By Maddy Vitale
Marianne Scullin had everything: a gold corsage from her daughter’s wedding, a blue hair accessory from her granddaughter and even her husband’s lucky penny.
She was ready for her second, big day, when she was to renew her wedding vows to her husband of nearly 29 years, Kevin Scullin.
She even brought along her best friend, Rene Lipinski, of Villas, who, of course, acted as the maid of honor.
Before the mass wedding renewal ceremony, officiated by Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio, began Saturday, the Scullins, of Sea Isle, and other lovebirds, spoke about their devotion to each other and their ties to the community.
“It is a fairy tale story. We knew each other as kids,” Marianne Scullin said. “We reconnected at a North Wildwood lifeguard reunion in 1988. Nine months later we were married.”
In all, nearly 80 couples renewed their vows at the former school on Park Road and 46th Street. Couples recited their renewed wedding vows in unison. And for the wedding dance? Only the romantic crooner Frank Sinatra would do for this crowd. His hit, “Summer Wind,” filled the gymnasium, as couples danced close, sneaking kisses here and there.
Couples married 65 years down to newlyweds re-upped their nuptials in the lively, upbeat event, ably led by Desiderio who joked with the crowd.
The secret to a long-lasting marriage?
Two couples, who each have two children and three grandchildren, homes in Sea Isle, and have been married about 40 years, had similar ideas for the recipe to a long and happy marriage – or at least what makes the wife happy.
“Do what your wife says,” said Doug Williamson.
At that, Sue Williamson just laughed.
Pat Milburn said you have to have a good sense of humor.
Her husband, Ray Milburn, said it comes down to this: “Don’t be so stubborn. Be willing to give in.”
The Milburns said when they heard about the wedding vow renewal ceremony they had to be a part of it.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Ray Milburn said.
“We thought it would be fun to do – especially after 40 years of marriage,” Pat Milburn noted.
The mayor said it was all thanks to resident Don Laricks for coming up with the idea for a renewal ceremony for residents.
“It was Don’s idea because he realized so many people meet and fall in love in Sea Isle,” Desiderio said.
The mayor expanded the ceremony to include anyone with ties to or met in the community.
Desiderio thanked the couples, joking that they were pulled away from a routine to-do list for the ceremony, which was met by chuckles.
He said they chose to renew their vows and express that Sea Isle holds a special place in their hearts.
“Whether you met at a nightclub, restaurant or the beach, one way or another, you were together here,” Desiderio noted. “You were together here, and it made your hearts skip a beat and changed your lives forever.”
Amy and Owen O’Connell, of Philadelphia, found out about the ceremony and couldn’t wait to be a part of it.
“My mom forwarded me the information and we got so excited,” Amy O’Connell said, while holding a bouquet from her bridal shower. “We loved our wedding so much. We wanted to get married again. We would renew our vows every year here if we could.”
Amy O’Connell’s family has vacationed in Sea Isle for years. They love the community so much the young couple even got married at a Sea Isle restaurant, Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, in 2016.
When it comes to withstanding the test of time, Louise and Edwin Kremmelbein, of Huntingdon, New York, married for 57 years, and Joann and Jim Collins, of Claymont, Delaware, together for 54 years, likely beat out the rest of the couples who filled the gym.
The wives have been friends since childhood and grew up vacationing in Sea Isle.
But it wasn’t the happy couples’ idea to renew their vows.
The kids gave them the push, explained Louise Rastu, the daughter of the Kremmelbeins.
“We told them to get down to Sea Isle for a family reunion,” Rastu said, laughing.
She and Denise Collins, the daughter of Joann and Jim Collins, said they are all so close and it was a perfect and special way for them to celebrate their love and friendship.
The Kremmelbeins and Collins couples even held hands with each other through the ceremony.
While this was the first large wedding renewal ceremony in the city, the mayor said he hopes it is not the last.
Desiderio told the crowd at the end of the nuptials that because the ceremony was so well-attended and enjoyed by all, he hopes to make it an annual community tradition.
That would be wonderful for the O’Connells and the Scullins, who said they would like to make it their family traditions.
“I hope they do it again next year,” Marianne Scullin said. “We would definitely be back.”