What Books and Magazines are Saying
About Anne Marie Porter, St Johns Barefoot Minister
Anne Marie left her body on August 5, 2022.
To honor Anne Marie’s memory she requested you go to your local shelter and adopt a dog or cat.
Our Pick for the Groom
St. John Weddings
The island of St. John in the Caribbean Sea is both paradise and a sanctuary for grooms and brides looking to get hitched — or re-hitched — on the beach. GroomGroove.com sought out St. John’s Barefoot Minister, Anne Marie Porter, for some ideas on how to make your destination beach wedding a reality in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. John is a Caribbean island that forms part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a small slice of the United States just east of Puerto Rico. 3/4 of the island is designated as a National Park and is therefore completely undeveloped. With crystal clear water and some of the top rated beaches in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands is an ideal place for a destination beach wedding.
If her voice is any indication, the sun is certainly shining on Anne Marie Porter, a well-known professional wedding officiate, and a twenty-five year resident on the U.S. Virgin Islands. With pale sands and the ocean as your altar, grooms and brides can be married by Porter in a personalized ceremony for only $500. Included in this price tag are all consultations, a ceremony at the location of your choice, and a certified copy of the license and certificate of marriage. (A separate $100 fee will need to be paid to the court for your marriage license.) This is quite a bargain, given that you are looking at a minimum of that amount, if not more, for licensing and officiate fees in other parts of the world that are much less beach-friendly!
St John’s Barefoot Minister
“This is truly my passion and my life’s work,” says Anne Marie Porter, in an interview with GroomGroove.com. Not content to stand before a bride and groom and read a canned selection from a book, Porter has developed a unique approach to the wedding ceremony, earning her the moniker “St. John’s Barefoot Minister.”
“I have no paper in my hands,” Porter says proudly. “I create each ceremony based on the couple’s individual needs.” For this reason, many interfaith couples choose St John Weddings. The barefoot minister reports that she performs many “spiritual ceremonies,” in addition to religious ceremonies. She often brings the ceremony “back to nature,” describing the environment surrounding the couple as they make their commitment to each other.
The best time of year for a beach wedding on St. John
“Year-round,” reports Anne Marie Porter, simply. “Year-round, St. John is 87 degrees and sunny. Rain showers are short, and usually followed by a rainbow.” And, repeat after us: “Hurricanes hardly ever happen.” Porter informs GroomGroove.com that although September is officially on the books as “hurricane season” in her world, a true hurricane hasn’t hit St. John in over a decade, which is why it might be wisest to plan your wedding in the off-season — roughly July through October. Booking flights and hotels for the quieter months may save you money on flights and accommodations — well-worth a little research. “But the beaches are just as lovely and the restaurants just as wonderful in the off-season” assures Porter.
Getting married, re-married, or renewing your vows on St. John
If you’re looking for the destination wedding experience, but don’t feel like saying your vows barefoot, St. John Weddings also offers wedding ceremonies in villas, sailboats, sugar mill ruins, and island churches. And if you’ve chosen St. John Weddings, chances are your wedding and honeymoon destinations are one and the same.
Anne Marie Porter tells GroomGroove.com that she is re-marrying many couples who have been married and legally divorced. “I tell these couples, the first time’s the menu, the second time’s the meal.”
Also, a popular choice for St. John Weddings is vow renewal. “Grooms often call me and say that they want to surprise their wives with a vow renewal on the beach,” reports Porter. Under the guise of a vacation, husbands can turn a family or romantic couple’s getaway into an excuse to marry their wives all over again on the beach.
Of course, you’ll need to budget for air travel to The Islands unless you’re a very fortunate resident of the Caribbean already. Delta and American Airlines can get you some of the most affordable flights with short stop-offs in either Florida or Puerto Rico from many destinations in North America.
You will actually be searching for flights to neighboring St. Thomas, as no flights go directly to St. John. Once you arrive on St. Thomas, brides, grooms, and guests (unless you’ve chosen to elope) take a pleasant, twenty-minute ferry ride over to the less commercialized island of St. John
What to do on St. John
“Swimming, snorkeling, fine dining, scuba diving, sightseeing — it’s all there. Marriages, re-marriages, elopements, and vow renewals are all performed by Porter on a regular basis.
