First and foremost, Happy Valentine’s Day! As many of you know, today’s the day that dozens of couples will head over to Trunk Bay for the annual Celebration of Love vow renewal ceremony. This free ceremony starts at 5 p.m. so head on over and take part.
We wanted to celebrate a few St. John couples ourselves this Valentine’s Day. As you may remember, we put out a call last week for couples who were married on the island. We received a tremendous response and quite a few interesting stories. Here is a small sampling of what we received:
Skip and Chriss Benvie, Married June 9, 1985 at Maho Bay Camps
“My wife and I were high school sweethearts but drifted apart during our college years,” Skip said. “I ended up on St. John; (my wife) Chriss (White) moved to San Diego. I arrived on St. John in February 1982 on a 10 day vacation visiting friends and managed to talk the Maho manager into hiring me as a maintenance man to finish out the winter season. Summer of ‘82 I was kept on and he allowed me to rent out a sunfish that was on loan to me. The beach concession grew considerably over time. (I eventually bought the sunfish.) Summer of ‘83 Chriss came to visit me and the spark was reignited. She moved from San Diego to spend the winter of 83-84 with me to see how things would work out. She started out working at the clinic (she’s a nurse) and ended up working with me on the beach.
“By 1984 we had sunfish, windsurfers, chairs, floats and snorkel gear, and decided to take out a loan to purchase ‘Perstare’ (from Latin, to persevere), a Morgan 34 that was already part of the day sail fleet out of Maho. I took guests out sailing and Chriss taught windsurfing and rented out the beach toys. We married at the Maho Bay Camps Pavilion in June of ’85 and honeymooned on my new mother-in-laws roll out couch in Holbrook MA, south of Boston where we grew up. In ’86 we purchased a lot with a nice view in Coral Bay for $42,000 with owner financing. By ’89 we grew tired of the beach toy business and sold it and day sailed together. Fall of ‘89 hurricane Hugo blew Maho apart and we took on temporary jobs helping to put it back together. Fall of 1990 we found out that we were going to have a baby daughter and put the day sail business up for sale. By this time Chriss was the controller at Maho and in May of 1991 I was offered a job as Asst. G.M.
“Fast forward to 1999 and a son, a new house and few more hurricanes, and I was VP/COO by the time we left. I worked in Bermuda as the project manager for construction of Daniel’s Head Village and was there until the summer of 2001 when it opened. It was modeled after Maho Bay but had many operational problems and eventually closed. It is now undergoing upgrading into a cottage colony with timeshares.
“After Bermuda we moved to the Mass. south coast to be near our families and for our children’s education. I work as a housing developer for a nonprofit agency, the Corporation for Independent Living, creating group homes for people with disabilities. Chriss is a nurse at student health services at Brown University in Providence. Our daughter Emily is a planner for Humboldt County in CA; our son is a sophomore at U Mass Amherst. Sadly, Perstare burned to the waterline a couple of years ago in Coral Bay. We remain happily married.”
Missy and Luke Stevens, Married November 1, 1997 at Caneel:
“My grandmother always told me it was the most beautiful place on Earth, “Missy said of her decision to marry on St. John, “and from what I have seen so far, she is right. My parents have been back at least once a year every year since and we have been back about half that!
“My husband’s name is Luke. We were married at Caneel (before they even had a ‘wedding planner.’) This picture is at Turtle Bay Point. Even though we had never been to St. John before this, my grandmother always told me it was the most beautiful place on Earth! We trusted her advice and booked the wedding. All the arrangements were made via phone and fax. It was truly amazing! And definitely one of the most beautiful places I have seen!”
Shana and Jeremy Horseman, Married October 12, 2012
“We had 28 family members and friends come to the island,” Shana said. “We planned everything from Kansas City which people thought was crazy because I had never been to St. John. We had a pastor start the small ceremony with a prayer and then my husbands best friend and best man (Will) walked up and took over. We hadn’t told our guests that Will had gotten ordained and even had his paperwork notarized at the courthouse in St. Thomas so it was a big surprise. I met my husband and Will at 14 and then 14 years later after many years as friends or out of contact, we were getting married on the most beautiful island on earth.”
Here are a more couples (and News of St. John readers) who’ve exchanged vows in Love City:
- Gary Smith, 1985
- Mary Brockway and Richard Ruggiero, May 20, 2000 by Anne Marie Porter on the great veranda of villa 2B Peter Bay overlooking Peter Bay Beach. “We had our wedding moon on St. John with 32 friends and relatives who stayed at 5 villas from May 12 till May 25. We have made over 30 trips to St. John since our first visit in January 1996.”
- Rodney Butcher, July 1, 2001 at The Beach Estate in Cruz Bay
- Patricia Hurley, May 1, 2002 at Trunk Bay. She got engaged at the Rhone
- Tom Pelton, 2003
- Jen and Kurt Kavanaugh, January 28, 2004 at Cinnamon Bay “by the lively Anne Marie,” they said.
- Larry and Laura Ruggiero, July 10, 2004 at Trunk Bay
- Ashley Stinson, July 9, 2005 at Trunk Bay
- Karen and Bill Sims, July 29, 2005 at the Westin
- Kelli Mackay and John Murphy, July 31, 2005 at Cinnamon Bay. “Sunset – sandcastles – Anne Marie – just beautiful,” they said.
- Amanda and Kanwa Nzambi, October 20, 2006 at Hawksnest with a reception afterward for 70 at the Westin.
- Belinda Messersmith Hodgson, March 21, 2007 at Hawksnest with Ann Marie Porter “Fabulous!”
- Gita and Jon Bafundi, November 12, 2008 at Hawksnet
- Jacy Robinson, June 13, 2009 at Hawksnest. “Best wedding we have ever attended,” they said.
- Colin and Valerie Cunningham, July 3, 2009 at Cinnamon Bay with a reception afterward at Waterfront Bistro. “Everything was amazing!”
- Mindy and Eugene Brady, September 12, 2009 at Trunk Bay
- Kathie Swanson’s son married Cat in April 2011 at Trunk Bay.
- Amber and Danny Peterson, June 6, 2011 at Trunk Bay
- Lee and Sabrina Manto, August 8, 2011 at Trunk Bay
- Lynn Benfante, October 21, 2011 at the Westin with 80 guests.
- Carol Rocco, April 15, 2012 at Siempre Azul, Friis Bay
- Hannah and Matthew Fros, July 6, 2012 at Hawksnest
- Kaitlin Burt, June 8, 2013 at Cinnamon Bay
- Tim and Amber Mayo, August 7, 2013 at Trunk Bay
- Alisse and Dan Wilkey , March 1, 2013
- Donna Krieder, October 22, 2013 at Trunk Bay
- Brittany MacNealy, November 2013
- Alison Sullivan Schaefer, January 6, 2014 at Kalorama Villa
- Amy and Derek Page, January 26, 2014 at Trunk Bay
Ahh, Love City at its finest. xoxoxo