St. John “Barefoot Minister” Rev. Anne Marie Porter has been celebrating Valentine’s Day at Trunk Bay for 14 years.
The island’s biggest wedding ceremony is set to take place on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, when Love City’s own “barefoot minister” Anne Marie Porter will renew the vows of an anticipated 100-plus couples at Trunk Bay.
Now in its 12th year, the Valentine’s Day vow renewal has attracted a total of 1,130 couples throughout the years. The event has grown from a small ceremony that Porter performed for a friend to something that visitors now plan their vacations around.
“Bill and Cathy Dove who used to live here on St. John wanted to renew their marriage vows, and they wanted me to officiate,” said Anne Marie Porter of the ceremony’s beginnings. “They were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and Cathy asked if she could invite the people at her church to also renew their vows at the service. I thought it was a beautiful idea for them to renew their vows with their church family, so she invited the people at the St. John Methodist Church to renew their vows too.”
Everyone is welcome to renew their vows at the free Trunk Bay ceremony, from those who have been married less than 24 hours to those who tied the knot many, many decades ago. Couples will be greeted by the beautiful sounds of “Here Comes the Bride” played on the steel pan by Albion Sewer, whose light, melodic music will be complemented by flautist Michael Banzhaf.
“Michael welcomes the brides and grooms onto the beach with his music, setting a very elegant tone for the sacred service,” said Porter.
Then, as the sun begins to dip low in the sky and a warm glow washes over Trunk Bay, the barefoot minister conducts the vow renewal ceremony, inviting the diverse group of couples to pledge their love to one another all over again.
“You’re standing there with 100 other couples, so you have a lot of witnesses at your wedding who get to see your renewal,” said Porter. “For residents to do this in front of their community takes some courage. Hopefully tourists are able to take that renewed energy and love back to their own communities.”
Once the ceremony is complete, the couples are once again serenaded by Banzhaf, who plays positive and upbeat music in celebration of the vow renewal, while each bride is given a beautiful long-stem rose and each couple is given a marriage vow renewal certificate that’s suitable for framing.
“I’m encouraging couples to do this as a meaningful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Porter. “It’s really an opportunity for them to honor their relationship and each other by getting married again. That’s what makes it so sweet and tender.”
Everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m. on Valentine’s Day at Trunk Bay.