Military couples renew marriage vows at Tybee
December 16, 2010
<b>HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga.</b> "This was splendid," said Marisa Finney, after she and her husband, Sgt. Charles Finney, renewed their vows at the Tybee Post Theater, Dec. 8. "I would marry him 100 more times."
Sergeant Finney, a Fort Stewart 2nd Brigade Combat Team Soldier who returned to his wife in November after redeploying from Iraq, was all smiles after the ceremony which was held in the quaint, historic theater in the presence of friends and Family Members.
"I promised her a real wedding one day," said Sgt. Finney, explaining that their wedding two years ago did not have what they enjoyed today-harp music, flowers, a real reverend to officiate, and a beautiful wedding gown for his bride to keep- all free of charge.
The couple was among 16 other military couples who either married for the first time or renewed their vows at Tybee, compliments of the Weddings for Warriors project that included the talent, hard work and monetary donations from local businesses. Besides the theater, ceremonies were held at three additional sites on Tybee, including two directly on the beach.
This was not the first time the Weddings for Warriors project has sponsored free weddings for military couples. As part of the Savannah Wedding Tourism Council, the group also provided six individual weddings and 30 individual vow renewal ceremonies to members of the Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps on Veterans Day, 2009.
President of the Savannah Wedding Tourism Council, Jim Byous, said he and his wife, Becky, thought that free weddings would be a great expression of how much they appreciate the military and their service to our Nation.
Becky Byous said it's the folks who volunteer their services who make the program possible.
"We have an all volunteer military force, so we were hoping that we could have an all volunteer response from the community- and we succeeded," she said.
The project has had volunteers from other areas too. "After hearing about the project on the internet, one florist in Anderson, South Carolina volunteered to come to Savannah to participate in the Veterans Day ceremonies," Byous said. "Response from Savannah businesses was fantastic as well."
"This means so much to us," said Karen Laplander, the wedding director for ceremonies held at the Tybee Post Chapel. "We want to show our love and appreciation to our military members for keeping us safe."
Sergeant Robert Acevedo, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade and his wife Yasmin, said they appreciated the free services from the group and for making their day special.
The couple reunited recently in October after his return from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. At just 28-years-old, the young Soldier has already served two previous deployments in Iraq.
"We got married by a justice of the peace," said Sgt. Acevedo. "We never had a ceremony."
Those who gathered to celebrate with the couple included their daughters, two-year-old Arianne, and nine-month-old Kiana, Sgt. Acevedo's parents, aunts and uncles, and some, all the way from Puerto Rico.
Besides the ceremony, the 16 couples and their Family Members also enjoyed a free joint-reception at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Plaza Resort, located beachfront on Tybee.
The reception included dinner, cake and champagne and finally, a night of dancing.