St. John’s Weddings also has access to top photographers and videographers, florists, and musicians. You will need to do the legwork and write the checks for these extra services yourselves, but Porter will provide the names, numbers, and websites of companies gladly, and free of charge.
Plastered with gushing testimonial after gushing testimonial, check out their website for key details such as service choices, locations, and frequently asked questions about legal requirements for getting married in St. John. And if the testimonials and pictures of beaming brides and grooms in paradise convince you to investigate further, contact Anne Marie Porter herself, at 340-626-4658.“
“Anne Marie Weddings.com, a wedding planner on St John, provides a lovely service.
The wedding planner will help you organize your marriage license application and all wedding plans…“
“If you are looking for a simpler island wedding experience or renewal of vows on St John’s Barefoot Minister, Anne Marie Porter, (340-626-4658) can see to all your wedding needs. Or visit her website at www.stjohnweddings.com.“
With 61 years of wedded life, Martin and Rebecca Brooks, seated in the front, were the longest-married couple at Sunday’s vow renewal on St. John. Three couples at Sunday’s Valentine’s Day wedding vow renewal ceremony at Trunk Bay have been married more than 50 years and, of the three, Martin and Rebecca Brooks of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, took first place by quite a few years.
“Fresh air, cigars, and sex. Not necessarily in that order.”
Martin Brooks, 85, said when asked the key to keeping their marriage going for 61 years. His wife Rebecca, 84, suggested that a sense of humor helps…read more
Get married by “St. John’s barefoot minister” Anne Marie Porter
“…giving warm and personalized service to each couple she weds…
Anne Marie holds movie stars and ministers among her newlywed clientele.“
“This beachside ceremony was performed by Anne Marie, a priestess, a woman of the earth, who spoke of sea turtles and other Virgin Islands creatures… it was the perfect moment.”
Modern Bride New York
“If you are planning a wedding or renewing your vows while on St. John, please see Anne Marie Porter with www.stjohnweddings.com. She is awesome. She will help with all your questions and make sure that your ceremony is everything you hoped it would be. Your service will be problem-free and beautiful. She is easy and fun to work with when you are planning your vows. She will listen to your ideas and work to make sure that your ceremony is very special and unique to you. We renewed our vows on Francis Bay last June with Anne Marie performing the service. She made it very special for us. There was a lot of communication and she really listened to what we wanted.“
Written by Jamie Elliot
While Valentine’s Day usually harkens images of happy couples canoodling at lavish restaurants, there are many different ways to celebrate the Christian martyr who smuggled letters to his doomed love. When I lived in Italy, the holiday was a national girls-night-out affair. In New York City we’d usually throw a small dinner party for a few friends. Married couples here in the islands celebrate Valentine’s Day by going to a perennially favorite locale – the beach. But February 14th at Trunk Bay isn’t just another afternoon of fun in the sun.
Since 2003, hundreds of couples have renewed their wedding vows in what has become a cherished tradition on St. John. The V.I. vow renewal was started by Bill and Cathy Dove who were celebrating their own 30th wedding anniversary. The couple thought it would be great to renew their vows for the occasion. Cathy asked her friend, popular wedding officiant Anne Marie Porter, to do the honors.
“It was Cathy’s idea to renew her and Bill’s vows to celebrate their anniversary,” said Porter. “She asked if I would do the ceremony. She also asked if she could invite her church members and if anyone wanted to if they could renew their vows at the same time. I said, ‘why don’t we ask all of St. John to participate?’”
And VI Vow was born. Since then, 550 couples – marking thousands of years of marriage – have gathered at Trunk Bay beach at sunset on February 14th to say “I do,” again.
“It’s the most meaningful way for couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Porter said. “The thing that is so delicious about it is that these couples have done all the work. They understand what the commitment means and they let life’s challenges bring them closer together rather than separate them.”
The urge to look into your loved one’s eyes on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Trunk Bay routinely ranks among the top ten on those lists – and renew your sacred vows proves irresistible for many couples, even ones who have just tied the knot that very morning.
“One year a couple came who I had just married that morning at Hawksnest Beach,” said Porter. “They had heard how great the ceremony is and how beautiful it was at sunset. So they renewed their vows the day they got married.”
