Ninety-five couples representing 2,065 years of marriage renewed their vows to one another at the idyllic setting of Trunk Bay beach on Valentine’s Day as the sun dipped into the sky below Peace Hill.
The Thursday evening, February 14, sixth annual vow renewal ceremony organized by Bill and Cathy Dove and conducted by St. John’s barefoot minister Anne Marie Porter, drew a record number of couples — including Barbara and John Achzet, who will celebrate their 60th year of marriage this year. The Achzets are regulars at the yearly vow renewal ceremony.
“It’s good for young people to see us oldies hang in there for a while,” said Barbara Achzet.
“Life is too short to be unhappy,” added John Achzet. “I can’t imagine being with anybody else. We just consider ourselves blessed.”
A “yes dear” mentality has helped the couple persevere through good times and bad, John Achzet added.
“Doing What Comes Naturally”
Echoing that advice was Bob Barlow, who’s been married to his wife Nan Barlow for 57 years. The couple has renewed their vows five times at the annual Valentine’s Day ceremony.
“‘Yes dear’ is good advice,” said Bob Barlow. “We enjoy the ceremony because it’s very romantic, and it brings back a lot of memories.”
“We just wouldn’t want to miss it,” added Nan Barlow, who credited the couple’s 57 years of happiness to “doing what comes naturally.”
Newlyweds were also on hand at the ceremony, including Rich and Carolyn Sells of Richmond, Virginia. The couple, who renewed their vows just hours after their wedding in 2006, celebrated their two-year anniversary at the ceremony.
“If we keep renewing our vows, we know we’ll stay married,” said Carolyn Sells. “It helps us capture that feeling again.”
The first two years of marriage have been “excellent” for the couple, Rich Sells added.
Couples gathered on the beach as Cathy Dove, who herself has been married to husband Bill Dove for 35 years, opened the ceremony.
“Marriage is a work in progress,” said Cathy Dove. “There never seems to be enough time, or enough days in the year to say I love you.”
Dove urged couples to share their feelings of love openly and often, as one is never guaranteed their loved ones will be around tomorrow.
Local singer Shikima Jones then sang “What a Wonderful World,” encouraging the crowd to join in singing with her.
Porter lightened the mood as she addressed the couples before the renewal of vows began.
“Today when you say ‘I do,’ it’s with a lot more information than the first time,” said Porter. “You know yourselves so much more deeply than you did years ago when you had the hopefulness and courage to say ‘I do.’ Every moment of your relationship has prepared you for this one.”
Porter urged couples to let go of past hurt and resentment. The couples gazed into one another’s eyes with their hands placed on each other’s hearts as they renewed their commitment to one another.
The couples then walked to the sea to ponder their future together, and some celebrated with champagne. Couples were given a rose and a vow renewal certificate at the culmination of the ceremony.