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Maine Governor, Congresswoman Exchange Wedding Vows

February 25, 1989

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) _ Maine’s governor, John R. McKernan, and its only congresswoman, Olympia J. Snowe, exchanged marriage vows Friday in a private ceremony attended by about 100 friends and relatives.

″It was wonderful,″ Snowe said as the newlyweds chatted briefly with reporters outside the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity. Snowe is of Greek descent.

″We walked around the table four times - we did it so well, we did it an extra time,″ McKernan said, jocularly referring to the ceremonial walk that is part of the traditional wedding ritual.

No governor and member of Congress have ever married while both were in office, according to records checked by The Associated Press.

The ceremony in Maine’s second-largest city, adjacent to Snowe’s hometown of Auburn, consummated a romance they have quietly maintained for a decade.

Uniformed and plainclothes state troopers guarded the couple’s privacy at the entrance to the gray church on a suburban hilltop.

About two dozen reporters and photographers waited outside in freezing temperatures, although one still photographer and one TV photographer were allowed inside immediately at the conclusion of the ceremony.

″Wish it could be a little warmer for you,″ Snowe told reporters as she arrived promptly at 4 p.m.

The governor had arrived five minutes earlier. ″Am I on time?″ he asked.

The newlyweds planned to return to the Blaine House, the governor’s mansion 30 miles from Lewiston, for a private reception for wedding guests Friday evening.

Later Friday night, weather permitting, they planned to fly on a friend’s plane to New York City for a honeymoon weekend. After that, they will travel to Washington, where McKernan plans to attend a national governors conference and Snowe will tend to her congressional duties.

About 7,500 people have been invited to a March 4 reception at the Augusta Civic Center; the $10,000 tab will be covered by leftover funds from Snowe’s last campaign.

At the Blaine House, the couple received cards by the hundreds and gifts by the dozen, according to the governor’s social secretary, Sally Bartram.

Most of the gifts came from personal friends and family, but a few were received from strangers who were moved by news of the nuptials. One woman sent the governor a copy of a book that her husband had written before he died; a second woman sent McKernan three crocheted doilies.

″She just said she admires him,″ Bartram said.

McKernan, 40, was divorced from his first wife in 1978. Snowe, 42, was widowed in 1973 when her first husband was killed in a car crash. The governor has an 18-year-old son.

The two met as Republican members of the Maine House of Representatives and served together as the state’s two representatives in the U.S. House in the early 1980s.

McKernan was elected governor in 1986 after two terms in Congress; Snowe is completing her sixth term in Congress.