Feb. 14, 2006 – Married from just under seven hours to 57 years, 54 couples came out Tuesday to Trunk Bay Beach on St. John to renew their vows.
Carolyn and Rich Sells of Richmond, Va., were married at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday by nondenominational minister Anne Marie Porter. She also officiated at the vow renewal ceremony, an endeavor that's become an annual tradition.
With Rich Sells in a black tuxedo with a red cummerbund and bow tie and Carolyn Sells in an ivory gown, the newlyweds were among the most stylish at the beach.
St. John winter residents Barbara and John Achzet were the couple married the longest, honors they've captured several years running.
"We got engaged 58 years ago today," Barbara Achzet said, resplendent in red, while her husband came out in shorts, a guayabera shirt and red bandana.
Bob and Nan Barlow, who spend winters on St. John and the rest of the year in Ithaca, N.Y., were right behind them with a marriage certificate 55 years old.
St. Thomas residents Robin and Carlos Clothier had lots to celebrate. Married 30 years ago on Valentine's Day, the couple has been through some very hard times. Robin Clothier said that in 1987, her husband lost his hand in a chopper. Then, just as she was ready to retire and move to St. Thomas, she discovered she had leukemia. She's now in remission.
"We realized you don't know how much time you have together, so you have to make every minute count. You want to make each other realize how much you mean to each other," she said, explaining why they decided to renew their vows.
Eileen and Doug Trojanowski and Cherie and Rich Sperber live near each other in Easthampton, N.Y. Vacationing together in a St. John villa, the two couples decided to renew their wedding vows together. "It seemed like a neat thing," Eileen Trojanowski said.
Joan and Frank Fachman of Minneapolis, who were married on St. Thomas a dozen years ago, are also vacationing on St. John. They heard about the event and also decided to renew their vows.
Porter had lots of good words to say to the couples.
"Today when you say I do, it's with a lot more experience than the first time," she said as the sun began to set over the mountains to the west.
St. John resident Cathy Dove, who helps organize the event, said the vow renewal ceremony continues to grow in popularity.
"This is Love City. This island is all about love," she said.
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