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77 years later, she renews her wedding vows … this time with a dress

Frankie & Royce wedding

St. Croix Hospice

Lauriane Vofo Kana - published on 10/27/21

Back in 1944 they married with just two days' notice. This time they finally had the chance to plan the details.

The excitement, the joy and their loving eyes: almost nothing has changed since the day Frankie and Royce King said “I do” 77 years ago. But there was something special about this wedding anniversary. For the renewal of their vows, the couple, who live in Oelwein, Iowa, were able to relive their wedding day in full dress.

Indeed, when the young lovebirds put the rings on their fingers on September 16, 1944, the ceremony was very quick, on just two days’ notice. There was no wedding gown and no big celebration to mark the event. There was a good reason: the wedding had been organized in a hurry because Royce, an air force officer, was being mobilized to fight in the Second World War.

“He was stationed as a lieutenant in the Air Force … he just got his pilot wings. He got a short leave. They had been engaged about six months, so they decided to have a wedding before he was deployed overseas,” their daughter Sue Bilodeau told CBS News. She also told the Des Moines Register what her mother had explained, “We didn’t have time to plan a big wedding and we didn’t have a photographer.”

More than half a century later, the nonagenarian couple now live at home with assistance of St. Croix Hospice, and the staff recently asked them where their wedding photos were. When Royce and Frankie explained that they had none, the hospice team decided to help them mark this anniversary in a memorable way. During a small ceremony, with music from the 1940s, the bride and groom reconfirmed their love, this time with a proper wedding dress—and a photographer.

Royce waited outside with a blindfold over his eyes while his wife approached in her white gown. When they uncovered his eyes, “he just gazed at her and just beamed. They both did. It was very sweet,” Bilodeau told CBS News.

The story got picked up by a variety of media outlets, as the couple’s beautiful love, captured in the photos, moved hearts everywhere. Bilodeau told the Des Moines Register that a reporter at the wedding asked the couple what they considered the best thing about being married for 77 years. “Dad said, ‘Having Frankie by my side …’ and mom said, ‘As my dad used to say, I always think about this little saying: Lord, give me patience and give it to me now.’”

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