Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent
SCHERERVILLE — Cupid came calling Wednesday as 18 couples exchanged vows during Valentine's Day nuptials at Albert's Diamond Jewelers, including the founders of this 20-year tradition.
Donna and Fred Halpern arrived from their Florida home to renew the wedding vows they had exchanged exactly 50 years ago today.
This tradition dates back to when the Halperns celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows at the Albert's store they owned in the Indiana Harbor section of East Chicago.
Their invitation for other couples to join them and get married that same day sparked the event that on Wednesday Fred Halpern called, "Our gift to the community."
"This is an honor to do this wedding, a renewal of 50 years," said Lake County Superior Court Magistrate Jeffrey Miller as Fred Halpern knelt next to Donna Halpern's wheelchair. "They recommit themselves for another 50 years."
Couples from throughout the Region said their "I do's" in a specially decorated area of the store that was adorned with flower arrangements and luminaires. In addition to Miller, Judge Elizabeth F. Tavitas of the Lake County Superior Court and Lake County Superior Court Magistrate Matt Gruett officiated at the ceremonies.
The free weddings included all flowers donated by Monarch Florist of Schererville, wedding cakes from Strack & Van Til, photographs by Molly Gardner of Highland-based Vivelle Studios and videos of the ceremonies by Dave Ervin of Ervin Video Service of Schererville.
Alfred Robinson, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, walked his daughter Karrie Robinson down the aisle to a recording of "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran.
There the 46-year-old bride from Valparaiso met her 68-year-old husband-to-be Ken Burcaw, of Valparaiso. Her sister, Evelyn Szala, of Michigan City, served as her matron-of-honor while her 7-year-old niece, Katie Szala, clasped the groom's ring in her little hands.
In keeping with the family theme of the wedding, Karrie Robinson's sons — Nick Gutierrez, of Valparaiso, and Sean Carroll, of Whiting — were their new stepfather's groomsmen.
Burcaw, a retired chemical engineer, and Karrie Robinson, a dental assistant, met 10 years ago at the Gary Public Library.
"Neither of us had a computer. We were there using the library's computers," Burcaw said just prior to the ceremony.
Getting married at Albert's on Valentine's Day became a choice when the couple purchased their rings at the store and a salesperson mentioned the tradition.
Burcaw wiped tears from his eyes as the couple stood with Gruett and exchanged vows they had written themselves.
"Ken, I love and I accept you for the person you are," Karrie Burcaw said. "I will hang in there with you until the end of this lifetime."
In response, Ken Burcaw said, as tears ran down his cheeks, "Karrie, I love
you with all my heart. I do love you for who you are. I love you today, tomorrow and always."
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