- When Royce and Frankie King wed in 1944, they didn’t have time to plan a big wedding or take photos.
- To celebrate the couple’s 77th anniversary, hospice workers in Iowa recreated their big day and took heartwarming photos.
- The couple wore wedding outfits, cut a cake, and even did a “first look.”
There was no time to get a photographer or even a wedding gown when Royce King and his wife, Frankie, got married on his whirlwind, two-day leave in 1944 before he went overseas to fight in World War II.
Seventy-seven years later, the couple from Iowa finally have some beautiful wedding photos to cherish.
Royce, 98, and Frankie, 97, had a special 77th anniversary on Sept. 16 thanks to the staff at St. Croix Hospice who help care for the couple at the Kings’ home in Oelwein, Iowa.
They found a vintage 1940s wedding gown for Frankie, and Royce wore his Air Force uniform as they held an anniversary celebration in their backyard on a beautiful sunny day. Flowers from the patio were turned into a bouquet for Frankie, and a music therapist from St. Croix played some 1940s standards as Frankie walked down the “aisle.”
“How can you not have a sense of overwhelming emotion?” St. Croix Hospice CEO Heath Bartness told TODAY. “The connectivity you almost feel that you were a part of this, and thinking back to what it was like in World War II the first time, and how meaningful and how emotional this second opportunity to do this was. There’s an overwhelming sense of pride in not just the company and what the organization did, but more so just as an act of humanity.”
Hilary Michelson, a staffer at St. Croix who is also a professional photographer, captured the heartwarming scenes in a series of beautiful photos that now make up the Kings’ wedding album.
The couple’s daughter, Sue Bilodeau, who lives in California, happened to be in the area and was able to witness the impromptu ceremony.
“It was very emotional, very heartwarming,” Sue told TODAY. “I couldn’t stop smiling, and I couldn’t stop being so happy for both of them, especially mom in her wedding gown looking so beautiful.”
They also did a “first look,” where they put a handkerchief over Royce’s eyes and then escorted Frankie in front of him.
“They said, ‘Are you ready to see your bride?’ and took the blindfold off,” Sue said. “He had just the biggest smile the rest of the day. It 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.”
Several staff members from St. Croix were able to be there in person after rearranging their schedules to witness the sweet moment.