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Local couples plan weddings for today, July 7, 2007

Three years ago Paul Girouex stepped off the airplane in Bemidji with one dozen flowers in his hand, got down on his knee and proposed to Kristine Stark.

Stark, 39, and Girouex, 35, will wed today on July 7, 2007 - or as many are calling it, 07-07-07.

"I wanted the perfect day to marry the perfect guy," said Stark about selecting her wedding date.

Similarly, after deciding to delay their wedding one year, it didn't take Krista Jonsten and Chris Scanlan very long to select a date.

"We realized that next year [this year] is '07 - and July is a number 7 as well," Jonsten said. "We thought, 'Maybe the seventh is on a Saturday.'

"We looked at the calendar and said, 'Oh that would be the perfect date!'"

Today marks the jackpot of all wedding dates: July 7, 2007. In numerical form, 7-7-07, the date only comes along once in a century - and even more rarely does it fall on a Saturday.

Stark, who is marrying Girouex today in Iowa, their hometown, said she wanted so badly to get married on this date that she and Giroux waited for a couple of years before tying the knot.

"I truly hit the jackpot with him," she said.

Across the country couples have been scrambling to book weddings for today. While the rush hasn't been quite so mad here in Bemidji, there certainly has been some extra demand.

Reva Howe, the director of sales with the Hampton Inn & Suites, said today was the first Saturday booked for a wedding reception of all the weddings this year.

She also said she expects that Aug. 8, 2008, or 8-8-08, which falls on a Friday, also will be booked early. Many people consider the number 8 to be lucky because it sounds like the Chinese word for prosper or wealth.

Jonsten, who today is having a traditional wedding at Evangelical Covenant Church in Bemidji, said she knew of one other couple who also expressed an interest in getting married at the church today.

But, because Jonsten and Scanlan already had begun their pre-marital counseling, they had the date sealed.

"Our favorite number has always been seven," Jonsten said, adding that she has liked the number "pretty much all of my life."

"It just happened to be (Scanlan's) favorite number, too," she said. "It's a popular number."

Home wedding

Ellie Robia, 28, today will wed Dustin Holloway, 37, at her parents' home. She said the decision to get married on July 7, 2007, was mainly a coincidence.

While considering wedding dates for this summer, she was eyeing numbers that had a good ring to them, a multiple of five maybe. Or a nice, round number.

"We were looking at June, July or August and the Saturdays available," she said.

She wasn't too keen on idea of June 9 or 23, but was considering June 30, her father's birthday, when the idea struck her.

"I wondered if July 7 was really on a Saturday," she said. "And it was."

When Robia selected the date, she said she hadn't yet heard all the hype about couples scrambling to find locations or churches on July 7. Since then, she has read articles and seen reports about couples in Las Vegas and throughout the country who want to wed on this date.

But Robia didn't have to compete with other couples. Her wedding will take place at her parents' lake house in Pinewood.

"I really wanted to get married in my hometown," she said. "My family has lived here for 20 years."

Iowa wedding

Stark said she and Giroux considered a destination wedding about one year ago, but was unable to find any openings.

"We could take the trip, but we couldn't get married," she said. "Everything was completely booked."

Stark and Girouex originally planned to marry in the Bemidji area at Kohl's Resort, but decided it would be easier for the two of them to travel rather than having all of their friends and relatives come north. They met when they were 14 years old in Shenandoah, Iowa, just south of Omaha, Neb. They "drifted apart" but reconnected after Girouex left the service.

"He's a great guy," Stark said.

Cute sevens

While selecting the date, Robia said she asked some friends and relatives if they thought the idea of a 7-7-07 wedding was "cheesy" but they instead "thought it was cute," she said.

The date also lent itself to her wedding's tone. Instead of the formal script on the invitations that typically might read: On Saturday, the seventh of July, two thousand and seven, Robia's invitations were dated with 07.07.07.

She also used 07.07.07 on her wedding favors, which are personalized M&M candies, and on golf tees, as the weekend also features a golf outing.

After they marry today, Robia and Holloway will reside in Japan. Holloway is a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and is stationed in Iwakuni, Japan. Robia, who also used to serve in the U.S. Navy, hopes to receive a position as a physician's assistant.

Holloway flew into the U.S. on June 30. He had left for Japan on New Year's Day this year.

"He was gone six months - it was hard," Robia said.

Holloway was granted two weeks' leave to get married. Robia, who met Holloway while she was in the U.S. Navy herself, said the commander at his base has been "very gracious."

Jonsten and Scanlan, who met each other through mutual friends, have been together for more than two years.

"We had a lot of the same friends, but we had never hung out," Jonsten said.

They have planned a traditional wedding with about 200 guests and are having six attendants apiece.

"We are just so happy," she said.

Lucky 7s?

The following are just a sampling of the many places in which the numeral 7 shows up in religion, history, culture and art.

-- Jewish brides and grooms are celebrated for seven days' worth of festive meals.

-- Seven celestial objects in the solar system are visible to the naked eye (sun, moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn).

-- In the Bible creation story, God rested on the seventh day.

-- The menorah, one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people, is a seven-branched candelabrum.

-- In Christianity, there are seven virtues and seven deadly sins.

-- In Roman Catholicism, the Virgin Mary has seven joys and seven sorrows.

-- Seven candles are lit during the African-American celebration Kwanzaa, a seven-day holiday.

-- There are seven heavens and also seven earths, according to Islamic traditions.

-- In Buddhism, Buddha walked seven steps at his birth.

-- There are Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology.

-- There are seven notes in the traditional Western Major Scale in music.

-- In J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," the dwarves were given seven rings. There also were seven Lords of the Valar and seven Ladies of the Valar.

-- "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" is a book by T.E. Lawrence.

-- In J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books, the numeral 7 is the most powerfully magical number. There also are seven books in the series, and Harry Potter was born in July, the seventh month.

-- There are seven continents.

-- One week has seven days.