Benzie County Couples Renews Vows In Special Ceremony

Jennifer and Ron Oberlin will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary February 1. To celebrate the occasion, they decided to renew their vows, January 9. Just in time, as Ron is in stage four of lung cancer.

Michigan vendors teamed up in Traverse City, as part of the Wish Upon A Wedding program, donating their time and resources for a luxurious wedding at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

“It’s really special for the resort to hose this wedding, but it’s even more special to see all the people come together to make this happen,” says Caroline Rizzo, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Public Relations Manager. “We have donations not only from us and our teams but A Day in May Events, Lillies of the Alley, Webber Photography, Event Theory. These are high end wedding events and to do this all just for the good of this couple who is looking forward to experiencing that wedding memory and day.”

 The Oberlins never had the wedding that Jennifer always wanted. It was one thing that Ron said he wanted to make happen for her.

The couple met when they were 17, at a family party, marrying seven months after they met, in a small service.

“I always wanted a big ceremony and this was our chance,” says Jennifer. “I will have memories when Ron’s gone because he only has, they told us, a month to two months to live. We never had a wedding when we first got married. It was just at the preacher’s house and it was a quick thing.”

The couple applied to the Wish Upon A Wedding service which grants wedding and vow renewals to couples facing serious illnesses or life-altering circumstances.

It was an extra special event for Traverse City native, Lacey Wicksall, Wish Upon A Wedding Program Coordinator, who met the Oberlins in the fall.

“When I saw an application pop up in my hometown of Traverse City I was thrilled,” she says. “I love seeing the generosity of our wish granter, our vendors, people who come together who have never met Jennifer and Ron and just out of the goodness of their heart they want to give back their time and talents and their resources.”

When the teams at Wish Upon A Wedding and A Day in May Events found out about Ron’s declining health, they sprung into action. They put on a wedding designed with lavender and ivory – the colors of cancer and lung cancer awareness.

“We started planning the mid-part of December,” says Alicia Fritz, A Day In May Events. “Unfortunately, Ron’s health took a little bit of a turn and so they were planning on a February celebration and then we moved it up quick as we could.”

Fritz says she learned something from Jennifer and Ron’s story.

Jennifer and Ron’s story, they’ve been married for 42 years and when I asked Jennifer, I said, my husband and I have been married two [years], I said, can you tell me what the secret to your happiness is? And she says, never give up,” says Fritz. 

Jennifer has more advice for couples who want to know how to make a marriage last.

“I just think you that you have to work at it. It’s never easy and takes a lot of work,” she says. “And if people put a lot of respect and love and forgiveness into their relationship, that’s how you make it last.”

And the words she has for her husband, who has stood by her all these years…

“You’ve always shoveled me a path and I wouldn’t have been able to go down that path without you.”