Geeky Five-Year Anniversary Vow Renewal in a French Convent

Moonrise Photography

November 26, 2017

Lysiane and Thomas got married on 28th July 2012. Five years later they decided to renew their vows. As their original wedding was quite traditional, they wanted their vow renewal to really feel like ‘them’, and celebrate their geeky sides!

“We are both nerds, so we didn’t have to look far to find inspiration,” said Lysiane, “but our main theme was celebrating our love and family and the path we’ve walked since we got married. I think every couple knows what it takes to be happy, and we’ve overcome mountains and tsunamis (plus a kid!) Also we wanted to do the simplest thing ever, not bothering with social pressure and conventions as we did for our wedding. This time, we wanted it to look like us, be like us, and feel like family.”

They had just 30 guests (to make the day more intimate) and spent only €4000, helped massively by the fact they didn’t have to hire a venue,. “Our vow renewal was held in my departed grandmother’s house which is a former convent and that we are actually going to buy from my dad since he doesn’t want to keep it! It’s the place I spent holidays when I was a child and where I lived as a student since it was near Toulouse University where I studied. I wanted to get married there so bad in 2012 but everyone advised against it so we ended up in a vineyard (great place but no childhood memories there). So when we started planning our renewals, there was no way we could have gone anywhere else but in my grandma’s convent!”

For their ceremony they wanted to do something symbolic which was as meaningful to them both as the exchange of rings had been in their original wedding ceremony. “The thing we struggled the most with was the ritual for our ceremony”, she explained. “We wanted something meaningful other than a ring exchange since, well, we’ve already been married for five years! We settled for a made up ritual of ‘burning fears’. Since our motto is ‘faire feu de tout bois’ (‘fire on all cylinders’ or ‘make fire of every wood’) we wanted to literally burn something! So we took time apart before the ceremony to reveal our fears past, present, and future to each other and write them down before going out and burning them. The symbolic value we saw in it is to share your fears with your other half, listen to your other half’s fear, welcome them, embrace them, and let them all go since you have absolute trust in yourself, your other half, the couple you make and your capacity to overcome every difficulty life will put in your way. It required introspection of many weeks to acknowledge both our fears and find the strength to tell them to each other, but it was amazingly freeing and hugely positive!”

As weddings can be in real life, not everything run 100% smoothly on the day. They had to stop mid-ceremony because their three year old needed a nappy change(!) and they forgot the cake and at guest book! “In 2012, inspired by 8bit art, we decided that our guest book would be a Stormtrooper made out of post-it note sized squares of black and white papers. People filled them in, we put them in frame and there was our Stormtrooper guest book. We wanted to take the blank notes out of the frame for our renewals in order to have guests complete them and WE FORGOT! Never mind, we’ll have them filled for our 10 years anniversary! We also forgot to get out our cheese wedding cake (an actual cheese cake, made out of French cheeses) in the evening, so instead got it out for brunch on the Sunday morning!”

Also, on the morning of their vow renewal Lysiane decided to completely change her hair! “On the morning of the D-day, I decided on a side/ pixie haircut which was also a surprise for everyone! Everyone pictured me quite traditionally since our wedding wasn’t that alternative even if it was geeky. Anais, my photographer, was shocked and amazed I had the ovaries (because balls are overrated, right?) to do it. It was quite fun, and even funnier when she asked Valerie, my hairdresser, to cover the mirrors. So I FELT my hair dropping but didn’t SEE anything until it was over (hence my face on the pictures)! My favourite part of the day was when my son first saw me all made up, “He said ”Est belle maman!’ and caressed my side cut hair, he was amazed like he had just discovered hair can be cut! Precious, precious, precious moment I’ll never forget!”

Lysiane also had a bit of a disaster when it came to her dress, “I had a hell of a time with my outfit. We were supposed to wear our wedding outfits but I wanting to surprise my husband, Thomas, with a Chotronette dress (again, in 2012 I didn’t want to wear white but social pressure had me in a white princess dress…). I ordered the dress of my dreams but Chotronette emailed me the dress was out of stock and I was able to order it only due to a bug on their website. I ended up with an emergency solution: A lingerie bodysuit from Charlott’ Lingerie that Thomas gave me two years ago and a tulle skirt ordered from Lucille and Irma in the US since I couldn’t find someone in France to do it! Thomas was so surprised, I love his face on the first look pictures! I was initially disappointed I couldn’t wear a Chotronette dress, but luckily it turned out great in the end! On my head I wore a simple bow made from upcycled tube and wore a pair of Vans trainers from their Nintendo limited edition collection.”

They spent the most money on their photographer and videographer, “BECAUSE MEMORIES ARE IMPORTANT! Memories are the only things left after a wedding or any event. Of course you have the dress, the shoes, the rings… But there’s nothing else that can make you re-live the day like photographs and videos. We can never ever insist enough on how important these things are, even more than the dress, suit and food! Our photographer and videographer were a friend, Anais, and her brother, Théo. We met at a wedding fair for alternative geeky couples that I created called ‘Wed In Geek’ since I’m a wedding photographer myself, love alternative weddings and quite frankly French wedding trends are far from what us nerds dream of! We became friends at first sight with Anais and even though we have opposite artistic styles we didn’t want anyone else but her as a photographer for our vows renewals! Artistic style is one thing, but friendship is another. And hiring a friend who is also a great professional photographer was the best decision ever! Her pictures really reflect our relationship and who we are (a simple geeky crazy family). She delivered the perfect pictures only a (very talented and close) friend would know to take.”

The best thing about planning their vow renewal was the simplicity of it all compared to planning their original wedding. “Gosh renewing vows is better than wedding! It’s a bit like sex: The first time is great because you’re discovering the person you love but it is nothing compared to what happens when you know each other! We learnt so much from our wedding in 2012, we wouldn’t change a thing about our vows renewals! But we’d definitely told the 2012-us to throw some people out of our lives and do whatever the hell felt like me, like him, like us.”