To wedding watchers, July 7, 2007, was a magical convergence. The calendar had aligned for a triple- seven jackpot on a summer Saturday. Even the weather was picture-perfect. This would be, everyone said, the luckiest day to tie the knot. Book vendors early, warned the magazines; we'll never forget our anniversary, cheered grooms. More than 38,000 couples created wedding Web pages on TheKnot.com (compared to the usual 12,000).
Marguerite Sexton, executive director of Journeys of the Heart, a nondenominational ministry service, reported that her officiants married off 17 couples that day, compared with the usual eight. "I saw this coming, when people were booking the day two years out," she says. "We had to turn some people away. People were still calling up to a few days prior."
The Inquirer's "Love" column was similarly bombarded with three times the usual number of brides eager to have their big day recorded in these pages. We chose our favorite four to share their stories:
Lachelle Nicole Jack & Kenneth Roger Vaughan Jr.
At 7 p.m. in Bethlehem Baptist Church in Blue Bell, with a reception for 150 guests at Jack's parents' home in Ambler.
At the beginning of the 2004 school year at Welsh Valley Middle School in Narberth, where they both work. In June 2005 Lachele, who teaches chorus and music, volunteered to help chaperone the seventh-grade field trip to Williamsburg, Va. Kenny, who teaches seventh-grade social studies, had already committed to attend. Their students had tried to play matchmaker all year, writing "Mrs. Vaughan" on Lachele's whiteboard. They also worked on Kenny: "Doesn't Miss Jack look nice today?" Coworkers placed them on the same bus for the six-hour ride. "Because Kenny was attractive," Lachele says, "I stereotyped him. The kids insisted, 'He's nice! You belong together!' " In August they went on a first date - no kids - to Old City's Swanky Bubbles.
On March 25, 2006, Kenny got down on one knee in the kitchen of his Northeast Philadelphia home. "It was everything I've ever wanted - very romantic," the bride says. She balks at overcomplicated proposals. "I didn't want him hang-gliding or drowning himself."
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Lachele, 30, comes from Horsham, and Kenny, 33, is from Mount Airy. They live in Horsham.
The couple desired a summer anniversary, and Lachele wanted to get married on her birthday, July 14. But Kenny insisted that they have a separate day to celebrate. They chose 7/7 a year and a half out. "We started planning so early, so we had no issues with vendors," the groom says.
To "The Last Time," by Eric Benet.
Doing it their way
With help from planner Randi Martin of Always Fabulous Events, the couple transformed her parents' home and backyard pool area into a dreamy reception site with dueling dance floors. Twinkle lights sparkled in the trees and on the deck; orange linens covered tables accented with apricot- and apple-filled vases topped with flower balls. Poolside, the couple led a candle-lighting ceremony, passing out floating luminaries to guests, who paused for a moment of silence to remember loved ones with cancer, then placed their candles in the pool in tribute.
The groom, who was so worried about Lachele's tripping on her cathedral-length veil, was the one who tripped on the steps coming out of church.
"Focus on the bigger picture: your life together afterward. We could have gotten married on any day and it would have been special. We're going to have a wonderful marriage."
Seven days at Jumby Bay, Antigua. The newlyweds did a honeymoon registry through TheBigDay.com - picking out a snorkeling trip, a hike, massages, and breakfast in bed. Their room number? Bungalow 7.
Melinda Carol Richards & Paul Scott McCann
At St. John's Presbyterian Church in Devon, with a reception for 215 at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern.
In October 2000 at St. Joseph's University, through mutual friends (their roommates were dating). The friendship turned romantic by December, and they had a first date to Primavera Pizza Kitchen in Ardmore.
In August 2006 during a hike with their golden retriever Jack in Ridley Creek State Park. While skipping stones in the creek, Melinda paused in search of her next rock. That's when Paul told her he "had the perfect stone," and got down on one knee. They celebrated over dinner at the Chart House.
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Melinda, 25, of Drexel Hill, does business development at Meyer Designs in Ardmore. Paul, 26, of Elverson, is a systems analyst with Independence Blue Cross in King of Prussia. They live in Morgantown.
"Lucky Lynnie" (her childhood nickname) wanted to book the lucky day immediately. Coincidentally, the only date the Desmond had available was 7/7. "It was a random stroke of luck," Melinda says. Another couple had dropped out the day before.
"Making Memories of Us," by Keith Urban.
Doing it their way
The theme: "Melinda and Paul, Lucky in Love on 7/7/07." The details: lucky star-bordered save-the-dates, gold stars on the reception tables, accompanied by Pennsylvania Lottery Silver 7's scratch-off tickets, placed in envelopes covered in star stickers with a 2007 penny. The bride, in an alençon lace sheath by Amsale Blue Label, had seven attendants; there were also seven groomsmen. Melinda's toss bouquet had seven roses in it.
The ceremony was delayed 10 minutes when the flower girls' mother got lost on the way to church, and was pulled over and ticketed for speeding on Lancaster Avenue.
During the final song of the night (Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' "), Paul's wedding band flew off his finger. The DJ stopped the music and guests got on hands and knees for the hunt. The bride's aunt found the ring, on the carpet adjacent to the dance floor.
