Twenty-five years ago, three couples met several times at Arby's in Statesboro to plan the wedding of Mae Fonda DeLoach and Tony Riggs.
After several months, the plans evolved into a double wedding that would include Mae's sister, Juliet DeLoach, and her fiancé, David Lee Smith.
The announcement of the double wedding, planned for June 11, 1988, at the Elm Street Church of God in Statesboro, was printed in the Statesboro Herald on March 20, 1988.
Before the wedding occurred, however, a third couple, Karen Caprice Riggs and John Fitzgerald Jones, decided to join and make it a triple wedding.
Now, those three couples — still happily married — will celebrate their 25th anniversaries together. The Statesboro Herald recently interviewed the couples at the same Arby's where they planned their joint wedding back in 1988.
"Everyone met with Tony and me to plan our ceremony," Mae said, "but we had no idea at first that it would develop into a triple wedding."
"Each time we would meet, things sort of changed, and our plans continued to expand," said Tony, Mae's husband.
Karen and Tony are brother and sister. Mae and Julie are also sisters, so the wedding truly became a family affair, which, according to Mae, was "a work of art." The pastor chosen for the ceremony assured all three couples that there was nothing to worry about because he had it all covered — and he did, as the ceremony went without a hitch.
Karen said they have continued to meet regularly through the years for support and encouragement, and they met with the pastor for their 15th anniversary.
"We couldn't have made it this far without each other," she said.
"Life has a lot of adversities, and our faith in God has helped to keep us together and on track," said Tony. "Trusting God and listening for his direction makes all the difference. Also, we are enjoying and appreciating the friendship we have in each other."
"We've learned that marriage is a lot of give and take. We won't agree on everything, and we must learn how to compromise," said Juliet Smith. "Communication is so very important, and to be aware that we all communicate differently. We give God all the credit for our longevity because the trials he has brought us through only made our love for each other stronger.
"Marriage is not for the weak," she added. "It takes a lot of work."