Last weekend, on May 1st, Grammi and Grampa celebrated their 40th anniversary by renewing their wedding vows. Surrounded by family and friends, the ceremony was officiated by their very own son-in-law, Pastor Danny Bennett of St. John’s United Methodist Church, Winter Haven, Florida. The event, hosted by the couple’s daughters, took place on the dock overlooking the beautiful and familiar lake behind their home where they have lived and raised their family for the past thirty-six years. It was a lovely setting for another chapter in what is the love story of Grammi and Grampa.
The idea blossomed when Grammi and Grampa were preparing to leave on a camping trip. Their daughter’s proposed to have a party to celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary. At first, the girls thought they would make it a surprise party, but they concluded it was probably not appropriate to host a party at their parent’s house without their approval. “We will make all the preparations and clean up afterwards. All you have to do is make sure you are back home in time”, they said.
After giving the nod for the party, Grampa approached his daughter Kacie with an idea of how they could still surprise Grammi. “On the day of our anniversary, I will ask Grammi if she would marry me again and renew our vows. After she says yes (he was confident she would say yes), you girls can whisk her away and get her ready. It will be a whirlwind surprise.” Kacie smiled as she thought of all the possibilities. “That is an excellent idea”, she said.
The morning of their anniversary, Grammi and Grampa were given orders to leave the premises. There were preparations to be done and decorations to display, but more importantly it gave the family the opportunity to arrive and gather around so they could witness Grampa popping the question. “Wow, you all are early to the party…Why is everyone so dressed up?”, Grammi asked when they returned home. Still she had no idea what was to happen next.
She had a bewildered look when Grampa knelt on one knee and held her hand. “Knowing what you know now — Would you marry me again? Will you stand with me today and renew our vows once more?” The family leaned in to hear her answer. At first, it was not the resounding YES that Grampa was hoping for. There was a long pause as she stared down at him. I think she thought he was fooling around. Only after she was convinced he was serious did the tears well up and her quavering voice said YES.
Grampa was a little slower getting off his knee than he was the first time he asked the question, but the hug and kiss that followed was passionate as ever. The girls were giddy and giggling when they whisked Grammi away. They showed her the decorations and old wedding photos they had worked so hard to make. They laid out four new dresses and asked Grammi to choose one. When she tried on the ivory colored chiffon dress, she busted out in tears and said, ”This is the one.” They fixed her hair with a small braid finished with red beads. She wore braids often when they were dating and Grampa loves when she wears them.
The granddaughter’s were so cute as flower girls carefully laying rose peddles along the dock’s walkway. Morgane Stapleton’s rendition of You Are My Sunshine played as Grammi appeared holding a bouquet of red and lavender flowers and made a slow walk toward the dock. “My bride is beautiful”, Grampa was overheard saying. When she arrived, she turned to face Grampa and leaned in to give him a kiss. Grampa said, “you were not supposed to do that until after we say are vows”. Everyone laughed out loud when they heard that.
Grammi’s sister was the maid of honor and Grampa’s brother was best man at the wedding forty years ago and once again stood along side as they renewed their vows. Grammi and Grampa each promised to love one another for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, ‘Til death do they part — just like they did all those years ago.
After exchanging the wedding vows, pastor Danny asked if either had anything to say. Grampa spoke up. He recalled their wedding day and said he has never regretted that day. He said he was glad they were renewing their vows and professed his love for all eternity. “With everlasting love for each other, we have built a wonderful life together and we have a loving family to show for it”, he said.
He went on to tell a story, “Do you remember yesterday when we were driving home from a camping trip? You said you looked up the symbol for the 40th wedding anniversary. You said it was a ruby. I acted surprised, ‘Oh really!’ I said. You said you didn’t care to have a ruby, that there were more important things to have. I am not sure if you heard my sigh when you said that, but I hope to change your mind now.” At that point, the best man handed Grampa a ruby ring and he placed it on her finger. “This is to commemorate our forty years together”, he said. Grammi, with tears running down her cheek could say nothing more than, “I love you.”
Family and friends, many who were at the wedding forty years ago, congratulated the couple and a fun celebration followed. There was catered food, drinks and a wedding cake. Grammi and Grampa sliced the cake and fed each other a piece, just like they did on their wedding day. It was a great day of celebration for two people deeply in love. They have made a wonderful life together. May they have many more years together.
There were many pictures taken throughout the day. Below are a few more.
Until next time — Happy days and safe travels.