The following day, the Romneys flew to Utah for a formal "sealing" ceremony at the grand Salt Lake Temple. After a honeymoon in Hawaii, the newlyweds set up house in Provo, where Mitt had enrolled at BYU.
The two children of privilege rented a $62-a-month basement apartment with glued-together carpet remnants covering the cement floor.
"They were not easy years," she said. "Mitt and I walked to class together, shared housekeeping, had a lot of pasta and tuna fish and learned hard lessons."
The young family lived off the proceeds from the sale of American Motors shares — purchased with Mitt's birthday money by his father. Critics would scoff at this self-imposed austerity, but Ann Romney said the couple were determined to make their own way.
"The funny thing is that I never expected help," she told the Globe. "My father had become wealthy through hard work, as did Mitt's father, but I never expected our parents to take care of us."
The couple's first son, Taggart, was born there in 1970.
After Mitt graduated from BYU in 1971, the couple moved to the wealthy Boston suburb of Belmont so he could attend Harvard. Ann took night classes through Harvard's Extension School and completed her BYU bachelor's degree, with a concentration in French, in 1975.
After Tagg, the babies came at fairly regular intervals: Matt in 1971, Josh four years later, Ben in 1978 and Craig in 1981. In between Ben and Craig, Ann Romney lost a child several months into her pregnancy. It, too, was a boy, a source close to Mrs. Romney confirmed. The couple have never spoken publicly about their loss.
It might surprise many people to learn that Ann Romney entered politics long before her husband did.
In April 1977, she was elected to a one-year term representing Precinct 8 on the Belmont town meeting. Among the big issues, says fellow member Maryann Scali: Should the town build a high school?
"She went around and rang every doorbell and got elected," says Scali, now in her 43rd year as a meeting member. "Who could NOT vote for a person like Ann? She was young and beautiful and energetic and enthusiastic and everything a voter wants in a person to represent them."
Records show that Romney had perfect attendance. When her term was up, she went back to the job that has come to define her — mother.
She makes no apologies for that. This year, Democratic commentator Hilary Rosen set off a clamor when she suggested that Ann Romney was unfit to comment on economic matters because she "never worked a day in her life." Ann Romney, in her first-ever tweet, responded by saying: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."
More than a decade would pass before her husband would seek office, but Mrs. Romney played a central role in his decision, too.
In 1992, Edward Davies was staying with the Romneys while undergoing treatment for the prostate cancer that would soon kill him. One day, while Ann was putting away dishes in the kitchen, he grabbed her.
"He said, 'Ann, you've got so much living to do. Think of the exciting things that will happen in the world. I'm so jealous of all the wonders you're going to see in your lifetime,'" she told a reporter. She said her father's words "made me realize that, well, I don't want to look at my life 30 years from now and say, 'Gee, I wish I'd done that.' I don't want to have regrets. I don't want to say, 'I'm sorry we didn't try this or that.'"
A few days later, she told her husband he should run against Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. He lost by 17 points.
Ann Romney threw herself into charity work. She volunteered as an instructor at Boston's Mother Caroline Academy for middle-school girls. She was also a director of Best Friends Foundation, a program aimed at encouraging inner-city girls to abstain from sex, drugs and alcohol.
In late 1997, Ann Romney felt numbness in her right leg, followed by chronic fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.