Anne Marie gives each couple a certificate of marriage re-affirmation and the ladies are also given long-stem roses. Oh, and it’s all free of charge.
“There’s flute music and it’s just elegant, really,” said Porter. “Everyone there feels the magic.”
Besides Valentine’s Day, Porter marries couples all year long. In her 12-year career, Porter estimates that she has officiated for about 3,000 weddings and vow renewals – as many as five a day – and she still gets excited about each one.
“I don’t get sick of it,” she said. “Every couple is different and every wedding has its own beauty. It’s a joy for me.”
St. John is one of the most popular wedding destination sites in the world, yet Anne Marie – who was termed the island’s barefoot minister by Caribbean Travel and Life magazine – makes each bride feel special.
“I ask what their vision is and what’s in their hearts,” she said. “It’s24 s usually about keeping it simple – barefoot at the beach, no demands, no family expectations, no production. Just a soft, simple, meaningful service. It’s really about them. My intention is to be a channel of blessing for each couple – whatever that means to them.”
Anne Marie claims to never have had a “bridezilla” – or a “groomzilla” for that matter – on her hands. Coming from this calm woman with an excited smile and a sparkle in her eyes, you know she’s not just saying it.
“To be with people when their hearts are open in one of the most beautiful places in the world, it’s a fabulous way to make a living,” she said.
Not bad work if you can get it. Anne Marie presides over vow renewals all year as well, not just Valentine’s Day.
“I always promote couples renewing their vows,” said Porter. “I say make your vacation a honeymoon and remarry your mate. As fantastic as St. John is, it’s something that makes a vacation even better.”
St. John: Thirty Years Ago Anne Marie Porter
By Crystal Bray
Sept 12 – Oct 16, ’07 issue
Anne Marie Porter is one of the reasons St. John is known widely as Love City. Over the past ten years, she has become the go-to girl for performing wedding ceremonies on-island the, and it is due in large part to her efforts that St. John has blossomed into a major wedding destination. For those who have attended ceremonies she’s performed, it’s easy to see why she’s so sought-after. With the perfect blend of sincerity, solemnity, humor, and reverence, she helps usher couples into the horizon of their new lives together. Clearly, she loves her chosen vocation (which she would refer to as her “blessing”). I recently attended the wedding of a lovely local couple way out on East End that Anne Marie officiated. Adorned in her signature white butterfly stole, she spoke to my friends as though they were her old friends, spreading her arms wide to symbolically envelop the new union, a smile on her face, her mellifluous voice alternating between addressing those gathered in witness, and lowering to a more intimate volume to share words with the couple alone.
When it comes to Anne Marie and St. John, the island that she has called home since 1979, it’s difficult to imagine one without the other. She seems perfectly suited to St. John as if one cannot tell whether the island-shaped the woman or the other way around. After speaking with Anne Marie on this topic, it seems clear that each has found a perfect fit for one another.
As we arranged ourselves on a picnic table at the pavilion at Trunk Bay, deserted as the late afternoon shadows called beachgoers on to other adventures, we fell into a conversation about the importance of learning to focus on the present, of, what Ram Dass termed, being here now. St. John seems to be a good place in which to live this way. There are a lot of pretty zen folks here. After all, aren’t we “all here ‘cuz we’re not all there?” St. John is one of the few remaining Western havens for dharma bums. Although I doubt Anne Marie would refer to herself by such Kerouakian standards, she is most certainly zen. Serene and open, she embodies this landscape of clear blue water, lush green hills, white sand.
The 1970s found Anne Marie in Connecticut, where she had relocated from her birthplace of Raleigh, North Carolina after graduating from college. She managed her own business there, a wellness center for women, where she taught workshops such as “Nourishing Ourselves: From Food to Relationships,” and “Creating the Reality That You Want,” (a workshop she’s since led for the Omega Institute on St. John). In November of 1979, she decided to accept an interesting offer to travel. “I was sailing with some friends who were delivering a yacht from Connecticut to Martinique,” she explained, inhaling deeply from a vial of lavender essential oil before passing it across to for me to enjoy as well. Opening her eyes and smiling widely, she continued “but I never made it past St. John.” After two solid weeks at sea, the boat made its first stop in St. Thomas to re-provision. Intended as an overnight stop before the journey on down-island, it was the first time Anne Marie had seen the island, as well as the first time she’d glimpsed land in two weeks. She decided to stretch her sea legs and go exploring to seek out what the new place had to offer. “We were planning on leaving first thing the next morning, so I found a cabbie and asked him what he thought I should do with my time there. He said ‘Go to St. John.’ So he dropped me off at the Red Hook ferry.”
