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@Work: St. John Weddings

Dec. 15, 2006 – When opportunity knocked about 10 years ago, longtime St. John resident Anne Marie Porter answered. Back then Porter, already an American Fellowship minister, was "folding T-shirts" at a gift and clothing store called Bamboula when friends Chris Rosenberg and Gina Burns asked her to officiate at their wedding.
From that small beginning, stjohnweddings.com grew.
Today, Porter does a wedding every day. "I've been great for this economy," she said.
After the Rosenberg and Burns wedding, she received an offer to officiate at Caneel Bay Resort's considerable number of weddings. While she's married the rich as well as the famous, she said she knows it's best to be discrete and keep their names to herself.
And, of course, people from all over the world use her services. She said that she officiated at weddings of the children of people she married some years ago and has even presided over baptisms of their babies. And some of her couples return to St. John to renew their vows.
Porter has also made a name for herself with the annual Valentine's Day vow renewal ceremony at Trunk Bay. The upcoming event marks the fifth time she and another St. John resident, Kathy Dove, will organize the observance that brings together dozens of couples to re-pledge their vows.
While she said she makes it all look easy, she finds plenty of stress in keeping the happy couples happy on what is already an emotionally charged day.
"If it was raining, the bride would already have called me three or four times this morning," she said.
Porter, 60, was born in Raleigh , N.C. After graduating from North Carolina State with a bachelor's degree in English, she was lured to Stamford, Conn., by a job managing the local branch of the Elaine Powers Figure Salon chain.
Three years later, she opened her own Anne Marie's Figure Forum in Westport, Conn.
"My clientele were people like Betty Davis and Linda Blair," she said, ticking off the names of a couple of the celebrities that frequented her establishment.
During that time, she also went on to get her master's degree in world religion at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
She was on a sailing vacation in 1979 that took her from Greenwich, Conn., to Martinique, when she first landed on St. John. Taking an overnight break from the long weeks at sea at Maho Bay Camps, she and a fellow camper had a romance. Both decided to call St. John home.
"I never got back on the boat," she said.
Like most new St. John residents, she worked at a variety of jobs that included stints at some long-closed businesses. They included Islandia, St. John's first health food store, and the Plum Tree. When Bamboula opened, owner Jo Stirling convinced her to make the move.
As for the romance, it's now ancient history, and Porter became a busy entrepreneur in the ensuing years.
"What keeps me here is my love of St. John," she said.
Reach Porter online, or by phone at 626-4658 or 888-676-5701 (toll-free).
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