The Wedding of the Century | Meet Celeste & Arthur
The Trade Center would like to showcase an extraordinary love story of a beautiful and inspiring couple. We had the pleasure of interviewing Celeste and Arthur a few weeks ago and learned not only about their special day with us but, the true meaning of an everlasting marriage. Let’s look back 25 years ago to their wedding day at the Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center.
Please see their interview with us below:
Please introduce yourself!
Celeste: My name is Celeste Sumbry and this is my husband, Arthur Sumbry Jr. and we got married on July 15, 1995, at the Trade Center 25 years ago when we were just babies! I was 22 and he was 24.
Your wedding pictures are gorgeous. Tell us what made you choose the Trade Center back in 1995 for your special day?
Celeste: He has tons of family. After 25 years, I still don’t think I’ve met all of them! And I have a pretty big family, as well. I am an only child with tons of family, and he had a sister that recently passed. But we just have a lot of family members and friends and he’s also part of the Masonic Lodge. He’s a Mason, as well as a Shriner, and as you can see in the pictures, we did have a Masonic ritual wedding. So that would include all our friends and family, all the Masons, and tons of people, so we knew we had to have somewhere bigger than our church. Initially, our parents suggested that we go to the Civic Center and I said that’s too big! So, we came here, and we chose The North Hall and The Dining Gallery upstairs, which was a smooth transition. I remember his dad, who is passed away now, giving me the check to pay for the food. Me and Arthur looked at the check, and even back then that’s a lot of money, so we thought maybe we should have a smaller wedding and save the money to create a nest egg for our family. But at that moment, we had decided that we were best friends since I was 14 and he was 16, and we were just going to go all out, and I don’t regret it one bit.
You brought up something about being best friends, so I want to ask the groom… when did you know that this was going to be your bride forever?
Arthur: I’ll be honest with you guys, when I met her at 16, we decided to be just friends and she said “I can live without some people that I know, but I can’t live without my best friend.’ And for her to tell me that I was her best friend, that meant the world to me. She and I moved on as teenagers and we explored and dated other people and had other friends, but there was a connection between us that was an inseparable bond and I said to myself that if I ever get the chance, just one more chance, I’m going to make her my wife. Later on, we got back together in our early twenties and I proposed to her and said you’re going to be my wife. I made it happen.
Celeste: He totally embarrassed me! I was working for TSYS at the time and he showed up on my birthday with flowers, and I’ll never forget… he gave me a card and, in the card, it says P.S. Look behind the ribbon. I’m downstairs in security at work and I look behind the ribbon and there sat a ring box. Now you all must realize that I’m 22 and I knew I wanted him as my best friend, but I didn’t know if I was really ready to be a wife! I saw the box and he got down on his knee and proposed and security ran out and took pictures. I was thinking ‘oh my gosh, how do I become a wife at 22?!’ But then I thought why not? This is the man I’ve known. He knows everything about me, I know everything about him, we’ve given each other advice and constructive feedback on those people we talked to or dated along the way, and I just felt that it was God-ordained. If you’re going to be with somebody, it needs to be a friend. So, we got engaged and he wanted to get married 6 months from the engagement date and I said ‘Whew! I’m going to need some time!’ So, I told him, if you could give me a year… but he said no, that’s too long!
We ended up doing it about 10 to 11 months later and it was a lot of work! But I remember the people that worked here at the Trade Center back then and they were just extremely helpful.
Here we are now, 25 years later after an Iron Works Strong marriage. I want to ask you what advice would you give to couples who are coming to tour the Trade Center for the first time and planning their day. What would be the top 3 things that you would give them advice for on their big day or with marriage in general?
Celeste: I want to say number 1 is, you have to be connected spiritually. You have to be on the same level as it relates to your faith. Sometimes, you may have one that’s a little bit more mature or more experienced, but have to be willing to come together and pray together. If Arthur and I didn’t start praying together while we were young, I don’t even think our friendship would’ve lasted because there are so many things that come in life and as you get married, so many things happen: financial hardships, disagreements, children, family, so many different things. And if you’re not spiritually grounded, those things can pull you apart.
Arthur: I would say number 2 is that the wedding vows and ring are significant of you or your couple. Keep everyone else outside of your perimeters. Make sure that you and the person that you’re marrying are on the inside and everyone else is on the outside, so to speak. Because you are the most important persons to each other, and everything else comes after that. The friendship and the love is the bond that’s surrounding what you have in your heart and your household. Everything else is outside.
Celeste: For number 3, as far as the wedding planning, I know as new couples you are super excited, but you really want to analyze who is going to be a part of that special day. Weddings are not just because they’re beautiful and tons of people come. One thing that I’ve learned over time is that you want to invite people and even tell them in the beginning stages, especially your wedding party, that your job is to keep us together. You are not there to bring negativity to us. When tough times come, we need you to pray us through it. You’re here to not only witness, but you’re binding us together and you’re going to help us stay together. That’s the biggest thing. I remember having that conversation with my bridesmaids and his groomsmen and we said ‘no matter what trials may come, we need you all covering us in prayer and to pray with us because this is sealed with God and we need you all to stand in agreement with us. There is more to it than just being a part of the wedding.’
You mentioned children. Do you have kids?
Celeste: We do! We have 2 girls together who are 16 and 12 years old. We waited 7 years before we had our first one. Although we knew each other forever, we didn’t have children immediately. We had to learn each other by living together and that’s a whole different thing than knowing each other. So, we have one who is a teen and one who’s about to be a teen and they are both dad’s girls! He cannot do any wrong to them and no matter what happens, I’m the bad guy and he just talks to them and they’re okay! But they are heavily involved with the church as we’ve been able to raise and teach them to be strong in their faith. Sometimes they pray us through and give us Godly advice and wise council. But he spoils them rotten!
Your 25th anniversary fell in the middle of a pandemic, so how did you celebrate?
Celeste: We’ve flown tons of places, but we’ve never been on a cruise. So, on our 25th, we were going to go on a cruise and even started making payments, but then the pandemic happened and we couldn’t get on a boat! This time, we knew we would have to be home with the girls. We’ve included them a lot in our celebrations because they’re a part of our union. But we stayed home this year for our anniversary, and him and the girls surprised me with a photoshoot by a waterfall. We went home and he told me to get dressed. He and our children hired a personal chef that came to our house and cooked a beautiful dinner. It totally surprised me! But we spent time at home, just the four of us, and it was just as beautiful as if we had flown somewhere else.
Looking back on your day here at the Iron Works, what would you say is one special word to tie up what your wedding day meant to you?
Celeste: Miraculous. It was miraculous, in many ways. Us coming together as friends and bringing together our families. His dad was there who has passed on and my mom was there who has also passed on, and a lot of our bridesmaids and groomsmen have passed on. The moment of us transitioning from best friends to soulmates was God-ordained. And so, I look at that as a miracle. And we’re still best friends. People ask us all the time how we stay together, and I say ‘You can walk away from a husband, you can walk away from a wife, but I am not walking away from my best friend ever. Till death do us part.’
Is there one last thing that you would like to share?
Arthur: I will say this… We felt that because we had our wedding at the Trade Center, it was going to be the wedding of the century. I felt that because of so many people and so much love and this is the woman that I’m going to be with for the rest of my life. We put our love for each other and the affection that we have for each other on display so everyone can see that this is going to be my wife and I’m going to be her husband and nothing is going to separate us.