The sound of waves crashing provided an audible backdrop for Tuesday’s 10th annual Valentine’s Day Vow Renewal at Trunk Bay on St. John.
“Let today’s I Do be really loud,” non-denominational minister Anne Marie Porter told the 72 couples gathered at Trunk Bay’s pavilion to renew their marriage vows.
Porter added that the 72 couples have been married for over 2,000 years. While the ceremony is usually held on the beach, pounding waves eroded it to a point where only a sliver of sand remained. The location may have been a few yards further inland than usual, but it featured, as always, musical entertainment and nice words from Porter and her co-organizer, Cathy Dove.
“Marriage is work, but you all know that,” Dove said as many of the couples laughed knowingly at her remarks.
Bill and Phyllis Kikendall, married 62 years, took honors for being married the longest. They’re staying on St. Thomas visiting their son and his wife, Island View Guest House owners Ron and Beth Kikendall.
When asked what kept them together so long. Bill Kikendall had a quick response.
“She’s perfect to live with,” he said.
As for his wife, she said that working things out was the secret to a long marriage.
The couple has four children, 13 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.
Their son and daughter-in-law also renewed their vows. Beth Kikendall organized the excursion across Pillsbury Sound to St. John. The younger Kikendalls have been married for 28 years.
Henry and Betty Costabel of Cornwall, N.Y., got second for marriage longevity: 57 years.
“You’ve got to know how to play cards,” Henry Costabel said, laughing as he revealed his secret for spending time with his wife.
Molly and Edward Chan came on vacation to St. John with three other couples. All were at the ceremony.
“We’re celebrating our first 12 and looking forward to the rest,” Okemis, Mich. resident Edward Chan said.
While many couples were in the Virgin Islands on vacation, or spend only winters in the territory, some are year-round residents who renew their wedding vows every Valentine’s Day.
St. John residents Terry and Jim Provost are repeat renewers, but Terri Provost said that while renewing her marriage vows is special, marriage to a special person like her husband is perfect.
“My marriage is perfect,” she said.
St. John residents Laurel Brannick and Marc Bigrigg have been married seven years.
“It solidifies our love for each other through tough times,” Bigrigg said, adding that the ceremony reminds them of the commitment made when they got married.
Martha and Jerry Hills of St. John have been married for 21 years. This was their second time renewing their marriage vows.
“We’re going to go home and have wine together and have an evening for two,” Jerry Hills said.