Love was in the air Friday night as 40 couples celebrated Valentine’s day like royalty at Ludowici‘s Celebration Castle.
The couples, who paid $30 to enjoy a romantic evening of music, games and a prime rib feast with all the trimmings, were greeted by Cupid’s arrows at nearly every turn in the castle’s bedecked main banquet hall.
Gina and Clint Hendrix drove from Jesup for some quality couple time.
The pair said the couples’ night was a perfect opportunity to patronize a local business while enjoying each other’s company.
“We’ve heard a lot of great things about the castle,” Gina Hendrix said, “and Clint and I have been together for six years, so it feels really good to do something like this when you’ve been together for that long.”
Linda Smith, her husband, Charles, and castle owners Chuck and Annette Abbey coordinated the romantic affair.
Smith said she, like those who assisted her, believes in doing what it takes to keep relationships going strong.
She said the couples’ night was created with that assertion in mind.
“My husband and I have done this for several years at different churches and different ministries because we have a heart to see couples become one, and so we have been doing this for a while,” Smith said. “Last year, I talked with Annette and we decided to do it here for the first time. We got so much interest in doing it again, and so that’s what we’re doing here tonight.”
After dinner was served, couples indulged in chocolate-covered strawberries and posed for photos under a red, white and silver arch in the castle’s main chapel. Next, four of the 40 couples put their relationship knowledge to the test with a lively round of The Newlywed Game.
While the pairs scribbled down answers to questions like “Which animal would your spouse say best describes him or her?” couples in the audience cheered the players on.
“I can tell you right now, we are not going to get this one right,” player Jamie Jones said.
Right or wrong, the players’ answers garnered a few laughs from the crowd and helped the couples learn a thing or two in a lighthearted environment.
“Today is our 33rd [wedding anniversary],” castle owner Annette Abbey said. “And it feels wonderful.”
Couple renews Valentine’s Day vows
Jamie and Christopher Jones don’t usually adhere to tradition.
“We don’t do nothing like anybody else,” Christopher said.
The couple’s first meeting was certainly atypical.
“You’re probably not going to believe this,” Jamie said. “But, we met on Blackplanet.com.”
“He messaged me on the site, we talked on the phone for four hours and then he drove four hours [from Fort Stewart] on the same night to come down and visit me in Myrtle Beach,” she said.
They both admit their whirlwind courtship bypassed many of the traditional dating milestones.
“It was six months,” Christopher said. “I told her, ‘Look, I am tired of driving four hours to come and visit you. You are coming to live with me.’ ”
When they decided to get married, Jamie and Christopher didn’t plan the classic ceremony-reception-honeymoon affair.
“I had gotten sick and could not walk for nearly two years,” Jamie said. “He carried me, wearing his ACUs (Army camouflage uniform), to the courthouse. I was wearing sweats.”
On Friday night, nearly four years after making their relationship official, the couple said the only tradition they plan to keep is the one they created for themselves – renewing their vows on Valentine’s Day, the day they first said “I do.”
On Saturday, Jamie, originally from New Jersey, and Christopher, from Chicago, did just that and, once again, the two strayed from tradition.
“We’re reversing it,” Christopher said. “I am somewhat of a Biblical person and I believe queens never look for kings. Kings look for queens.”
“Last time, she could not walk down the aisle and so we’re doing things a little different,” he explained. “This time I am going to walk to her.”