Knight and day: Couples renew vows on Valentine's at Medieval Times
Smiles on the faces of 45 couples were proof that there were no balls and chains as they renewed their wedding vows before Queen Maria Isabella on Valentine's Day at the Medieval Times Castle in Schaumburg.
Ramy and Nikki Soufan of Roselle, married only three years, said they've always loved medieval culture and recently became fans of the dinner and tournament venue when it proved such a big hit with their young son.
They were among those who spotted an invitation for Thursday's event on Medieval Times' Facebook page and entered their names before all available openings quickly filled up. Had it not been for that, they wouldn't have thought of renewing their vows so soon.
"We never thought we'd be renewing our vows at Medieval Times," Ramy laughed.
Though some young children attended the event with their parents, the Soufans' son was at home with a baby sitter. They didn't realize kids also would be welcome.
"I think he's going to be a little jealous," Ramy said.
Meghan Lowther of Wheeling, who first married her husband, Jeremy, five years ago, has been a regular visitor to Medieval Times since she was in high school.
"It's never a bad thing to be married by a queen," she said.
"We're nerds," Jeremy joked. "'Game of Thrones' and all that."
Zac and Jessie Koesler of downstate Cherry brought their 9-month-old son, Ronan, with them as they renewed their vows after three years of marriage.
Big enough fans for this to be their third visit to Medieval Times in the past year, Jessie said there was more ceremony Thursday than during their first exchange of vows at a courthouse.
The fact both have some acting experience is part of their love for Medieval Times, Zac said.
The queen -- aka Allyssa O'Donnell of Clarendon Hills -- addressed the gathered couples from a balcony as she led them first in the renewal of their vows and then a champagne toast. She congratulated them not only on having weathered life's storms together but also on having had the luck to choose their betrothed in the first place -- a less likely scenario in medieval times.
"I hope you have found your unity to be continuously reinforced," she said.
While her authority as queen of the realm might be questioned by 21st-century attorneys, O'Donnell backed it up by earning her minister certification online at getordained.org. It was the first time she presided over vows as queen at Medieval Times, O'Donnell said, but having the credentials to do so opens up the possibility of it happening more often.