They said “I do” at their wedding. They repeated the promise on their 25th wedding anniversary. Their 35th and 60th anniversaries brought the same vow. And on Saturday, June 21 — after 66 years of marriage — Art and Virginia Engberg gave their lives to each other yet again, this time with eight other couples doing the same.
The vow renewal festivities in Atria Compana del Rio, a retirement community at 1550 E. River Road, began the previous evening with a rehearsal dinner. One couple reportedly announced, jokingly, that they’d be absent in the morning because they had recently eloped.
One man, who was looking forward to becoming a once-again bridegroom, found himself in the hospital the week before the ceremony. When he returned home, he reportedly said, “Yep, I made it back for my big day.”
“They were actually getting a little nervous and excited,” said Darlene Gregg, the activities director. “Some were not sure what they were wearing was going to be OK.”
In previous years, the retirement community has celebrated June Brides Month, during which residents pulled out their old wedding pictures so other residents could guess who was who.
The Engbergs — who first said “I do” during the Depression in Burlington, Iowa, at 7 a.m. so their invited guests could protect their jobs — said Saturday that the ceremony still held meaning for them.
“It was just like the first time,” the once-again bridegroom claimed.
“I’m glad I was here,” the once-again bride said. “You never know.”
According to a press release, the couples who had planned to participate in the vow renewal ceremony have racked up a total of 600 years of married life among them.