By Cathy Wharton
For Hometown News
As in most committed relationships, it starts with falling in love. That's what happened with Lo Anne Stamey and Joe Lucarelli, residents of Riviera Senior Living Facility in Holly Hill. The two met while living there and, in due time, became inseparable. In July, Mr. Lucarelli asked Ms. Stamey to marry him. She accepted and not long after, a date was set: Oct. 6.
The idea of a marriage ceremony excited others, especially the Riviera staff, who in the end would put together a phenomenal celebration for the "60-something" couple. From administrative personnel to nursing, from kitchen workers to aides, the enthusiasm was contagious, and shared by all, including the residents. After all, the event would be the first wedding in 20 years at a retirement center in Volusia County.
Coordinated by Noel Colucco, the Riviera's director of sales, the event would require a lot of planning and organizing, including donations of goods and services. Many individuals and businesses stepped up to the occasion, giving flowers, cameras, champagne, candies and favors, and plastic wear. Daytona State College photography student Han Song donated his time and talent to photograph as much of the event as possible. The Riviera kitchen would cater the reception and the beautiful outside courtyard would be the setting for the ceremony.
As the date of the event drew closer, the myriad details began falling into place. The many contributions of time and energy were coming together as a single unified effort.
The wedding ceremony itself was scheduled for 6 p.m. By late afternoon, other residents began to arrive and mingle in the grand lobby. Excitement filled the air as people gathered, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Though some were in need of assistance, the focus this day was not on their own concerns, but rather on the much-anticipated matrimony that would soon take place. Many of the residents wore their finest outfits, festively adding to the glamour of the occasion.
Also arriving for the Saturday event were representatives of businesses that had donated items and services. And, of course, family members of the bride and groom - brothers, sisters and children - came from all over to be part of the special event.
Among those awaiting the ceremony was the bridegroom himself, Joe Lucarelli. Asked about his thoughts, his response was immediate: "It's the happiest day of my life!"
Despite an earlier light rain, the ceremony started on schedule. A covered outdoor patio served as a church setting for nuptials, and included front row seats for both family and close friends. Additional seating was provided for residents, guests and staff. As the procession of the wedding party began, the traditional "Here Comes the Bride," played by singer-musician, Jonathan Brady, rang out, followed by the procession of the bride. Accompanying Ms. Stamey to the altar was her best friend and Maid of Honor, Kitty Hairfield-Boyat. Riviera's executive director, Pamela Landers, and director of nursing, Blake Breedlove, gave the bride away. Best Man for Mr. Lucarelli was best friend, Bill Delea.
An estimated 150 people were present as Minister Ray Lewis of Tomoka Christian Church presented the bride and groom. After vows of commitment and the exchange of rings, each was asked, "Do you take thee ...," to which Mr. Lucarelli affirmed with "I do," while Ms. Stamey said, "You bet!" With a roar of approval and a smile from the preacher, Joseph Paul Lucarelli and Norma Lo Anne Stamey were pronounced husband and wife.
After the ceremony, the event shifted back to the lobby where an array of hors d'oeuvres, fresh from the kitchen, awaited the guests. Before long, the happy couple and their wedding attendants entered the room, then formed a receiving line. Smiles and handshakes took center stage as the newlyweds greeted each guest, one person at a time.
"It was beautiful, just a lovely wedding," one resident exclaimed. "They're very happy - a nice couple," Mr. Delea said. Later, a quote from the bride herself, playing off her husband's remarks, went like this: "The happiest day of my life will be tomorrow."
A short time later, the couple retreated to the outdoor courtyard where they danced for the first time as a wedded couple. The tune that was playing for them: "My Way."
"This is one of the best things that's happened at the Riviera," Ms. Colucco said.
Riviera Independent and Assisted Living is at 1823 Ridgewood Ave., Holly Hill, (386) 677-5000.