On Valentine’s Day, The Fountains hosted the first ever Vow Renewal Ceremony and Reception. The event was open to all married couples and domestic partners that wished to renew their commitments they made to each other, no matter if it has been 5, 10, 15 or 75 years!
Shortly after sending out the personal invites to the couples in the community, 10 were excited to join in on the opportunity and with that, the Community Life team was off to work to make it the best experience possible! With volunteers from the community, including residents, children and local vendors, the support that poured in to help create a memorable experience was overwhelming, to say the least!
Each couple was personally interviewed for their story, including not only their highlights of their marriages, but what advice they felt was the best in helping to keep their marriages healthy, loving and thriving over the years. As we took a stroll down memory lane, recalling their wedding days, we had the opportunity to get a “then & now” photo of each couple, and that was amazing to bare witness to.
The week of the ceremony, our local kiddos and families from the Sunshine City Kids came to help our residents make the ladies bouquets and gentlemen’s boutineers for their special day. The residents helped the Community Life team make all the centerpieces and floral arrangements and the maintenance team assisted in finding the pallets to make the DIY rustic signs, and the Community Life team went to sanding, staining and painting for the big day. It was a true community wide labor of love!
The afternoon prior to the big day, we had a special rehearsal for our couples and our officiating Chef, to lessen the jitters and work out the kinks! It was tons of fun in itself and just made us all that much more excited for the big event.
The day of the ceremony, gracious volunteers came to help our brides-to-be-again have quite the morning! The ladies had their hair, makeup and nails done while enjoying mimosas & coffee, and sharing laughs and memories all morning long. We even had a few visitors! Two sweet children came by to pass out Valentines to the ladies, and later students from Stetson Law toured the building and made a special stop, sharing carnations and Valentine’s Day Cards! A big “thank you” to Natasha Gwatney, a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, who volunteered her time and gave makeovers to all our ladies to accentuate their natural beauty while beautician Sherry Alexander made sure all the ladies (and a few of the men) had their hair done in the loveliest of ways! To capture these moments from morning to after the reception was professional photographer, Greta Green of Green Pearl Photography. These amazing ladies and their gracious services assisted in contributing to the memorable moments of the day, and we are so thankful to each of them!
Just before the ceremony, our couples gathered together and had a mimosa (if they so chose) to ease the jitters and get ready to walk down the aisle – again! We pinned the made-with-love boutineers to the gentlemen’s lapels and gave the ladies their bouquets and with that, we were ready to celebrate these amazing couples and take part in their journey on recommitting their love to each other on the day that represents love in so many ways!
As each couple took their leave to head down the aisle together, the years they have spent loving each other was shouted for all to hear! The couples that stood before us, Phil & Stella; Alice & Ed; Marilyn & Jack; Bill & Joyce; Jerry & Robin; Jim & Corrine; Judy & Joe; Millie & Jim; & Don & Judy; all have been married as of this day, anywhere from 27 years to 75 years! As each couple took their seats, Chef Chris began with opening remarks and a few jokes, and went on to share the vows and memories to commemorate the day.
Their personal advice was written into the vows that were used during the ceremony, as the best advice from those that have found how to create lasting love is the most powerful vows one could share with their partners. The message is clear, and we’d like to share their advice and vows with you:
“Let your love be stronger than your anger, and never end the day on a sour note.
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend than to break.
Believe the best of your partner, rather than the worst and always remain considerate & encouraging.
Confide in your partner and communicate in healthy ways. Don’t avoid conflict.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship, and never stop dating.
Listen and respect your partner, the rest will follow.
Be affectionate and say “I love you” every day.”
Once the ceremony concluded and was sealed with a kiss, the couples took off to their extremely long wedding party table to feast! The Dining Department prepared a beautiful meal of Chicken Cordon Blu, chive and sour cream stuffed twice baked potato with creamed sweet spring peas paired with Chardonnay. After the main course and the couples that wished to have a moment to cut the cake together (and feed each other, too!) all were served a specialty velvet cake with endless champagne!
The 10th couple, whom due to personal health reasons, received a private ceremony in their beautiful apartment while overlooking the bay and dined on the delights with their family and friends, including the maid of honor and best man from their wedding, who happened to show up from out of town unannounced and unknowing that they would be renewing their vows on this day!
The day concluded with tears of love and happiness and lots of dancing to music from DJ Craig Singleton of Big City Entertainment. Each of our couples reside within each of our neighborhoods and one of our brides shared that it had been some time since she had seen her husband seem himself, and it brought her to tears and because of him feeling like himself again, she kept getting him out on the dance floor as much as she could!
The day created lasting moments for us all, and The Fountains’ is honored to have been able to be part of their special day. Cheers to you all, and may this day shine eternally in your lives. May you care for each other in all times, happy and sad. May you give cheer to each other. May you give strength to each other in all undertakings. May your love for each other continue to be a source of inspiration to yourselves, your families, your friends, and to all whose lives you touch.
The video of the event is soon to come, but in the meantime and in case you missed the video by WTSP Channel 10 News on Phil & Stella’s 75 Years of Marriage, click here.
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