Soon, Anne Marie stepped off the ferry and onto the St. John dock, at the time “just a little cement ramp with a tiny wooden customs shack up on stilts. The park in Cruz Bay was just a grassy knoll.” Many people would have taken a tour, appreciated the place for an afternoon, and continued on with their laid plans. Anne Marie did not.
“It was divine, perhaps, or destiny,” she mused, thinking back, “It wasn’t a conscious destination but it felt like home as soon as I stepped off the boat. I think it’s a blessing to be able to ever find St. John and the spirit that’s here. And that’s exactly what happened to me. It wasn’t that I was traveling to St. John, I was just traveling, sailing with friends on a yacht delivery to Martinique.”
Though she may not have been looking for a home, Anne Marie found one on that day in November. She instructed the cabbie to “take me to the least expensive place to stay,” and he dropped her off at Maho Bay Campground. She rented a tent for a week and returned to St. Thomas to bid bon voyage to her friends.
“And then, obviously, I had to go back and tell my friends that I wouldn’t be going with them. So, they took off and I came back here,” she says, matter-of-factly. A little stunned, my first response is to ask her if she was scared. “No,” came her instantaneous reply, “I’d also moved to Connecticut, where I didn’t know a soul, so I’d had a sense of…I don’t know…adventure. No fear leaving North Carolina, no fear leaving Connecticut, no fear staying on St. John.” And just like that, she changed her entire life and adopted a little speck on the edge of the Caribbean sea as her home.
Well now, as the writer, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, skipping the best part as it were. What happened after she said goodbye to her only contacts and made her way back to Maho to spend her first week was the thing that happens in any romantic story worth its proverbial salt: she met someone. “During that week, I fell in love,” Anne Marie says, beaming. “He was a lovely young man who was working and living at Maho Bay. He had come for a week’s vacation as well and had connected with his heart to the place. So, it was falling in love with him that made me stay for a month at Maho Camps, rather than a week, and was my reason for moving here. I moved here full time in 1980.”
Who knows if she would’ve stayed had she not fallen hard? Perhaps she would have. But it’s just so fitting a beginning, considering what Anne Marie has become to St. John, that she came here with an open heart and found love the first week. After her first month was up, she returned to Connecticut to collect her things and tie up loose ends to begin her life on-island. Her Romeo did his part from St. John to ensure she was, as they say, “gone to come back.”
“By the time I moved back, he rented us a little house in Coral Bay, next to where Shipwreck Landing is now. He wanted to make sure I would come back. I wasn’t going to live in a tent forever,” she laughs. “And our landlord, the lovely Miss Anesta Sewer, who was our teacher and friend, a great herbalist and a great woman, lived right next door.”
Soon, she began working at Islandia Boutique, a store owned by Inga Hiilivirta, and which Anne Marie describes as a “delicious, sweet little shop.” She worked many different jobs over the years, from a waitress at Mongoose Restaurant to an original Luscious Licker (don’t worry, for those who don’t know, it was Bonny Corbeil’s health food store). But she found her calling around ten or twelve years ago when she was asked to perform a friends’ commitment ceremony. She accepted the honor and soon agreed to perform other ceremonies for her friends, weddings, and commitment ceremonies as well as child-naming ceremonies. Before long, her talents were noticed by some higher-ups at Caneel Bay, and she began performing services there as well. When I ask her if she feels she’s found her calling, she replies, “I think my whole life got me ready to do this work. And it’s a great blessing to be able to be with such a wide variety of people from all over the world when their hearts are wide open. I’m not affiliated with any religion, dogma, or political party. I just create ceremonies based on the couple. I always ask them if they’re affiliated with anything that they would like honored. Whatever they are, I’m here to honor their commitment. It’s not about me. I want to be a channel of blessing for them.”
