Woman in Hospice Who Didn't Have Gown on Wedding Day Wears One 77 Years Later: 'Breathtaking'

Frankie King, 97, celebrated her decades-long marriage with the help of St. Croix Hospice in Iowa

Frankie’s 77th Anniversary
Photo: Hilary Michelson

Thanks to the staff at St. Croix Hospice in Iowa, 97-year-old Frankie King was able to ring in her wedding anniversary in style.

When King married her husband on Sept. 16, 1944, she didn't have a wedding gown to wear on the occasion. But decades later, for the couple's 77th wedding anniversary, King finally got the chance to don a white dress during a reenactment of her wedding hosted by the hospice center on Sept. 24.

The moment was an emotional one for everyone involved.

"It was so hard to keep from crying behind the lens as I got to witness the emotion with this beautiful couple, and the love and compassion that their team poured into preparing this event for them," Hilary Michelson, a photographer and staff member at St. Croix Hospice, tells PEOPLE.

King was helped into the dress by the couple's daughter, Sue Bilodeau, before she walked out to greet her husband, who waited outside by a makeshift altar surrounded by flowers in his Air Force uniform.

"The light in her eyes — I wish everyone could have seen it. She told me she felt so beautiful," St. Croix Hospice Aide Kacie Derr said in a statement to PEOPLE.

"It was so touching to be a part of that," she added. "I've never worked for a company that would do something so wholesome and heartfelt for someone."

To complete the moment, the facility's music therapist played 1940s songs as King walked toward her husband.

Frankie’s 77th Anniversary
Hilary Michelson

"Words cannot express the gratitude our family has for the amazing staff at St. Croix for making this day happen," Bilodeau wrote on social media. "Just to see my Mom looking in her mirror prior to the ceremony and seeing Dad's smile light up when he glimpsed Mom in her beautiful dress. Couldn't see through the tears."

Many on social media were moved by Michelson's photographs, which showed the happy couple in love so many years after they first walked down the aisle.

"Breathtaking moments captured in so many ways," one commenter wrote on Facebook.

RELATED VIDEO: Daughter Uses Her Mother's Wedding Dress For Big Day Reveal

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Michelson said she couldn't have been happier to capture the special occasion.

"My experience in working with end-of-life care has taught me so many valuable experiences," she says. "The most important of them all being that there's going to be a day where all we have are these little moments frozen in time. That's what motivates me behind the camera — making sure I capture those memories for families."

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