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Stockbridge couple to unite in Harley ceremony

By Clay Wilson

Traditionally, the sound of wedding bells provides a send-off to happy couples leaving their nuptial ceremony.

For Debbie Standridge and Mike Robinson of Stockbridge, though, the audio backdrop to their recessional will be a chorus of motorcycle engines.

"Typically the way you show your support for them (is), after the wedding everybody cranks their bike engines and revs them real loud," said Anita McLaurin, promotions director at Harley-Davidson of Clayton County.

On Saturday, Standridge and Robinson will become the first couple to participate in a biker wedding at "The Best Little Harley House in Atlanta." But McLaurin said she hopes they won't be the last.

"I feel like it's going to be something that a lot of people are going to want to participate in," she said.

McLaurin said the Morrow Harley shop wants to make a biker wedding a tradition at its annual Biker Appreciation Day. This event was already scheduled for Saturday, and when Robinson called to reserve the HOG (Harley Owners Group) room for his wedding reception, McLaurin suggested that the couple have the wedding at the shop.

"Biker weddings have been going on for ages," she said, "but since (the motorcycle industry) has gotten so big, we decided we wanted to do a biker wedding," she said.

Saturday's bride and groom, who met a year and a half ago, said that suited them both just fine.

"We were going to go to a church and have a small, private wedding," said Robinson, and (Harley-Davidson of Clayton) offered to do their thing over there, and it was nice and we accepted."

Robinson said he has been riding motorcycles on and off for about 20 years. In 1998 he bought his first personal bike, a Harley Heritage Softtail. He said he takes it to shows and occasionally rides it for recreation.

Standridge said she's only been into motorcycling for about three years. She doesn't have a bike, but may want one eventually.

While she said she is OK with the idea of a biker wedding, she conceded with a chuckle, "I'm getting a little nervous now."

Standridge, wearing a white biker outfit and a matching Harley-Davidson hat, will be ridden into the wedding on the back of a friend's Harley. Robinson and his groomsmen will be wearing Harley T-shirts and jeans – Robinson might also wear a vest, Standridge said.

"I know it's not traditional – but there are people who do it," said Robinson. "I figure it's something different.

"We thought, ?Let's do something that you don't usually see and that we can look back on and see the fun we had,'" he said.

After Standridge and Robinson are united in Harley matrimony, the audience – many of whom will be bikers – will be led in a traditional biker renewal of their own wedding vows. The Rev. Ken King of the Christian biker group Brotherhood of Jesus Christ will perform the ceremonies.

These will be followed by a bike parade, complete with escorts from the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, over to Caf? Hot Wings on U.S. Highway 19/41. There the festivities will continue with biker games, a D.J. and food specials.

Standridge and Robinson won't leave immediately on a honeymoon. According to Standridge, they're planning a trip to Biloxi, Miss. at the end of May. But, she said, the late honeymoon might not continue the wedding's biker theme.

"It's kind of hard to carry everything you need (for the trip) on a bike," she said.