Villa Collina hosts Marine Birthday Celebration – and Surprise Wedding

Villa Collina recently hosted a 242nd birthday and a surprise wedding – all in one glorious weekend for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The waterfront mansion marked the 242nd birthday of the Marines with a formal ceremony, dinner, specially decorated cake and live entertainment. John Becker, veteran advocate and WBIR-TV anchor, served as master of ceremonies at the celebration and Major General John Ewers, the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant, was guest of honor.

Marines from different decades gathered to mark the same special occasion – the founding of the U.S. Marines on Nov. 10, 1775, by a resolution of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Dr. Eric W. Barton, the owner of Villa Collina and a former U.S. Marine, opened his home, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays, to his fellow Marines.

One Marine and his soon-to-be bride took the celebration one step farther and decided to get married earlier in the weekend at Villa Collina. The couple, along with the pastor, witnesses and children, held a morning ceremony in the mansion’s Caribbean Room and created a picturesque wedding album with photos inside and on the grounds. The pair returned to Villa Collina as a wedded couple for the Marine ball.

The official program for the ball included a message from Gen. Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps: Today, as we celebrate our 242nd birthday, we must remember who we are, where we came from, and why we’re here. We must remember the past, honor those who are no longer with us, focus on today’s battles, and get ready for tomorrow. We can and will prevail as we always have, in any clime and place. But we must prevail together, united by the unyielding spirit in each of us that makes our Corps unique – that willingness to put our Corps and fellow Marines ahead of ourselves.

From newlyweds to birthdays, Villa Collina hosts new beginnings and remembrances.

Photography by Steven Bridges.