Sunlight streamed through the large windows in the Grand Ballroom of the Coral House between Baldwin and Freeport on Valentine’s Day, and the tables, walls and ceilings were festooned with bright red balloons and streamers as hundreds of couples from across Nassau County gathered to renew their wedding vows.
One very prominent Baldwinite — new Nassau County Executive Laura Curran — officiated at the ceremony. “It’s a really exciting day,” Curran said. “I’m so happy to be a part of this. It’s a real honor.”
The free event, which was sponsored by the Coral House, provided some 250 married couples —many of whom have been together for more than 50 years—an opportunity to renew their wedding vows and honor their marriage.
“Today is a day of love,” said Butch Yamali, of Merrick, the Coral House owner. “There’s so many milestones in this room. People have been married for so many years, and we’re so proud to host [this event]. Hopefully [they’ll] have a great time dancing and just being together, and being a part of our community.”
The couples were invited to stay for lunch and wedding cake, had the opportunity to take professional wedding photos and enjoyed live music from the band Our Generation, which played a collection of love songs from the 1960s and ’70s.
“I think this is my favorite day so far in my new job,” Curran remarked. “What a treat to be able to officiate the renewing of the vows. I’ve had a chance to speak to some couples. One couple has actually been married for as long as 65 years.”
She performed one mass marriage renewal ceremony. The couples stood hand in hand as they exchanged rings and kissed.
“I’ve been married [for] 20 years, so it gives me hope,” Curran said.
“They do a great job at the Coral House and we love it, we come here every year,” said Hank Kiesche, an Oceanside resident who’s been married for 56 years to his wife, Patricia. He said Curran did an excellent job officiating — her first time doing so.
Robert and Audrey Bohnenberger, of East Meadow, have been married for 65 years. They have been coming to the Coral House’s ceremony for 12 years.
“It’s very nice that we get to go. We’ve been coming here for many years,” Audrey said.
“It was a good program,” Robert said, jokingly adding that Curran “is a nice lady… even though she’s a Democrat.”
Audrey said staying married for 65 years boils down to patience and good fortune. “You’re lucky you found the right person, and you’re lucky you can accept each other’s faults and good points,” she said.
“This is a great day to renew your vows, to show that you love each other and just to do those sweet kindnesses [for] each other,” Curran said.
“I have one small instruction for you,” she told attendees. “All the love that’s in this room, when we go back out into the world, let’s bring that with us out there and share it with the rest of the world.”