Grandparents of five Karen and Gary Ryan decided to do the shoot after Karen found her old wedding dress in storage and noticed it still fit. The school sweethearts, who got married in July 1962 in Pocatello, Idaho, said they never thought they would get to relive their day again.
Gary wore a rented tuxedo, and the wedding photographers—the couple’s daughter-in-law, Nikki Ryan, and granddaughter, McCall—ensured it looked identical to the one he wore for his wedding.
“It was emotional and I was so nervous, I don’t know why I was nervous,” said Karen, who is a retired teacher. “It felt like we were doing the same thing all over again. He looked awesome, exactly how I pictured him 59 years ago.”
Gary added: “It was awesome. She looked beautiful. It put tears to my eyes. It was a lot of fun and it was fun because of who took the pictures and we got to see what McCall and Nikki do for a living when they shoot their own weddings.
“I was totally surprised at how good it mirrored our pictures from 59 years ago, it’s neat to see them then and now.”
The pair met as teenagers after Karen spotted Gary performing in a school play at their junior high school while in the seventh grade. They went on their first date in high school in 1956, and six years later were married in a ceremony that cost about $500.
Karen said: “It was as simple as you can get. We did have a lot of people, there were about 500 in the church and then five bridesmaids and five groomsmen, one flower girl and one ring bearer.
“After the ceremony, we went into the basement and had cake and punch. The biggest expense was probably the wedding dress.”
Before the couple’s 59th anniversary this year, Nikki, 51, and McCall, 26, asked if Karen had any plans to celebrate.
Nikki, from Irvine, California, shared that when they were talking about their anniversary coming up, Karen had said that her wedding dress was in a “box in the garage.” And so they went out in the garage and got the box.
Former clothing store owner Karen tried on her dress again for the first time in nearly six decades.
“I couldn’t believe it fit me perfectly,” Karen said. “The only thing that wasn’t in the box was the big hoop I wore under the dress. It was in perfect condition.”
Nikki said, “It fit like a glove.”
Nikki runs a wedding photography company with her daughter McCall, who came up with the idea to recreate Karen and Gary’s old wedding photos.
After Gary was hospitalized earlier in the year with congestive heart failure and was fitted with a pacemaker, the family was keen to make every moment together special.
Grandmother-of-five Karen said: “At first I was like ‘no way,’ then the more I thought about it, it sounded like fun. I wanted to see what they wanted to do.”
On the exact anniversary date, July 28, 2021, the mother and daughter set up cakes and balloons in the grandparents’ garden in Hanford, California, ready for the shoot, which lasted for nearly an hour.
“It was so different and yet it felt the same,” Karen said. “I never thought we would get to relive our day again.”
Karen’s advice for a long marriage is “never to go to bed angry, always kiss and make-up.”
Gary added: “We all have problems, just help each other and be there for one another always.”
Epoch Times staff contributing to this report.