Love was in the air on the beach at Lovers Key State Park as 85 couples renewed their vows on Valentines Day. The ocean and gulls provided background music for the occasion.
Couples were young and old, newly married or past their golden anniversary. The annual vow renewals ceremony is so popular that two are scheduled to meet demand – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both events offered photo stations, champagne and mimosa toasts, delicious meals, coffee and wedding cake, gift certificate giveaways, door prizes, and a parting gift for each couple.
Several couples attend this event every year, and one couple has attended and renewed their vows 6 times. For many couples this was their first chance to recommit and renew the love they have for each other.
"To be able to say ‘I do’ all over again is an amazing and special thing.
– Reverend Allen Lincoln, the presiding ecumenical minister
Four couples at this years event were married 60 years or more; Jean and Don Hirt renewed their vows to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, with their daughter and son-in-law joining them to celebrate. The Hirts met at the Lakefront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and had a 3-year courtship.
Seventeen couples attending this year were married at least 50 years. Patricia and Gerald Lamothe from Cape Cod, Massachusetts celebrated their 50th Anniversary. They renewed their vows in matching powder blue tee shirts, which were a gift from their daughter. When the couple stood next to each other their shirts spelled out "Married Since 1967" on the back. They have known each other since childhood.
Twenty-one of this year's couples were married at least 25 years. For some, the vow renewal celebrated second marriages as well. Jerry and MayAnn Swinehart, now married for 17 years, were both widowed when they met. They have a total of 79 years of marriage between them. This was their first year attending the ceremony.
One couple from Michigan, Pat Petrie and Tom McVicar, recently got engaged at a SuperBowl party. "We're celebrating the beginning of our marriage, and practicing for our wedding day," said Pat. They have been coming to Naples for 12 years and saw the Vow Renewal advertised in a local paper.
Each couple's registration fee adds to our Visitor Center Fund. This event is usually a sell-out, so make sure to reserve your spot early. RSVP with your preference of Brunch or Lunch to Judy Greenwood: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 708-359-0466.
It was by far the most romantic Valentine’s Day I’ve ever enjoyed.