There is no photograph of the moment 45 years ago when John and Lee MontMarquette exchanged their wedding vows.
"The photographer slipped," Lee MontMarquette says.
"We got a picture of the ceiling," her husband says.
Better photographs should abound when the Schaumburg couple renew their vows on Aug. 22 as part of an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the largest marriage vow renewal ceremony. A joint effort by Wyatt Austin Jewelers in Schaumburg and the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, the free event aims to break the 2009 record set at Ohio's Miami University when 1,087 couples retied the knot.
"Why shouldn't we be able to do it? Let's give it a shot," says event organizer Candice Milstein, president of Wyatt Austin Jewelers in Schaumburg, "There is no catch. You just want to get married again."
As part of the "Love at the Renaissance: A Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony," the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel will host a mass outdoor ceremony on grounds that includes fountains, waterfalls, sculpture and a lush natural prairie, says Jeff Woolford, the hotel's director of operations.
In addition to special room rates for the re-newlyweds, the hotel will offer live wedding music, a romantic $99 dinner for two at Sam & Harry's restaurant and a bevy of wedding-inspired cocktails with names such as the Happily Ever After, the First Kiss, the Love Elixir and the I Still Do. Wyatt Austin Jewelers will raffle off a chance to win a $3,500 wedding ring set.
To read more or to register for the Friday afternoon and evening event, visit wyattaustin.com.
"Everybody has picked up a Guinness Book of World Records to see if there is anything they could do," Woolford says. "How often do you get a chance to be part of a world record?"
Showing up for a record-breaking ceremony and party sounds more fun than trying to beat the record for most body piercings (4,225), takes less effort than toppling the mark of 124 consecutive one-finger push-ups, and requires just a fraction of the time needed to grow your fingernails in an attempt to break the world record of 19 feet and 9 inches for both hands.
But the event means more than just a world record attempt, Milstein says.
"This is a really romantic concept to say, 'I will marry this person all over again,'" Milstein says. "Whether you've been married for a couple of days or 50 years, this is an event for you."
The effort is bittersweet for Milstein. She and her husband, Jeff, built the independent jewelry business together and would have celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary this year if Jeff hadn't died of cancer in 2011. Sunday marked the third anniversary of his death.
The couple's sons, Wyatt, and his wife of three years, Chloe, and Max, and his wife of less than two weeks, Jennie, should be part of the renewal crowd, Milstein says.
"Unfortunately, I don't get to do that," Milstein says, pausing to regain her composure. "You shouldn't miss the opportunity."
The MontMarquettes, both retired from a family collection agency, registered for the event after Wyatt Austin fixed a broken band on a ring Lee MontMarquette got from her husband years ago as a Valentine's Day present. The couple's matching wedding bands are yellow and white gold with seven small diamonds.
"My wedding ring is still perfect, but I can't wear it now," says Lee MontMarquette, 70, admitting that she's no longer the 105-pound girl she was on her wedding day. "John has lost all seven diamonds, but he can't get it off to get it fixed."
That's not the only metal he carries with him. A marine, John MontMarquette came home from Vietnam with two Purple Hearts and a piece of shrapnel lodged in his neck. He knew he'd need a wedding ring after his first day of work at an insurance company in June of 1968.
"The day I walked into the office where she was working, I said to another guy, 'I'm going to marry her,'" says John MontMarquette, now 72. "There is such a thing as love at first sight."
The couple have taken many vacations to Disney World where "we go on the rides and do everything the young folks do," he says. They say the key to their marriage is that they also are best friends. The marriage has been good thus far, so the couple are eager to renew their vows.
"Yeah, I'd like to do that," John MontMarquette says. "I'll sign up to be married for another 45 years."