Her talents have won her a lot of good publicity, which has fueled the ascendance of St. John as a wedding destination. Anne Marie pulls a book from her satchel and flips it open to show me a page with two facing pictures. The first shows her marrying a smiling couple on the beach. The photo next to it captures her with the same couple, still smiling, still on the beach, a few years older, and holding their first-born child who has just been baptized. “And since then, I’ve baptized their second child,” she says with a proud, happy laugh.
Anne Marie feels very lucky to be able to do what she loves. Through her work, she acknowledges, manifests, and creates more love in a world that needs as much as it can get. When I ask her what provides the same energy for her, she responds with a cause close to her heart: animals. “The thing that has been the most heart-nurturing for me is that more and more people are concerned with protecting and respecting the animal population on St. John. It’s been very inspirational and joyful to me in my time here that people have become more aware of how really important it is to love and respect animals. They’re our divine teachers in fursuits. They give us unconditional love. That has helped me be able to stay here.”
She hands me a bumper sticker bearing the words “BE KIND” and in smaller type, “In memory of Louise and Buddy.” This sticker is affixed to many vehicles around St. John and it is an homage to Anne Marie’s beloved dogs who were killed by a neighbor. Rather than being bitter, she has become proactive in her efforts to spread awareness of animal cruelty, to educate younger generations about it, and to help foster in others her deep love of all animals. “The message,” she explains, “is to be kind to animals but also to be kind to each other. Because it’s all connected. Fortunately, there are a lot of people here who are committed to their spiritual growth.”
Anne Marie has weathered her share of storms here–real, emotional, and spiritual–but she has never contemplated leaving. “This has always been my heart’s home,” she says definitively, “and I never said ‘I’m going to leave.’ And I never left. The only time I’ve been away was to teach at the Living Food Institute in Puerto Rico. But I still had my little hovel in Coral Bay that I rented from Miss Anesta. I never moved away.” And, it’s clear that she never will. “For me,” she explains, “it’s always been the extraordinary physical beauty of the place and the goodness of the people that were here and that is still here.”
It is very important for her to feel close to nature, and she currently makes her home tucked up on Bordeaux Mountain, where she lives “in a treehouse.” She claims it’s so open that the sugarbirds actually nest inside! “I live in a birdhouse!” she says, “I’m up in the woods and it’s very remote. I’m right there in nature.” Communing with the natural world around her, Anne Marie is comfortable and content in her home. “I think that wherever you go, you will learn your lessons. Wherever I chose to go during these last thirty years of my life, I would have had to deal with relationships, finances, childhood wounds, etcetera. I’m just dealing with mine in a place where it’s always summer, in a place where it’s beautiful.”
We gaze up at the rustling trees as the afternoon light warms our skin and the sound of the waves soothes our ears, and I understand exactly what she means. St. John isn’t always perfect, but it’s terrifically close; our physical location doesn’t change our past experiences or heal our wounds, but if we chose the right place it can help change our outlook and facilitate our growth. Look around, and tell me you don’t feel lucky.
A quick glance at her cell phone tells her that it’s nearly time to meet up with the couple she will be marrying on the beach that evening, and she dashes off, parasol in hand, to greet them. I follow closely on her heels and we introduce ourselves to Sean and Jessica, a beautiful couple dressed with simple elegance for their quiet nuptials. Anne Marie immediately makes them feel at ease, chatting with them about Trunk Bay, asking them questions, and smiling at them as she leads them down the beach and into their new life together. I am the sole witness to the intimate ceremony and act as an impromptu wedding photographer. I’ve never attended a service Anne Marie has performed without getting teary, and this one is no exception. You can always feel the sincerity in her words, and the beauty of what the ceremony means is always immediate. As I look on, she faces the couple toward the water. Their forms are lit by the sinking sun as it paints the waves orange and pink. As she speaks, Anne Marie raises her arms behind them. Lightly touching their backs, she connects and envelops them as they gaze out over the endless water, looking out on their future, full of love.
