Romance by the numbers
It seems many couples think getting married on the last sequential date of the century is one way to make their wedding ceremony special.
Sevier County Commissioner Jimmie Temple performs free marriage ceremonies at his previous home, the two-story white house with black shutters near the courthouse on Court Avenue.
He performs approximately 700 ceremonies each year, or around two per day. On Wednesday, 12/12/12, he performed 18 ceremonies for couples from Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio.
To put that increase in context, a PR Newswire report said the U.S.-based David’s Bridal estimated around 7,500 couples would marry on 12/12/12, a 1,446-percent increase from the less significant 12/12/11.
Dec. 12, 2012 may have been just another Wednesday for most, but for some, like Charles Long and Barbara Hill (now Long), numbers carry a little more weight.
The two are from Kentucky, and they came to Sevier County to get married by Temple, after Charles’ niece recommended him.
In the living room of the Court Avenue house, Charles made a note of how much he paid for gas on the way down to Sevier County: $66.69.
It’s the observation of a coincidence-lover or a numbers-lover, and this is a numbers-couple. Both are 66-years-old (and you know what six plus six equals), which means they were born in 1946 (and you know what one plus nine, minus four, plus six equals).
The two actually dated in high school, then were separated after graduation. Barbara went to work and live with her sister in Pennsylvania, and Charles briefly attended college before serving in Vietnam. He was shot in combat and earned a Purple Heart.
During their separation, both married. Barbara’s husband passed away six years ago, and Charles married and divorced twice. Barbara said they hadn’t really spoken in 35 years, and they only saw each other once during that time — at the fair grounds.
After Barbara’s husband passed away, she just decided to call Charles one day.
“I guess he’d been in my heart all these years even though I was married,” Barbara said. “I thought about him and prayed for him when he was in Vietnam. Our paths just didn’t cross. He was married, and I was married.”
The couple had been engaged two years before Wednesday. Their children had hoped for a ceremony back home, but Barbara said it was too hard to get everyone together.
“We didn’t want to put our lives off any longer so we just decided we’d come down here on 12/12/12 and do it,” she said.
They said they thought the sequential date might bring them luck. They also considered Jan. 3 of next year, but 1/3/13 didn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Through a mishap that nearly went unnoticed by Temple, the Longs were almost couple No. 512 in the record books. Temple, however, caught his mistake and penciled them in as No. 513.
“Would’ve been nice to have been 512,” Charles said with a laugh.
Of course, there are other advantages to being married on a same-number date, and Charles is well aware of them.
“In my second marriage, I never could remember our wedding anniversary,” he said. “I always had to do something to try to make up for it.”