddings, we thought it would be nice to offer the opportunity again.”

During the 1940s-1960s, Iuka was considered the Marriage Capital of the South.

Archival documents indicate that more than 45,000 marriage licenses were issued when couples bought their $2 marriage licenses in the circuit clerk’s office and were married in the tax assessor’s office as well as in numerous other areas throughout the courthouse.

“During this time, surrounding states had a three-day waiting period for a marriage license,” said Nelson. “Mississippi had no such law, so people from Alabama and Tennessee would drive to Iuka to be married in the courthouse.”

The marriage capital was recently featured in the song “Iuka” by the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, country group, The Secret Sisters.

The society held a similar marriage event in 2005 where more than 30 couples were married or had vows renewed inside the former courthouse.

“We have a lot of tourists stop by telling us old marriage stories,” said Nelson. “Some people who were once married at the courthouse still come to Iuka on their wedding anniversary.”

Lloyd and Shirley McCarley, of Decatur, Alabama, recently returned for a visit, said Nelson.

The McCarleys were married at the courthouse on Sept. 6, 1953.

“They traveled to Iuka to celebrate their 60th anniversary,” Nelson said. “It was their first visit to Iuka since their wedding day.”

The society plans to offer private ceremonies Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and at 3 p.m. until with up to 125 guests permitted per ceremony.

The cost is $100 per couple and includes the use of a minister.

A mass renewal of vows will take place at 2 p.m. with a minister provided and up to 15 guests permitted for a fee of $50 per couple.

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