Pairs Of Hearts Hold Winning Hands At Vow Renewal
by Lynda Lohr
Feb. 14, 2009 — “Today when you say ‘I do,'” said the minister, “it’s with a lot more information.” St. John snowbirds John and Barbara Achzet got the honors for being married the longest — 61 years — at the 7th annual Valentine’s Day vow renewal ceremony at Trunk Bay Beach.
A total of 67 couples, from the Achzets to a pair married that day, joined hands and hearts at the ceremony, presided over by non-denominational minister Anne Marie Porter. Love was in the air, as organizer Cathy Dove urged the couples to say those three little words regularly.
“We need to take that time every day,” she said……read more
I do, I do, I do …
Married couples renew vows beachside on St. John
By LYNN FREEHILL
Friday, February 15th, 2008
I do, I do, I do …
Married couples renew vows beachside on St. John
Daily News Photo by Nick Schneeman.
Jack and Barbara Yellen and Arthur and Judi Rosenthal pour champagne after renewing their vows.
ST. JOHN – Love was on the lips of 95 married couples who renewed their devotion the island way on Valentine’s Day: beachside.
For the sixth year in a row, Trunk Bay hosted a poignant “Celebration of Love” vow renewal ceremony at sunset. The event is organized annually by the Dove family and presided over by the Rev. Anne Marie Porter as a way to honor the commitment, sacrifice, and beauty that marriages entail.
The pairs represented a collective 2,065 years of marriage – and 60 of those years belonged to one couple, Barbara and John Achzet of St. John. As the group clustered in a semicircle, Barbara Achzet beamed and pumped her fist in the air as the length of her marriage was announced, and everyone cheered.
Not far behind in duration were Bob and Nancy Barlow of St. John, at 57 years together. They renewed their vows Thursday for the fifth time. “It’s very romantic and brings back lots of happy memories – lots and lots,” Bob said.
This year, the Barlows’ son, Greg, also renewed his vows with Cheryl, his wife of precisely “three years, seven months, and 25 days.”
Greg, who lives in Maryland, said he was inspired by his parents’ marital philosophy: sharing. “You’re in it together and you do things as a team,” he said. The younger couple said their goal wasn’t necessarily to match the elder Barlows in the length of the marriage, however – to accomplish that, they would have to live to be 105.
Wives arrived wearing everything from an original, 30-year-old wedding dress to a bikini. Hand-in-hand with their husbands, many strolled to the beach to the bright notes of David Banzhof’s flute, then kicked off their shoes on the sand.
Vocalist Shikima Jones sang “What a Wonderful World” as the ceremony opened, inviting the participants to join in on the signature lines.
Porter opened to chuckles from many when she said, “Today when you say I do, it’s with a lot more information than the first time.”
The couples took deep, relaxing breaths as she instructed them to “focus on this sacred moment,” then to turn and face each other. Some had tears in their eyes as they gazed, while others bent in to rest their noses and foreheads together.
Then, as the sun sank behind Peace Hill, the couples said “I do” once again, pledging to love, honor, comfort, and keep each other for life. Afterward, Porter asked them to step toward the water’s edge as she bestowed an island blessing.
Celebration and cheering followed. Judi and Arthur Rosenthal and Barbara and Jack Yellen, a set of friends from St. Thomas, were all smiles as they popped open a bottle of Champagne they had brought along.
Judi and Arthur remembered how they had met and dated in eighth grade when they both had braces. “Everyone was afraid we would hook them together,” he said. And Barbara and Jack had decided to get married on their second date.
The secret to the Rosenthals’ 40 years of marriage and the Yellens’ 49, they all agreed, was humor. “We have words every so often,” Jack said, jokingly. “I’m just still waiting to use mine.”
On. St. Croix, Capt. John Macy led a vow renewal ceremony at the Carambola Beach Resort at sunset Thursday.
Macy, who has been presiding over marriage ceremonies for 21 years, has lead vow renewal ceremonies on Valentine’s Day for several years on St. Croix in an attempt to match the annual vow renewal ceremony on St. John.
Six couples participated in the ceremony, which was complimentary from the Carambola Beach Resort and Macy.
Contact Lynn Freehill at 774-8772 ext. 311 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renew Your Marriage Vows on Valentine’s Day
by Lynda Lohr
Jan. 27, 2009 — Love will be in the air Feb. 14 when local and visiting couples renew their vows at the 7th annual Celebration of Love at Trunk Bay Beach on St. John.
