DARIEN, Conn. — Dinner, a show and dancing are all romantic ways to express how much you love your significant other on Valentine's Day, but what would top all of these? Getting married, says Justice of the Peace Mary C. Pugh.
Every Valentine’s Day for over five years, couples have been coming to the Vow Renewal & Wedding Ceremony she hosts at the Waters Edge at Giovanni's in Darien to do just that. Pugh, who officiates the weddings at the restaurant, said some couples get married for the first time and others renew their vows.
"Vow renewal is for people who are married who want to say to their spouse 'I still love you as much as ever,'" Pugh said. "Last year, we had a non-stop stream of people get married, maybe 30 couples came."
The Valentine's Day event, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m., is free, and there is no need to make an appointment. The restaurant provides couples who are exchanging vows with long-stemmed roses, a champagne toast and chocolate, according to Pugh, a Norwalk resident.
"A lot of people who come have renewed their vows three or four times," she said. "Some get married alone or in groups."
Pugh said many people get married in a group setting to save money. "Those who do it together are usually good friends or sisters," she said.
The couples and their family members often eat at the restaurant before the wedding ceremony.
“Watching a wedding ceremony is a really beautiful thing to see,” said Bonnie Littlefield, banquet manager at the restaurant.
“It’s really great to see the excitement on the family members' faces when they know they are going to see their loved ones renew their vows," she said. This is especially true for a couple’s children, who most likely never saw their parents' first wedding.
“It becomes a tear-jerker," she said.
About 25 percent of the restaurant's 150 dinner guests on Valentine’s Day also renew their vows, she said.
“Renewing one's wedding vows are a reminder that love is still alive. We need to look at our partners and cherish them," Littlefield said. "Valentine's Day is a special day we put aside to let each other be No. 1.”
Pugh officiates at 300 weddings a year and gets from three to 15 inquiries a day from people who want to get married. When she is not officiating at weddings, she works as a campaign manager for Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk/Darien).
She first became a Justice of the Peace in 2004 to officiate at the wedding of her son, who had a French bride.
“I married them in front of my fireplace,” Pugh said.
Couples getting their vows renewed do not need a license. Couples who are getting married should pick up a marriage license at Darien Town Hall before 3 p.m. and bring it to the ceremony. The license costs $30, and you will need a photo ID.
To contact The Waters Edge at Giovanni's, 2748 Boston Post Road, Darien, call 203-325-9979 or click here .