An Army Reservist being activated races to the Chapel

January 18, 1991|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Evening Sun Staff

ELKTON SANDY TAYLOR didn't bother to gather things old, new and blue for her wedding yesterday to Jamie Armstrong.

The something borrowed, however, came naturally: Time.

Taylor, 22, and Armstrong, 30, both of Carlisle, Pa., were married shortly after noon Thursday in the Little Wedding Chapel in Elkton -- just hours before Armstrong was to report to his Army Reserve unit in York, Pa.

Armstrong's original orders were to report at 8 a.m. Thursday to the 254th Supply Company, but he asked for time to get married first.

"I'm nervous," admitted Taylor. "I can't believe we're doing this," she said, as the couple, accompanied by her mother, Dorothy Ferrell, and brother, Randy Taylor, sat in the parlor of the wedding chapel, waiting for a judge to waive the normal 48-hour waiting period required of couples marrying in Maryland.

They had driven more than three hours from Carlisle to Elkton, after learning that there are no exemptions -- even for a national emergency -- to Pennsylvania's three-day waiting period.

Taylor was shocked to learn late Wednesday that her fiance was being activated. "I never expected him to go," she said. Armstrong, who served three years in the Army, has been in the reserves only a few months, he said.

The couple had been planning to be married this summer in California. But "I didn't want this baby not to have a father," she said. Taylor is expecting the couple's first child next month.

Taylor called her mother, who, found the wedding chapel, scene of more than 800 weddings a year and the last holdover from the days when Elkton was "the wedding capital of the world.''

The chapel's owner, Barbara Foster, put the couple in contact with the judge who agreed to waive the waiting period. Foster's son, Steve, married the couple. There were laughs and giggles ** during the several-minute ceremony and an admonition when it was over: "Don't be all mushy," said the bride to her mother and husband.

In late November, Foster married two other couples before one partner left for duty in Saudi Arabia. That is when he learned that Maryland's waiting period can be waived during a national emergency. Never before in the 12 years Foster has been marrying people at the chapel has this been an issue.

But when Raul Morales, 19, and Sandra Lopez, 23, both of Wilmington, Del., wanted to be married just before Thanksgiving, they didn't have two days to wait. Lopez -- now Sandra Morales -- learned on a Saturday that her 249th Engineering Detachment of the Delaware Army National Guard was leaving for Fort Dix, N.J., the following Wednesday morning, and the couple could not apply for a license until Monday.

Circuit Court Judge E.D.E. Rollins Jr. agreed to sign a waiver for the couple.

Sandra Morales is in Saudi Arabia. "I'm scared for her," said her husband, who is living with his family in Wilmington.

The two had planned to be married this winter and considered not marrying before she went to the Persian Gulf. "But we wanted to build a stronger bond," he said.

Foster said about 40 military couples are married each year at the chapel, but that he knows of only these three that have wed earlier than they planned because of the Saudi situation.

There is one small advantage of being married before going off to war: The Fosters do not charge these couples the usual $50 to $100 fee. "It's the least we can do for them," said Foster.

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