When Royce King and Frankie King got married in 1944, they didn’t have time to snap wedding photos.
Frankie didn’t even wear a bridal gown because the ceremony was held on Royce’s whirlwind, two-day leave before he went overseas to fight in the Second World War.
Seventy-seven years later, Royce, 98, and Frankie, 97, finally have beautiful wedding photos to hold dear, thanks to the efforts of the staff at St. Croix Hospice. Workers at the hospice help care for the Kings at their home in Oelwein, Iowa.
For their 77th anniversary, the staff arranged a special anniversary celebration for the couple in their backyard. They found a vintage 1940s bridal gown for Frankie while Royce wore his Air Force uniform. Luckily for everyone involved, it was a beautiful sunny day on September 16.
Flowers from the patio were made into a bouquet, and a music therapist from St. Croix played some 1940s classics while Frankie walked down the “aisle.”
Hilary Michelson, a St. Croix Hospice employee and professional photographer, captured the heartwarming moments of the ceremony in a series of photos that now make up the couple’s wedding album.
“I had the honor of snapping some photos for their 77th wedding anniversary. Absolutely no shame in the fact that I had a hard time keeping it together behind the lens,” Michelson wrote on Facebook.
Sue Bilodeau, the Kings’ daughter who lives in California, happened to be in the area and witnessed the impromptu event.
“It was very emotional, very heartwarming,” she told TODAY. “I couldn’t stop smiling, and I couldn’t stop being so happy for both of them, especially mom in her wedding gown looking so beautiful.”
They also made sure to do a ““first look,” where they put a handkerchief over Royce’s eyes and had Frankie stand in front of him. When they took the blindfold off, the groom had the biggest smile on his face, which he wore the rest of the day.
Bilodeau said her parents had so many other pictures because they had dated since high school, but they had no formal wedding photos to show.
The Kings still live in the home where they raised Bilodeau and her brother. Last month’s ceremony proved that there is still a spark in their relationship, as evidenced by their very, very long kiss.
St. Croix staff also baked a special wedding cake so the couple could experience the traditional moment where newlyweds cut the cake together.
“They were just very excited and honored that St. Croix would do that for them. They liked to be in the limelight, dad especially, and mom was so happy to put on a gown and be beautiful. I think they were just overwhelmed at the whole day,” Bilodeau said.
Several St. Croix Hospice staff members were able to witness the ceremony in person after rearranging their schedules to be there.
St. Croix Hospice CEO Heath Bartness told TODAY:
“How can you not have a sense of overwhelming emotion? The connectivity you almost feel that you were a part of this, and thinking back to what it was like in World War II the first time, and how meaningful and how emotional this second opportunity to do this was. There’s an overwhelming sense of pride in not just the company and what the organization did, but more so just as an act of humanity.”
People who saw the photos on Facebook sent messages of congratulations to the couple.
“You look amazing!!! Congratulations on your wedding anniversary!!” one commented.
“She looks gorgeous and ao happy!! It’s never too late to do something that makes you happy!!! Love it!!!” another wrote.
“What a beautiful tribute to a very dear couple who have been faithful for 77 yrs. That is incredible,” said one.
This story proves that if you take care of things, they last—just like what Royce and Frankie did with their love.
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