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Once-in-a-lifetime 12/12/12 prompts couples to marry

MANCHESTER - As they grow old together, they may forget a few details, but they should always remember their anniversary date.

Eight couples came to Manchester City Hall on Wednesday so they could start their married lives together on the once-in-a-lifetime date of 12-12-12.

Sarah Hoffman and Randall Dobson drove all the way from Colebrook to tie the knot. They've been together for eight years and always said they'd never get married.

But the chance for a special wedding date somehow changed that.

"I said, 'If you want to get married, the only date I'm going to marry you is 12-12-12,'" Hoffman said. "He said okay."

And so, she said, "We decided to freak everybody out."

The two picked Manchester to keep their wedding a secret from their friends and family; each has three grown children. Because one of Dobson's sons is serving overseas in Germany and wouldn't be able to attend a wedding, they decided to keep the whole thing quiet until it was over.

"We couldn't have all of them, so we didn't tell any of them," Dobson said. "We're going to tell them after lunch."

As they exchanged vows, Hoffman held a white rose - a special gift for all the brides from the staff at the city clerk's office. Her new husband wore jeans and a big grin.

Weddings are usually in the aldermanic chambers, but on Wednesday, the ceremonies instead were held in a small room decorated with poinsettias and an arbor adorned with tiny white lights.

Heather Freeman, assistant city clerk, said the staff wanted to do something festive to mark the occasion. "It makes it more special for us, too," she said.

Mayor Ted Gatsas dropped by in time to extend congratulations to Joanna Parrish and Barbara Hairston from Tyrone, Ga., who were married precisely at 12:12 p.m.

They chose this date because it's "so auspicious," Parrish said. "It'll never happen again in our lifetime."

And they chose New Hampshire, and Manchester, after they did some research online. Folks here have been truly welcoming, Hairston said.

Back home, the two women said, they usually refer to themselves as "roommates."

"And if one of us ends up in the hospital, we're sisters," Hairston said.

But yesterday, they gained new titles as Trisha Ballbach, a justice of the peace from the city clerk's office, said: "I now pronounce you wife and wife."

"We're legal," Parrish said as the two hugged tightly.

So how did it feel to be married?

"Like it's supposed to be," Hairston said.


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