Every day couples fall in love is a blessed day, a pastor says.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — Whether it was by design or by coincidence, couples who chose Saturday, 7/7/07, as their wedding date were hoping their special day would provide an auspicious start to the lives they would be sharing.
As they would on any warm weather Saturday, a steady stream of wedding parties flocked to Mill Creek Park’s Fellows Riverside Gardens to have their pictures taken where roses, begonias, hostas and marigolds were blooming. This date falls only once a century and, coincidentally, in 2007, it fell on a Saturday, which is a popular wedding day.
Among those getting married in an outdoor ceremony in warm and sunny weather in the Kidston Pavilion at the gardens were David Kyser, 22, and Bridget McBride, 21, both of Salem, who had been dating for almost five years.
“I just thought we need to have 7-7-7. It’s a lucky number, and I thought that would be kind of neat, and then, the closer it got, we realized that it was a really big deal,” Kyser said. “I hope it brings a happy marriage and our lives are fulfilled.”
Instead of a guest book, the couple asked guests to sign a poster bearing the date 7/7/07, and the couple planned to have tattoos bearing the 7-7-7 theme placed on their arms.
“We just thought this was the best place in Youngstown. Another place didn’t even cross our minds,” Kyser said, adding that the couple would be honeymooning in New York City.
A lucky date
Also tying the knot Saturday in the same pavilion were Russell Thornton, 26, of Johnston Township, Trumbull County, a foreman at Johnson Rubber Co. in Middlefield, and Kristy Urey, 29, of Greene Township, Trumbull County, a Warren G. Harding High School math teacher, who will reside in a house they have bought in Howland.
“We actually picked it [the wedding date] on a fluke. She wanted to get married on July 4, and it was the closest weekend to July 4,” Thornton explained, noting that Independence Day is his bride’s favorite holiday. “It’s warm, but at least we have a decent breeze,” Thornton said.
“The theme is more Victorian than 7/7/7,” Urey said, noting that the bridal party was dressed in the Victorian style. The Elegant String Quartet provided classical music for the 60 people attending the ceremony. “I wanted an outside wedding ... and this is the most beautiful place I’ve seen,” in the Mahoning Valley, Urey said.
Urey’s father and mother-in-law’s birthdays also fell on Saturday, she noted. “It’ll be easy for us to remember our wedding anniversary,” Urey said just before the ceremony. Engaged in Las Vegas just over a year ago, the couple had been dating for nine years. They’ll honeymoon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
“God’s been blessing with a gorgeous day to have a wedding, but I like to believe that every day that they [couples] fall in love and discover love for each other is a blessed day and a lucky day,” said the Rev. Lewis Macklin II, pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Youngstown, who performed the Urey-Thornton marriage ceremony.
Steve Lubonovich, 26, of Boardman, a warehouseman, and Kimberly Benson, 24, of Austintown, a physician’s assistant, who were married Saturday in Paradise United Church in Canfield, came to the gardens for a late afternoon photo session before going to their reception at the Mahoning Country Club. “It’s a lucky day,” Lubonovich said.
“My parents were married for 27 years; my aunt and uncle for 20-some, so the third time’s a charm on 7/7/07,” Benson said. The couple will honeymoon in Siesta Key, Fla., and reside in Austintown.
“It’s just a beautiful place to come. We’ve got the overlook and the lake; and it’s just warm and friendly; and we keep everybody pretty well satisfied when they come here,” said Bob Thomas, a gardens ranger.
Ceremonies at the park
The park books only one wedding ceremony per two-hour time period in the gardens and only one wedding reception inside the D.D. & Velma Davis Education & Visitors’ Center at the gardens on any Saturday. “We like it to be special and exclusive, and we want to help you make your day the best it can possibly be,” said Arlene Lanz, the center’s visitor services manager. “The gardens, because of their beauty, have become a very special place for people.”
In both 2005 and 2006, 110 couples were married each year in the gardens, Lanz said, adding that several hundred couples have their wedding photos taken each year in the gardens. Fifty wedding receptions have been scheduled in the Davis Center for 2007, including those concluded and those forthcoming.
Wedding receptions have been booked in the Davis Center for every Saturday between May and September this year and in 2008, and those wishing to be assured of booking the center or gardens for their desired wedding date should do so far in advance, Lanz said, noting that the center books events up to two years in advance.