In The Locker Room with Devin Wilkins, Football Player, Ordained Minister

West Philadelphia native Devin “Dev” Wilkins is a senior Philosophy major at Oberlin College and a defensive back on the varsity football team. However, when he’s home in Philadelphia over the summer, Wilkins works as an ordained minister who legally marries couples at Philadelphia City Hall. After being introduced to the job through his mother’s friend, Wilkins has seen people from all walks of life pass through City Hall with one thing in common: They are in love, and wish to make it legal. Regardless of whether they are in love for the long-term or not, Wilkins is the person who first brings them into the world of matrimony.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about yourself.

I’m a senior Philosophy major from West Philadelphia. Right now, I’m helping out with “spring ball,” which is basically 10 [football] practices in the springtime. It’s without pads but like regular practices, with as much [physical] contact as the players can take.

As a senior, your time is almost up at Oberlin. Do you have any plans for after graduation?

I definitely want to still be involved in football somehow, maybe with coaching or in any way that I can. That’s the plan right now. I’ve been applying everywhere. Right now, I wouldn’t consider [coming back to Oberlin], but a job is a job. I’ll always consider a job. I’ve grown comfortable living around the college football schedule. You know, having that huge gap of time between seasons and having nothing to do.

So, I’ve heard that you have a pretty unconventional summer job. Could you talk a bit about that?

I get people married at City Hall in Philadelphia. My mom got married there and one of her friends was her [minister], so she suggested the job to me. I am an ordained minister in Pennsylvania, so people come in and I fill out their information on the computer and then they pick their wedding date. You can’t get married the day you come in, which kind of sucks. You have to come in, get your certificate printed and filled out, and then you have to come back a week later to get married.

So, no shotgun weddings?

No shotgun weddings. It’s not illegal, but because it’s City Hall, you don’t really want to do a shotgun wedding there. I don’t know why, but getting married at City Hall in Philly is a big deal.

Do you have any ridiculous stories from your job?

I got [Philadelphia Eagles quarterback] Carson Wentz married, I got [former Eagles and current San Francisco 49ers wide receiver] Jordan Matthews married, and my coworker just got [Los Angeles Angels center fielder] Mike Trout married. If you’re getting married in Philadelphia, you have to go to City Hall. I don’t know why, but City Hall might be the only place in the county where people can get their marriage certificate. You can’t be legally married at other courthouses in the county. Oh, and I don’t know if you want this on the record, but when my boss was around my age, he said he snorted a pile of cocaine with [former New York Giants linebacker] Lawrence Taylor when he got him married to one of his wives.

Wow. I don’t know if I would want my future spouse to be on drugs during our wedding.

Yeah, I really don’t know how that all went down, but it’s Lawrence Taylor, so I feel like he probably gets to do whatever he wants.

Do you have a speech that you go through when you marry these people?

Yeah, it’s literally written right on the wall. So, I read it off and I ask [the couple] the basic questions. Obviously, once you get all their information, I read a short verse from the Bible, then they exchange their vows, and then they’re married. And then we snap a picture. I only wear a collared shirt and slacks, but I have to put this robe on to get people married. So, they take a picture of me in a robe, and then I have to guide the people out.

Is this a particularly emotional job? I mean, it’s a job that is essentially reliant on human emotions.

The first summer going into junior year, I admit I shed a couple tears. But this past summer was less emotional.

You’ve married so many people. Does all of that work around marriage make you feel differently about marriage in general? Is it more exciting or disillusioning?

I guess I’ve never really thought about that, to be honest. I would say that it makes me take marriage more seriously. There have been people who have gotten married twice in one year. I know this dude who got married two summers ago, and then got married to a different person this past summer. Just seeing a lot of the stress that people are under, too. A lot of people wonder, “Oh, I don’t know if I really want to do this now,” all of the sudden when they’re in City Hall. This one guy came in this past summer, and he was sitting with his soon- to-be wife. There were four couples ahead of them, then three couples, and then two couples, and then she just got up and left. She just left. She was gone. So, yeah, I take marriage pretty seriously now after seeing that. It’s not something you should rush, or you shouldn’t be like, “Oh, we’re in love so let’s just get married.” For me, I have to feel more [secure] about getting married.

Do you have to take care of the people who are left at the altar?

I’ve been the minister for three people left at the altar. Yes, you do have to hold their hand and let them cry on your shoulder a little bit.

Wow, that’s a truly unique summer job you have. For the rest of the year, though, you’re a football player. What are you going to miss most about playing football at Oberlin when you graduate?

Definitely my teammates. I would say that’s a unique relationship I’ve had, especially being up at six in the morning with all the same people most of the year. Obviously, not everyone is going to be best friends, but it’s always different than other relationships at Oberlin. Hanging out with my teammates is something I’m going to miss the most.

What are you going to miss about Oberlin, aside from football?

I guess generally being in college is always cool. [In the real world] you have the restrictions of a job. Honestly, at the end of the day, the college experience of just going to class everyday and then doing homework is really what I’m going to miss – especially when I’m home in the summer, and I’m in my office working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’ll miss the freedom of college.