The first wedding of two Lehigh Acres Health and Rehabilitation Center residents took place Dec. 12 followed by a reception attended by at least 100 residents, patients and friends.
"It sure was a first for us," said Activities Director Scott Lendh, who helped plan the event along with others.
The bride is Nancy Austin, who has lived in Lehigh for around nine years and for two years at the rehabilitation center. The groom was Jim Trautman.
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Trautman kiss following their wedding vows on Dec. 12.
Both stood up from their wheelchairs to take their vows from Chaplain Bob Moore of the Lehigh Hope Hospice.
"We met here three years ago when I came to visit someone," said Jim Trautman. And we became friends. And then I moved into the rehabilitation center and we became closer and I asked her to marry me," he smiled.
He had lived in LaBelle before he moved into the facility.
The Lehigh Acres Health and Rehabilitation Center was the site of the original Lehigh Hospital. Over the years it was renovated to become a rehab center. More recently, several million dollars have been spent on the facility and the interior. Each room has a large flat screen TV and the entrance is decorated including a grand piano that plays by itself.
The quiet music is a pleasant greeting when one enters the center.
The wedding was held at 2 p.m. in the large social room at the center. Residents, many in wheelchairs, rolled themselves in to witness the wedding.
Jim Trautman and his new bride were seated at a front table accompanied by their maid of honor and best man - Barbara Kibbme and John Neeley. Both signed as witnesses to make the marriage legal.
"We were roommates," Neeley said smiling. "Now he will be in the same room with his new wife, and I guess they will give me another roommate."
The bride has one daughter who lives out of town and was unable to attend. The groom had no children.
Bruce Stoned of Port Charlotte with his guitar played music to entertain the guests. Flowers on the tables were all donated.
A wedding cake was decorated in red with the numbers 12-12-12 and the couple's first names.
Like many others across the county who chose to be married last week, such numbers won't appear on the calendar again until 2101 when it will be 1-1-01.
The new married couple shared a piece of cake, feeding each other a small slice while many of the guests danced.
"It was a great time for all. I think the residents really had fun," said Lendh. He has been employed for almost two years at the center.
"We sure broke the record with our wedding, the first ever held here," Lendh said.
The couple was expected to get a lot of teasing as they moved in together in the same room for their wedding night.