There was no time to get a photographer or even a wedding dress when Royce King and his wife Frankie were married in their whirlwind, a two-day vacation in 1944, before going overseas to fight in World War II.
Seventy-seven years later, the Iowa couple has finally appreciated some beautiful wedding photos.
Royce, 98, and Frankie, 97, celebrated a special 77th anniversary on September 16 thanks to the St. Croix Hospice staff who cared for the couple at the Kings’ House in Oelwein, Iowa.
They found a dress from 1940s vintage bride to Frankie, and Royce was wearing their Air Force uniform when they held an anniversary party in their backyard on a beautiful sunny day. The patio flowers became a bouquet for Frankie, and a St. Croix music therapist played some 1940s standards as Frankie walked down the “hall.”
“How can you not have overwhelming emotions?” Heath Bartness, CEO of St. Croix Hospice, said TODAY. “The bond that makes you feel like you are part of it, and to think about what the first time in WWII was like, and how meaningful and emotional that second chance to do it was. There’s an overwhelming feeling.” Proud not only of the company and what the organization has done, but even more of an act of humanity. ”
Hilary Michelson, a St. Croix employee who is also a professional photographer, has moving scenes in several beautiful scenes. The couple’s daughter, Sue Bilodeau, who lives in California, was in the area to attend the impromptu ceremony.
“It was very emotional, very comforting,” said Bilodeau TODAY. “I couldn’t stop smiling and I couldn’t stop being so happy for both of us, especially for Mom in her wedding dress that looks so beautiful.”
They also took a “first look” by placing a handkerchief over Royce’s eyes and then escorting Frankie in front of him.
“They said, ‘Are you ready to see your girlfriend?” And she took the blindfold off her, “Bilodeau said.” She had the biggest smile for the rest of the day. She was amazing. ”
“I had the honor of snapping some photos for their 77th wedding anniversary,” Michelson wrote on Facebook. “Absolutely no shame in the fact that I had a hard time keeping it together behind the lens.”
It was long overdue for the couple, who got married in a church back in 1944 and were not able to get pictures of the ceremony.
“We always knew that, and we had so many other pictures because they had dated since high school, but they never had any formal wedding pictures,” Bilodeau said.
The couple still live in the home where they raised Bilodeau and her brother. Last month’s ceremony showed the spark is still there for the two after all these years.
“In fact, when they said ‘you may kiss the bride,’ when he gave her a kiss, we all commented, ‘That was quite a long kiss,'” Bilodeau said while laughing.
Bilodeau is grateful to the St. Croix staff for bringing a day together that his family will not soon forget. They also made a special wedding cake with a pair of 7s so that the couple could have the traditional moment of cutting the cake together.
“It was kind of spontaneous and it really is the best path for her right now,” Bilodeau said. “I didn’t know they were planning this anyway until I headed to Iowa.
“ They were so excited and honored that St. Croix was doing this for them. They loved being the center of attention, especially Dad, and Mom was so happy to put on a dress and be beautiful. I think they were overwhelmed all day. ”
“With hospice, we always talk about joining in someone’s journey,” Bartness said. “Sometimes you get to create new memories at this stage, and that’s what’s really cool and special.”
Several staff members from St. Croix were able to be there in person after rearranging their schedules to witness the sweet moment.
“We can’t thank them enough,” Bilodeau said. “It was wonderful and long overdue. I just got done printing up a photo album, so it will be in the mail and now they will finally have their wedding photos