“It’s a wonderful way to honor their relationship and celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Anne Marie Porter said.
Porter and another St. John resident, Kathy Dove, have organized the vow-renewal ceremony for the past six years.
The celebration is free, and Porter said everyone is welcome. It begins at 5 p.m.
Last year 100 couple renewed their vows. Over those six years, 550 couples have participated, representing more than 8,000 years of marriage.
“There’s something powerful about renewing vows with other couples,” Porter said.
The couples are welcomed as they approach Trunk Bay Beach by Michael Banzhaf playing the flute. Lee Morris and Livy Hitchcock will serenade them as they reach the beach.
Porter, who is a non-denominational minister, performs the ceremony. Each woman will receive a rose and couples go home with a certificate to remember the occasion.
St John Source, February 16, 2008
1,900 Years of Marriage: Couples Renew Vows on St. John
by Lynda Lohr
Feb. 14, 2008 — As they have for several years running, St. John snowbirds John and Barbara Achzet took top honors for being married the longest at the sixth annual Celebration of Love Valentine’s Day vow-renewal ceremony Thursday at Trunk Bay, St. John.
They have been married for 60 years. “I can’t believe it myself,” Barbara said.
Another St. John snowbird couples, Nan and Bob Barlow are right behind the Achzets: They’ve celebrated 57 wedding anniversaries. Wearing a Mayan wedding dress she bought on a trip to the Yucatan back in 1972, Barbara said she wouldn’t know what to do without her husband by her side.
A record 95 couples attended the sunset ceremony, said organizer Cathy Dove. That represented about 1,900 years of marriage. Non-denominational minister Anne Marie Porter led the couples in renewing their wedding vows. “Every moment of your lives brought you to this one,” she said, as John waggled his eyebrows at Barbara.
The Achzets attended the ceremony with Webster, N.Y., residents Pat and Ron Seitz. They’ve been married 50 years. When asked why he stayed with his wife all these years, Ron Seitz said, “Well look at her — who’d leave her?” Laughing, he added, “And she isn’t even rich.” They have a lot of fun together, Pat said.
Others offered more serious answers. “I want to reassure Mary that I do love her and am committed to her,” said Gary Crain of Muskegon, Mich., who has been married 15 years. Mary has everything figured out, he said, but he’s still trying to learn. The Seitzes are vacationing at Best Western Emerald Beach Resort on St. Thomas.
Another vacationing couple, Jo and Frank Fachman of Minneapolis, got married 14 years ago on St. Thomas.
“We’re here to remind ourselves,” Frank Fachman said. Carolyn and Rich Sells of Richmond, Va., got married on Valentine’s Day two years ago. After a morning wedding on St. John, they attended the vow-renewal ceremony in their wedding finery. They weren’t quite as dressed up for this year’s ceremony, but the feelings were still the same.
“We keep renewing our vows to recapture that feeling of getting married here,” Carolyn said. “It’s an excellent memory.” Joe and Pam Hudka of Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio, are on St. John for the winter. Married for 39 years, the two said they thought renewing their vows would be a fun thing to do.
While the ceremony brought out lots of vacationers, many local residents also renewed their vows.
“I share such a deep love for my husband,” said St. Thomas resident Judith Savage. She had her husband, Walter, have been married 30 years, Walter. “I thought this moment was right to express my love.”
“The number of destination weddings by Americans nearly tripled in the last decade, with the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica, and the Bahamas accounting for three of the five most popular getaways. “Caribbean weddings are hotter than ever,” says Rebecca Grinnals, president of the Caribbean Wedding Association especially with the recent trend of celebrities – from Tiger Woods to Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck marrying in the region.”
Readers’ Choice Awards
Best of the Caribbean 2005
Eco Resort – Maho Bay St John
Beach – Trunk Bay St John
Adventure Destination – St John
Snorkel Destination – St John
Readers’ Choice Awards
Best of the Caribbean 2006
Eco Resort – Maho Bay St John
Snorkel Destination – St John
Readers’ Choice Awards
Best of the Caribbean 2007
Maho Bay St John and Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds
Best Island for Celeb Spotting