Sam and Timm were married ten years ago in Vegas. They wanted to renew their vows and so they invited all their friends and family to a party in their own back garden.
“We had originally planned to have a big wedding ten years ago, but we had a few hiccups so we decided to run off to Vegas, keep things small and get married by Elvis instead!” Sam began. “We’d always wanted a big wedding though, so renewing our vows was our chance to do just that. As we didn’t need to worry about any of the legal stuff, we hosted it at home so we could have everything exactly to our taste. We didn’t want to have compromises or restrictions this time!”
The couple have had a tough few years with Sam being very ill, so the vow renewal was also a really amazing way for them to celebrate coming out the other side. “Our renewal fell a year after, almost to the day, of my first life saving surgery so it was a really poignant moment”, she continued. “I had struggled enormously with my self esteem and confidence after the surgeries left my body totally changed. The day was just so amazing. I loved all of it. It was the best day ever from start to finish.”
More than 100,000 get married in Vegas every single year. There is something quite magical about getting away from it all and eloping on your own terms! That’s exactly what photographer Bethan wanted when she and her husband John decided to renew their vows. They wanted to have the day just for them and the only person they brought with them was their wedding photographer, Lisa Jane.
The couple met at 18, when they were both at the same university and have been together ever since. “That first year of university, and every year that has passed since, has been pretty damn awesome”, Bethan told me. “In fact 16 years of adventures and good times have passed and John and I live one of those sickly true love story things but neither of us are embarrassed to shout about it.”
“Our 16th anniversary might seem like an odd year to celebrate in style but the truth be told the year before that been just a little crazy. Renovating our house, putting our heart and souls into our business and just about managing to remind our friends and family that we existed, so we didn’t get a chance to do much at all that year. We had a wonderful wedding six years ago, a brilliant day filled with loved ones and partying, but it passed so quickly. I wouldn’t change a thing about our actual wedding day, and I am from a very close family, but when we decided to renew our vows, we thought it would be fitting for it to just be us. No distractions, no worrying of people were having a good time, just all about me and my boy and our love for each other. It felt a little self indulgent at first but sometimes there is nothing wrong with a little selfishness and celebrating how much you blooming love each other.”
Seven years after their wedding, Cati and Ash renewed their vows. They did so in their own back garden in Johannesburg with just their kids and their photographer in attendance. They wrote their own vows and had them printed on the back of their wedding album, which they read out to each other.
Rebecca from Runaway Romance helped them plan the whole thing. “This in essence was a styled shoot that included my very dear friends letting me take over their home and gorgeous children”, she wrote. “On a deeper much more personal note this was part of my own healing process. It felt like I had been holding my breath for months, watching my friend and her family go through the excruciating stages of cancer treatment. I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t change anything. So when it finally did come to an end, this was my way of exhaling, rejoicing and doing something. For me the point of the afternoon was to celebrate the fact that this family had gone through incredibly hard times and come out not only intact but thriving.”
“When Rebecca originally approached us with the idea of a vow renewal, I did not expect it to be as meaningful and powerful as it was” Cati continued. “She presented us with a moment that was unbelievably beautiful and intimate. She really understood who we are and how we would celebrate. Her attention to detail and her thought behind each aspect really blew me away. We have come so far, and we are not the same kids that promised for better or worse seven years ago. To be able to renew our vows to each other, with our children standing right by our sides, made us realise just how much we have done together and just how much love can accomplish.”
Jana and Denis were married in 2006, just two months after meeting. With the bride being Brazilian and the groom American, there were lots of complications post-wedding. When it was all finally sorted out they travelled to Chile to renew their vows, just the two of them.
“Denis and I met in 2006”, began Jana. “We were both backpacking in Brazil and we ended up on the same bus going to a psy trance festival. Sixty-eight days later we were married in a simple ceremony and three days after that Denis had to return back to the States since his Brazilian visa was expiring. The next few years were extremely hard for us, as we were dealing with immigration issues and a custody battle over my daughter with her Brazilian father. More than a year later, when I was finally able to go to the United States, we just had an intimate dinner reception just to introduce me to his family and few friends. The custody battle was still ongoing and we could never plan anything, just waiting for the court process to decide the future of our family. Finally, seven years after all of this got resolved, we decided to go to Chile, travelling for the first time together as husband and wife, to renew our vows.”
“The renewal of vows was actually surprise to Denis from me and he only found out when we got to the desert!”, she continued. “In the beginning we were just planning a trip, but I knew that travelling to this special place, I could not let the opportunity pass of celebrating our love and confirming our vows in an intimate way. I knew that Denis would not be too enthusiastic about this idea if I planned a staged ceremony with a script. He is extremely introverted and hates to pose for pictures. Also, our budget was pretty tight, so I decided to follow my heart and let something evolve on its own while we are there.”
The inspiration for Jana’s outfit was ‘Patta Hoiri’, which means ‘Mother Earth’. ” I felt an extreme connection with the Mother Earth while I was in Chile”, she said. “When we were married seven years ago I wore black, so this time I wanted to wear white. I did not want be too colourful or glamorous, I wanted some way that I could blend myself with the desert. I painted my face with ‘Urucum’ which is the plant seed that Indians in Brazil use during ceremonies, and wore a custom made ‘Cocar’, a headpiece worn by indigenous tribes. I wanted to honour my ancestors and feel connected to the ancient tribe.”
Hannah, a wedding photographer, and her husband James decided while on holiday in 2013 that they wanted to renew their vows. They decided to do it in France in July this year. They only brought their two children with them as witnesses, but having a great photographer was also really important to them. They booked Jordanna Marston to go out with them from the UK. The ceremony took place on the banks of Biscarrosse Lac.
“We had talked about renewing our vows when we were on holiday in Slovakia in 2013”, began Hannah. “It was such a beautiful place, we were sat by a stunning lake surrounded by mountains, I knew then that I wanted to do our vows by the water somewhere gorgeous! We didn’t want a massive fuss or a party, it was more about us and how we felt about each other and of course our kids. I had a client tell me last year she was having a handfasting ceremony, so after looking it up I thought it was a lovely symbolism and we had Jake and Erin tie ribbons around mine and James’ hands.”
I think a lot of you will know Sassy already. She is an amazing wedding photographer and I’m really lucky because I get to share her incredible weddings all the time. A few years ago she also wrote an article for me about her own wedding photography experience which went kinda viral (read: it was one of my most popular articles of all time!)
So, when she told me that she and her gorgeous husband, Ian, were renewing their vows in Thailand I was really, really excited. Excited for them because they’d finally have the epic photographs they deserved, but extra excited for me and you because I knew she’d let me blog it!
Not only are these photos (by Emma Lucy and Neil Douglas), and the accompanying video (Chris Koch), some of the most incredible I’ve seen in a long time, but the love, emotion and THAT RAINBOW DRESS by The Couture Company (who else?) have completely blown me away!
“I’m not going to dwell on the reason we first considered a vow renewal on our 5th wedding anniversary”, began Sassy. “Yes, people did raise an eyebrow as if to say ‘It’s only 5 years!!’ but hell, you know what, why shouldn’t we celebrate every year!?”
“We decide to renew our vows at the one place we both love equally. Ian and I are quite different people (as chalk and cheese!) and don’t often have the same opinions on anything, so when we both totally fell for Chieow Laan lake and Koh Sok national park I knew this was the perfect place for the renewal… after all it’s paradise! It’s hard to explain how this place gets in to your soul but when I haven’t been in a while I start feeling homesick. Its special and magical!”