Sidelines: Cathy Savino, JP



(l-r) Bride Jen Mielec, JP Cathy Savino, groom Tony Mielec before Naku the whale at Mystic Aquarium.

As the Senior Manager of ESPN’s International Programming group, Cathy Savino spent the last week in May conducting business at the Indianapolis 500.

Since returning to Bristol from the Brickyard, Savino has been balancing her work duties with her calling as a Justice Of The Peace, or JP.

For 15 years, Savino has overseen an estimated 300 weddings and civil unions — including three this past week.

June might be a traditional month for brides but “I’m booked every weekend from May to mid-October,” said Savino, who helps manage motor sports and X Games programming for ESPN International, among other things.

“I got a call from someone who said, ‘I’d like to be married Memorial Day weekend.’ Well, I’m just coming back from the Indy 500. So I say, “How about June 1?'”

On June 2, Savino married a couple in Bristol’s Rockwell Park.

Overseeing weddings “is a lot of fun, something I totally enjoy doing. I’m a people person,” said Savino, who has seen her share of unusual services.

“I’ve had dogs as ring-bearers, grooms getting upset but not the brides — the opposite of what you’d expect,” she said, though she admits to encountering a few “bridezillas.”

But one recent wedding was unique because it boasted eight ring-bearers.

“The oldest 7 years old, the youngest 2 years old. This is what they wanted. I say, ‘It’s all about you,'” Savino said.

Some couples turn to JPs when they don’t want to be married in a conventional church, or they want to marry on a Sunday, or for several other reasons, Savino said.

In Connecticut, JPs are selected during the year of the Presidential election. They serve four-year terms and must earn reappointment to continue in that capacity.

Most are political appointments along Republican or Democratic lines. Bristol native Savino, an Independent, applied via the town clerk’s office.

Besides conducting weddings and civil unions, a JP may take depositions and give oaths as recognized by state law. In 2004, Savino had the honor of swearing in her father as a Bristol city councilman.

“There’s a lot of competition [to be a JP],” said Savino, a 19-year ESPN employee who conducts many ceremonies at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa in Old Saybrook, Conn.

“Many JPs will show up and say, ‘This is what it is, this is what I’m going to do.’ I try to build a ceremony with a couple. I’m there for them from start to finish.”

Savino also has conducted weddings and civil unions in backyards, boats and beaches.

About a year ago at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., Savino presided over the wedding of Jen and Tony Mielec (pictured above). Among the attendees was Naku, a 1,400-pound, 30-year-old Beluga whale.

“Cathy did an amazing job with the whole ceremony. We could not be happier with her work and we still keep in touch, almost a year later,” Jen Mielec said in an e-mail.

The Mielecs will celebrate their first anniversary June 19.

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