They say rain on your wedding day is the mark of a happy marriage, and if the weather was any indication for Cynthia Riggs and Howard Attebery on Saturday evening, the couple will be together for a very long time.
Ms. Riggs and Dr. Attebery, who married in May to grey skies and stormy weather, welcomed neighbors, friends and Islanders to a community potluck at their home on Saturday evening to continue the celebration. The couple married over Memorial Day weekend after spending more than 60 years apart.
The festivities lasted about 30 minutes around the fish pond at their West Tisbury home, the Cleaveland House, before rain forced the celebration indoors. As party goers rearranged the potluck in quick fashion and the Vineyard Classic Brass band moved their music stands to the salon, Ms. Riggs arranged a small vase of four leaf clovers she had found in her garden.
“We're blessed by the rain,” Ms. Riggs said, her blouse and pleated pants drenched.
The couple first met while working at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego in the summer of 1950, sorting and counting plankton. Ms. Riggs was 18 at the time and Dr. Attebery 28; the two became friends and passed secret messages to one another through cryptograms.
Ms. Riggs and Dr. Attebery went on to live separate lives that fall, she to Antioch College and he remained in California. The two fell out of touch for the next 60 years.
But on a cold January day in 2012, Ms. Riggs received a package with no return address. The package contained a stack of the secret messages they had sent one another, and one additional note:
“I have never stopped loving you,” it said.
The love story that has captured hearts across the country first came to light at a storytelling performance held at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs for the Moth Radio Hour last year. Ms. Riggs left the audience in suspense, with a ticket in hand to visit Dr. Attebery.
The story continued that fall. After spending two hours together, Dr. Attebery proposed.
Ms. Riggs is 82, Dr. Attebery is 91.
Green, yellow and purple ribbons hung over the Clevealand House sign on their wedding day still wafted in the breeze on Saturday as well wisher streamed into the home with deviled eggs, coffee cake, quiche and salads. The centerpiece was a cake with a quotation that Dr. Attebery gave at the wedding ceremony: "Love is a great place to spend the rest of your life."
Ms. Riggs and Dr. Attebery exchanged hugs with guests before taking up residence on a couch in the main room.
“I love your beautiful quote, it was a great source of inspiration,” one guest said to Dr. Attebery.
Rosemary Clough, a summer visitor, came down from her home in New Hampshire just for the potluck.
“I've followed with great interest your beautiful story,” she told the couple. Ms. Clough attended Ms. Riggs's reading of her story at The Moth last summer. “I wanted to be here for this special occasion.”
Ms. Clough said Dr. Atteberry's move to rekindle their relationship was “adventurous.”
“She left us suspended after the Moth and I was so excited for them,” Ms. Clough recalled. “I cut out all of the Gazette stories and shared them with all of my yoga students in New Hampshire.”
Ms. Clough said she was delighted to be a part of the celebrations.
“In a world full of negativity, it's such good news,” she continued. “They have a long life ahead of them.”
For more photos of Saturday's potluck gathering, see the gallery Community Celebration for Newlyweds Cynthia Riggs and Howard Attebery.