ST. CHARLES – When it came to celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary Wednesday, Emir Abinion wanted to go big.
So while they celebrated at a local restaurant, he surprised his wife, Patricia Abinion, with a two-sided mobile billboard.
The banners on the truck, which are about 15 feet by 20 feet, displayed their wedding photos and a note that said, “Happy 25th” and “I look forward to another 25 more.”
“My wife isn’t too keen on surprises,” he said. “But I thought I would do something special.”
The Abinions, who live in St. Charles, went out for dinner at La ZaZa’s Trattoria in St. Charles on Wednesday – the day of their anniversary – to celebrate.
That’s when Emir Abinion decided to surprise his wife with the billboard, and he said the restaurant staff was able to seat them near a window so they could catch a clear glimpse.
Emir Abinion said his wife had “a little bit of disbelief in her eyes” when she saw the billboard.
“It was a little overwhelming. She said, ‘How about a card next time?’ ” he said. “The staff [at ZaZa’s] got a great kick out of it. It put a smile on everyone’s faces.”
He said he used photos from a ceremony in Maui, Hawaii, a few years ago, when they decided to renew their vows.
That was also a surprise that their two daughters helped plan. The couple originally wed in Chicago after meeting through one of Emir Abinion’s good friends.
“You’ve got to think of the other person before you think of yourself. That’s how you last 25 years,” Emir Abinion said. “It’s a harder milestone to hit. That’s why I wanted to do something special for her.”
Emir Abinion owns Fox Valley Automotive Volkswagen, Buick and GMC, where they often use mobile billboards for marketing, and that’s how he got the idea to surprise his wife.
“Twenty-five years is a milestone, especially in today’s society,” he said. “We live in kind of a throwaway society. People stand in line for 16 hours for a new phone every two years. That’s kind of drilled into our relationships. ... It’s good for people to know that relationships and marriage take work.”