We wanted to wait until after Tammy had graduated from West Virginia State College, however due to a scheduling issue with the last class that she needed, she had to wait another semester. Tammy had started working a part-time job as a teller for a large bank in the area. This new job allowed her to quit the two part-time jobs on campus and the grocery store job as well. This was a blessing because planning a wedding can be very time consuming.Completely forgetting that Mother’s Day can sometimes fall on this date, we had settled on a date of Saturday, May 10th for our wedding with us thinking that this date would be good because it did not interfere with any other birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

For our honeymoon, we really wanted to go back to Disney. The band trip to Disney World during our senior year really hooked us on all things Disney. We also thought a cruise would be nice so we opted for both with a four-night cruise followed by three-nights as Disney World. Having never traveled anywhere by ourselves before, we decided to get some help from a local travel agency. We told them exactly what we wanted and how much we were able to pay and they set us up with a nice package deal. The cruise was on Premier Cruise Line’s The Big Red Boat. The ship was named the StarShip Atlantic and needless to say, the Trekkie in me was excited to be sailing on a ‘StarShip’. The Disney World part of the package included a three night stay in one of the Kissimmee hotels. Having never flown before, and with the ValuJet plane crash from the year before still fresh in my mind, I decided that we would drive to Florida in the pickup truck that I had recently traded for my Chevy Corsica. Stupid idea! Not the driving to Florida part but trading in my front-wheel drive Chevy for a rear two-wheel drive truck. With us living in the mountains of West Virginia and all the snow we got in the winter, I was stupid – not the first time nor the last time either as I would make other bone-head trade deals later on after moving to North Carolina.

With just a few months to go before we were going to place the order for our invitations for the wedding, our travel agent alerted us that Premier Cruise Line had sold our boat. “How does a company do that with reservations already booked”, I asked. She had no answer. Premier had re-accommodated us by moving our reservation to their second Big Red Boat named the StarShip Oceanic.

“We are still on a StarShip so that’s ok”, I replied to the travel agent.

“Mr. Barker, your new sail date is May 11th”

“Wait! We are driving and our wedding is the 10th! We will never make it in time for the cruise”

Stop the presses! We had to move the wedding back one day to May 9th. A Friday evening wedding was not what we had wanted as this would make it more challenging for friends and family to attend after working all day. Unfortunately, since the honeymoon had already been paid for, there really was nothing else we could do. Thankfully we had not ordered the invitations so the change was relatively easy.

With six and a half years of Sparkin’ plus nearly twenty-months of being engaged, the day had finally arrived for us to be married. Tammy and her mother did all of the decorations and made all of the food for the wedding reception and as per tradition, my parents sprung for the rehearsal reception. We did not want a large wedding nor did we want a very large wedding party. Tammy chose her sister to be her maid of honor while I chose dad to be my best man. I could not have chosen a better best man either. Dad had been there for me all those years; listening to me go on and on about Tammy. He knew her just as well as I knew her. Our sister-in-law, Tammy’s brother, and our oldest nephew rounded out the rest of the wedding party. We also had one of Tammy’s cousins as the flower girl and our youngest nephew, at the time, as our ring bearer.

Our wedding was held at the small church where I had attended all my life. Sandy Grove Missionary Baptist, still there today, is a little church along the banks of Little Sandy creek near a small town named Frame, WV. Throughout the years, this church had been my home for at least two to three nights a week. Be it a choir practice, quartet practice, Sunday morning and Sunday night services, or Wednesday night prayer meeting, this small little church will always hold a special place in my heart. The attendance varied throughout those years from as little as a dozen to more than one hundred. On this Friday evening in May of 1997, with snow flurries in the air, we packed the church with close to one hundred of our closest friends and family members. The officiant for the wedding was the pastor of our church. He had been with our church for years and was also the pastor who baptized me when I was ten years old, some fifteen years earlier, in that small little creek.

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