Vow renewal or not, this is a special marriage

One of my favorite things about meeting couples who were married here several years back is when I ask if they would consider renewing their vows. We heard about Doyalene and Gary Layton and their beautiful vow renewal ceremony, so naturally I would think that when you have love between two people for that long, it only makes sense to renew your vows and honor it. Well, apparently that’s not the case.

My first introduction to this was my parent’s friends telling a story of randomly renewing their vows at another chapel not to be named (it was closest to where they were having dinner when they made the spur-of-the-moment decision, and with vow renewals you don’t need to get a marriage license first) after being married for 40 years. On their way there, the Bride said how she got so nervous thinking about what a commitment it would be and did she want to do this? When she was young, it was so golden and beautiful and you didn’t think that far and all that goes into it, but 40 years later you’ve raised kids, had financial issues, health issues and been through a lot. Is that something to go through once again? Well, they did and they’re still happily married, but it’s an entertaining story nonetheless.

So, back to Chapel of the Flowers and our couples that visits us several years later. The first couple I had the pleasure of meeting was Cleo and Haywood Owens, married in the Victorian Chapel (that was the only chapel back then!) on Oct. 4, 1964 and visiting us on Oct. 4, 2011, 47 years later.

The two of them met right after high school, in 1956, and dated for awhile before parting ways. Haywood went off and joined the army and Cleo got married and had three children. After she and her husband split, Cleo and Haywood reconnected and would see each other off and on before finally getting back together. It couldn’t be an easy task as Cleo was still living in San Bernardino, Calif. and Haywood was stationed in Germany! But they found each other once again and knew this was it.

Well, Cleo finally got her divorce decree, Haywood was on leave from Germany, so they decided it was time to tie the knot. He got to San Bernardino in the morning, she went wedding dress shopping resulting in a baby blue two-piece skirt suit with a cream colored dickey and cream colored shoes. Then Cleo went to work! She worked a full day, got home, they left the kids with Haywood’s aunt and hit the road for their Vegas wedding.

They drove straight through the night and directly to Chapel of the Flowers (then it was Little Chapel of the Flowers), arriving at 6 a.m. They went in and met their minister, Reverend Daly, who then sent them to the courthouse to get their Marriage License. While they did that, the Reverend went and woke up the witness! They got back to the chapel where Cleo had blue carnations for her bouquet and Haywood for his boutonniere. Their ceremony was very nice, they didn’t want a big church wedding, and the ceremony at the chapel still had a lot of feeling and sentiment. I think our ministers today do a great job of this, so it was good to hear. They purchased some photos from their wedding as well as the audio recording (back then we had audio recordings with their wedding packages, not videography!) and then hit the road!

Cleo and Haywood Owens got back to San Bernardino, she cooked dinner for the family, changed clothes and then went back to work. Talk about a woman who means business! Haywood was in town for a month before returning to Germany. The couple went on to have four more kids together, totaling seven children in all for their family. They moved all over the country based on where Haywood was stationed, eventually settling in Fort Hood, Texas, where they reside to this day.

The two came back to the chapel 22 years ago and said it was still just the Victorian Chapel at that time, but had a shop with tuxedos, dresses and rings as well as a much larger assortment of flowers. One would think that visiting Chapel of the Flowers progressively through the years might eventually lead to them renewing their vows here. It’s a special place where they first sealed their love, after all. Not the case though! Cleo seemed like she may be open to the idea, but not Haywood. He’s not sure he would do that again! So, parting and finding each other once again, raising seven children over the course of a 47-year marriage (with more years to come) will have to be enough. I think they’re love is a pretty sure thing in that case.

By Chapel Marketing

Award-winning Chapel of the Flowers has provided traditional, intimate and elegant Las Vegas weddings on the world-famous Strip for nearly 60 years. It is a full-service wedding venue, with three elegant wedding chapels as well as a beautiful outdoor gazebo and glass garden. Its cobblestone-accented grounds and lush landscaping create a variety of options to capture that picture-perfect moment. The chapel’s professional wedding planners work with couples on a daily basis from one-year out to day-of planning.

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