In the downstairs Cove Suite of The Waters Edge at Giovanni's, 2748 Boston Post Road, five couples stood facing and embracing each other while Conn. Justice of the Peace Mary C. Pugh officiated her third annual free Valentine's Day Wedding or Vow Renewal ceremony at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"This ceremony is a symbol of your journey together through life," Pugh said to the couples, while Pachelbel's "Canon" played from speakers and the reflection of candles danced on the water outside.

Pugh asked the couples to remove their wedding rings, close their eyes and send a special wish or message to the rings. Upstairs, the next group lingered by the bar or ate dinner before it was time to renew their vows.

"It's a group ceremony because that's a part of the idea," Pugh said. "That communal thing, surrounded by people who love each other."

Pugh had one spouse from each couple take the other's ring and place it on their finger, repeating the vows after her lead. One man dropped his ring.

"It's good luck if you drop it," Pugh said, stirring a chuckle from the group.

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Among the five couples were Robert and Heather Salaga of Danbury, who married more than six years ago and had their wedding reception at The Waters Edge. Heather was pregnant when they renewed their vows Tuesday night.

"It's kind of a way to incorporate the baby into our marriage," Heather said.

The couple celebrates each anniversary at The Waters Edge. When they received an e-mail inviting them to renew their vows, Heather said it took her all of 20 seconds to sign up.

"We got married young," Robert said. "Then, we were very much in love, but I don't think you appreciate life as much at that time, and now we really cherish everyday, to live, love, and laugh everyday, and really focus on that as the center of what's important to us, where back then it was the next natural progression of our relationship."

Pugh said the event has attracted couples of all different ages that have been married for any length of time. On Tuesday night, one couple had been married for less than a year. Another couple was celebrating their 20th anniversary.

The event has also attracted couples of different sexual orientations in the past.

"We've had heterosexual and same-sex couples," Pugh said. "The first time I did (the renewal), we had more same-sex couples than we had heterosexual couples. This is just a nice way for Giovanni's to give back to the community, and for me as a Justice of the Peace to promote romance."

While the couples continued to give their vows, Michele Esposito, director of catering at The Waters Edge, poured champagne into glasses for a celebratory toast.

"It's all complimentary," Esposito said. "The guests can come in to renew their vows or to get married here for free. The added perk is that if they want to stay for dinner, they can have something to eat, then go downstairs. If they choose not to, it's okay too."

After the champagne toast, the couples received a certificate for their vow renewal.

"(It was a) beautiful turnout," Esposito said. "Very special and very moving to see a couple renew their commitment to love. It's beautiful to see. It's all different emotions, but you can really see the connection."

Esposito, who normally plans weddings at The Waters Edge, will get married herself in the restaurant's Swan Ballroom in July. As the director of catering, she helped plan the Valentine's Day event with Pugh.

Pugh addressed the couples for a final blessing.

"May I remind you, as you must all know, that saying your vows is one thing but nothing is more challenging than living them day by day," Pugh said. "What you promise today must be renewed tomorrow and each day that stretches out before you."

Esposito said the event will take place again next Valentine's Day.