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Spirit of love flourishes at Albert's nuptials

February 14th, 2017


Written by: Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent and Photo by: Jonathan Miano, The Times

SCHERERVILLE — Love blossomed Tuesday as 15 couples from Indiana and Illinois exchanged vows during the Valentine's Day nuptials at Albert's Diamond Jewelers.

Now in its 19th year, the tradition of Valentine's Day weddings honors the Feb. 14, 1968, wedding of Fred and Donna Halpern and dates back to when the couple decided to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows at the Albert's store they owned, then in East Chicago.

Their invitation for other couples to join them and get married that same day sparked the annual nuptials and renewal of vows, said Josh Halpern, the couple's son and president of Albert's Diamond Jewelers.

The love stories of couples who celebrated Tuesday included friends who met decades ago and those who renewed their original wedding vows.

For Louise Chickie-Wolfe, 72, and Raleigh Wolfe, 78, Valentine's Day already held special meaning. On Tuesday, the Munster couple renewed the wedding vows they pledged to each other exactly 20 years ago.

"Raleigh didn't know we were doing this until this morning," Louise chuckled as she held the original silk flower bouquet from their wedding on Feb. 14, 1997. "That's his original boutonnière. It just gets better every day."

When Louise joined Raleigh at the front of the decorated chapel for the ceremony performed by Lake County Juvenile Court Magistrate Matt Gruett, she air-kissed her husband.

"Here's to another 20 years! How about that’" she said to Raleigh as they toasted each other with champagne provided by Albert's.

Lansing residents Celia Perez, 68, and Armando Ortiz, 69, first met 25 years ago. The idea of getting married at Albert's on Valentine's Day began when Sue Snell of Albert's sold them their engagement ring.

"Then I sold them their wedding bands. I got to be part of all the fun. We thought why not finish it here," Snell said.

"She sprung this (the wedding at Albert's) on us last week," said Celia's daughter, Judith Perez of St. John, who is married to Armando's nephew, John Perez. "We knew they have been dating, going to the show together. She first surprised us with the engagement ring."

John and Celia's son, George Perez of Schererville, walked her down the aisle to the strains of "Here Comes the Bride." After the ceremony, the newlyweds joined family, friends and Albert's employees for photos.

Gruett officiated at weddings from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday while Lake County Juvenile Court Magistrate Jeffrey Miller performed the ceremonies from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

Area businesses also helped make the day special for the couples.

Monarch Florist of Schererville provided the floral décor as well as the rose bouquets for the brides and grooms' boutonnieres. Two-layer cakes were baked fresh and donated by Ultra Foods of Highland.

Videographer Dave Ervin, of Ervin Video Services in Schererville, and photographer Bernie Zemen, from Timeless Images Photography in Highland, volunteered again this year to capture the special day. The ceremonies were also streamed on Facebook Live for family and friends who couldn't attend.

Click here to view this article on nwi.com