"No matter how much time you spend planning, things come up. Don't get caught up in the details. Make sure you enjoy the day."
The couple that's been together seven years spent seven days on the Riviera Maya.
Jessica Taylor Shaw & Nellie Marie Ivins
In a civil union, on the lawn of the Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa in Galloway, N.J. Father George Lucey of the St. Francis of Assisi Mission in West Orange, N.J., presided as 110 guests looked on. Lucey is a White Robed Benedictine, a "contemporary Catholic" group not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
In 2001, when Jessica, then an EMT, attended paramedic school. Nellie was one of her instructors. Friends first, after 9/11 they started going to the gym together and Nellie became Jessica's personal trainer. "I was naive at first," Jessica says. "I just thought I liked to be around her." When one of Jessica's friends hit on Nellie jokingly, "I was struck with insane jealousy. I said, 'Oh my God, I'm jealous. Oh my God, I'm gay.' " In January 2002, Nellie asked Jessica out for a meal at Steve & Cookie's by the Bay in Margate.
In December 2003, while Jessica was getting ready for a Christmas party they were cohosting. Nellie presented Jessica with a platinum and diamond ring and told her she wanted to spend the rest of her life with her. In 2004, they sealed their domestic partnership, signing documents regarding rights to inheritance and hospitalization. "We laugh every day," Jessica says. "Nellie's full of life. She lives at the speed of light. And she's got great hair."
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Jessica, 29, is from Egg Harbor City, N.J., and Nellie, 39, is from Marlton. Both are Atlantic County paramedics and live in Galloway.
"I've always wanted the big wedding," Jessica explains, and both were excited when civil unions became recognized in New Jersey this year. "It's never going to be 7/7/07 again. It has to be the luckiest day to get married. It will last forever." They booked the Seaview in February 2007, but had to call a few florists before they found one with an opening.
Doing it their way
"It was one big party from start to finish," says Jessica, who wore a deep-red Justin Alexander strapless ball gown with a corseted bodice and carried red and white roses. Nellie chose an ivory rhinestone-studded pantsuit. "We laughed through our vows," which they wrote themselves, the bride says, and "the entire audience gasped" when Father Lucey introduced himself as a Catholic priest.
Instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, the couple had four "best people," including Jessica's sister. Guests received scratch-off lottery tickets and a 2007 penny, in an envelope inscribed "Lucky in Love," and savored a strawberry shortcake wedding cake covered in red rose petals. "We danced the entire night," Jessica says.
Once on the dance floor, bride Jessica realized her corseted top was just not up to the challenge. With a bit of help, she fashioned makeshift satin straps from the dress' hanger loops.
"You will want to kill each other up until that day, but it's totally worth it."
Vegas, baby: six days at the Flamingo. How did their 7/7/07 luck play out? "We didn't hit until the last day," Jessica says.
Michelle Marie Bojarski & Evan Mitchell Jones Stanton
On the second-floor sundeck of the Grand Hotel in Cape May, with a reception for 95 guests in the fifth-floor ballroom.
At Australia's University of Wollongong in August 2002, during Michelle's semester abroad with Rowan University. They lived in the same dorm and were introduced by mutual friends. "I thought she was attractive," Evan says, "but she didn't show much interest in me at first." Michelle explains: "I didn't want to be with an Australian. It would be so difficult to keep a relationship going." They had a first date at a local bar a few weeks later. "He won me over," she says, and the couple made their long-distance relationship work, fitting in extended visits whenever possible.
Dec. 1, 2006, at Michelle's house. Dressing for a Christmas party, Michelle was complaining that she had no jewelry to wear. Evan had just purchased an engagement ring. Issue solved, as the Aussie got down on one knee in the bedroom.
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Michelle, 26, of Washington Township, is with American Workcare in Glassboro. Evan, 25, of Kurrajong, Australia, is a marine biologist. They live in Mullica Hill.
"Once we heard the day," the groom says, "we wanted it." As luck would have it, another American/Australian couple they know were tying the knot the following week in New Hampshire. Some guests attended both weddings, making the long journey worth their while. Michelle and Evan phoned numerous venues in search of a 7/7/07 opening, before settling on the Grand Hotel, the bride says. Unfortunately, the local horse-and-carriages were all booked. "You'll never forget your wedding day," she says of the date. "It was a lucky thing, too, going halfway around the world to find your husband."
"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," by Bryan Adams.
Doing it their way
The beach lovers sent out flip-flop save-the-dates, which Evan crafted out of cardboard and ribbon inscribed "Pack your things, bring your mate, but please remember to save the date." The bride's aunt blew a large conch-shell horn to announce the start of the ceremony. The Australian flag flapped in the breeze as aqua-clad bridesmaids and tan-suited groomsmen looked on. Smuggled Australian sand was blended with a bit of Cape May beach to signify the united countries.
Michelle, in a David's Bridal gown and aqua-tipped veil, provided color photos of frangipani, an Australian flowering tree, and the pastry chef re-created its white and yellow blooms from sugar paste to decorate the wedding cake. The DJ played numerous pop songs and folk music from Down Under as well.
"Don't stress out over the final details. At one point you just need to start having fun."