° empty

Say, ‘I do,’ with Mayor Butch Brown

Las Vegas may have Elvis, Niagara Falls may have its famous honeymoon suites. Natchez now has it newest wedding attraction — Mayor Butch Brown.

Beware Natchez citizens, a wedding chapel may be in your city’s future.

Mayor Butch Brown revealed Tuesday evening that he now has the power to preside over weddings. He joked about his newfound discovery before Tuesday’s board of aldermen finance meeting.

Actually as mayor, Brown has always had the authority to solemnize weddings. He just didn’t know about it until a couple of weeks ago.

Destination weddings are big business in this town. Tour houses like Dunleith, Monmouth and Stanton Hall provide perfect backdrops for those couples who dream of fairy tale weddings,

Local businesses, including florists, cake bakers and party suppliers have reaped the benefits of this growing industry. So too have hotels and restaurants that regularly fill up on the weekends of these big to-dos.

The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has helped bring in a steady stream of brides and grooms. But until now, the City of Natchez has not found a direct way to take advantage of this burgeoning industry.

Brown admits he hasn’t started making appointments and doesn’t have a line of happy couples waiting in City Hall.

He is not actively seeking to marry anyone, but my guess is that Brown has some kernel of an idea to capitalize on his newly discovered responsibilities. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown soon unveiled a new citywide “get married in Natchez” campaign.

Such a campaign could include building a wedding chapel in the demonstration gardens the mayor has already proposed for the old depot on Broadway.

What would be better than a wedding ceremony amid bluff gardens filled with beautiful flowers and bountiful produce overlooking the Mississippi River? Receptions in the new depot event space and demonstration kitchen would be extra. As a bonus the mayor could offer his services for an added charge.

One of the biggest highlights for the Natchez Tricentennial could be Brown officiating over the marriage of 300 couples on the Mississippi River bluff. Such an event could attract national attention.

Given Brown’s propensity for developing new ideas for Natchez, I wouldn’t be shocked if these or any other ideas were in the works.

Whether it is Brown’s push for a new environmental court or his most recent proposal to develop some type of healthcare facility in Duncan Park, Brown has a knack not only for finding solutions to problems but also for creating new programs and initiatives that work to the city’s advantage.

In doing so, Brown has also worked to bring disparate groups together to work towards a common initiative. With Alcorn State University and the Mississippi State Extension Service, Brown has found a way to revive an old depot. His newly proposed health care facility will seek to bring together the city’s two hospitals and the Adams County Health Department.

With some prodding, Brown has convinced these organizations to say, “I do.” Others have yet to make it to the altar.

Come to think of it, Brown has been in the marriage business all along. A bluffside wedding chapel would only be another manifestation of the matchmaker.


Ben Hillyer is design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.