Judge Derek Mosley officiated at
the wedding of Bryan and Jacquie LaChapelle.
During the week,
Judge Derek Mosley is on the Milwaukee Municipal Court bench,
and his docket is full: drug cases, retail theft, driving while
intoxicated, violations of building and zoning codes, and
disputed parking tickets. “I’m the guy you want to talk to if
you want to know where not to eat, park or drive,” he says.
He also may be the
guy you want to talk to about love and commitment, because during
the past 13 years, Mosley has presided over more than 100 weddings.
He hasn’t kept an exact count, but guesses that he averages about 25
to 40 per year.
His first wedding
was for the brother of a friend: “I had just become a judge and it
was at their house,” he recalls. “I was really nervous because I’d
never done it. But I just fell in love with it after that.”
Many of his early
weddings were bittersweet, because the ceremonies were for soldiers
on their way to war zones. “People were being deployed to
Afghanistan and Iraq. They’re happy they’re being married, but the
guy’s shipping out,” Mosley says.
The best man hands
Mosley the rings.
courtroom brings him into contact with a lot of police officers,
Mosley says in the early days, “I was doing weddings for a lot
of cops. They come in every day, and I wasn’t charging them.
Word gets out fast when you don’t charge for weddings, and
suddenly I was completely booked, so I had to alter that a
He’s not above
bartering, however. Mosley presided at the wedding of a man who
works at a local meat market and was happy to be compensated with
pork chops and chicken.
wedding audience was a somewhat loud group of 10,000 at Summerfest.
A couple had met at Summerfest during the set of a particular band,
and the band was again booked for the music festival in 2011. The
couple talked to the band about their dream to be married on stage,
Mosley says, and the band agreed to stop their set for the ceremony.
“Of course, half
the crowd was screaming, ‘Don’t do it,’ but it was fun,” Mosley
marries couples in the courthouse, but he also enjoys doing weddings
at some of the city’s “fantastic venues.” Tops on his list are Villa
Terrace — “absolutely gorgeous” — the Milwaukee Art Museum and the
Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes, except for the Arid Dome. The
black robe he wears for the ceremony gets too warm in that desert
Mosley and his
wife were married on the stage of Vogel Hall at the Marcus Center
for the Performing Arts, another of his favorite wedding spots. He
performs weddings all over the state, and has also married couples
in Iowa and Colorado.
Through the years
Mosley has noticed a few trends emerge. “Friday weddings are huge
now,” he notes, and couples who have been married for years are
renewing their vows in front of family and friends. “It’s just a
cross-section of people and it’s interesting,” he says. “The
beautiful part about weddings is that different cultures do things
Mosley has a word
of caution for those who are about to married: Be sure to allow for
the waiting period when you get your marriage license.
“Some people wait
’til the last minute so they can’t get the license in time. You have
a whole church full of people, so we do the ceremony,” he says, but
it’s actually just a show. The legal ceremony takes place in his
chambers after the couple has the license in hand.
“The only advice I
give is basically I tell everybody that marriage is a relationship
where one is always right,” Mosley says, “and the other one is the