Jazz Fest holds special meaning for local couple

25 years later, Marty and Derra Sims came back to Jazz Fest to celebrate their anniversary. (Cliff Williams / The Outlook)

Everyone thinks of music and good times when Jazz Fest is brought up, but not for Marty and Derra Sims.

Jazz Fest serves as a reminder of a milestone for the couple as they were married at one of the tables of Jazz Fest in 1993.

Friday, the Sims celebrated their 25th anniversary, though it was a little early and a surprise for Derra.

“We just moved back,” she said. “We said let’s go. I didn’t realize they were doing this. I thought we were just going to bring chairs and sit around.”

Derra was surprised her husband had planned a wedding anniversary celebration of Strand Park.

The couple was featured in the Outlook in 1993 getting married at the third annual Jazz Fest in front of hundreds of unsuspecting witnesses and the framed article and picture serve as a reminder of the event.

“That is why I have got that picture, to remind me of the date,” Marty said. “It has been hanging in a closet or somewhere where I can get to it every year.

“I am just as guilty about remembering the date as he is,” Derra said. “The actual date is the 18th.

The couple chose Jazz Fest for an unusual wedding.

“We wanted something different,” Marty said.

“We wanted something a little weird,” Derra added.

Rev. Kenneth Neely performed the ceremony that drew more and more eyes as the service went on. Today, the couple cannot recall who was on the stage.

The couple explained they had only been to one other Jazz Fest since they married in 1993.

“We were going to try come back every year but by then, we were both living in Wetumpka,” Derra said. “We came back and we hadn’t been there 10 minutes before it started pouring down rain. We left and went to a Mexican restaurant and O.J. Simpson was on T.V. being chased around in his Bronco.”

As if holding their wedding at Jazz Fest was not weird enough, the Alexander City Sims’ story of how they got to be a couple, may be even better.

“I was living in Wetumpka and he was living in Alexander City,” Derra said. “We had known each other for years. I was married to someone else and divorced. He was married and divorced as well. And we were all friends.”

“She was supposed to invite my ex-wife to a Halloween party,” Marty said.

“That I was hosting in Wetumpka, but she didn’t answer her phone,” Derra continued. “I knew they had gotten a divorce. I was having a huge Halloween party and thought I would call her up and see if she wanted to meet some new guys. I had a date that night. I didn’t have anything planned.”

That party invitation has created story after story for their 26 plus years together, 25 of which they have been married.

“I was trying to get his ex-wife to meet some new blood and here I get the old blood,” Derra said. “It worked though. We have done good. It is amazing. We have all laughed about it since then.”