Article #26. Vow Renewals

From the paper of a first wedding anniversary to the diamond of the sixtieth, Hallmark’s string of anniversary gifts sparks feelings both of tenderness & aspiration… tender with keepsake memories and the aspiration to continue making them until death do us part.

You could say the gift schedule is nearly poetic: the fragility and freshness of paper transforming in time to the beauty, resilience, and triumph of a diamond. And may we never overlook the fascinating treasures in-between… wood, copper, silk, lace, silver, travel, clocks, gold, glass, et cetera!

This coming autumn, my husband & I look forward to our fourth wedding anniversary. True to this being our “fruit or flowers” year, our young marriage is comparatively still as fresh and as fragile as fruit or flowers may be! Certainly as soft and sweet.

….Much of the time, anyway.

Austin & I loved our wedding day. We both remember sharing a kiss lit up by sparklers, running off to our getaway car, and marveling all the way to the honeymoon suite about how incredible our day was… and especially how grateful we felt. There isn’t much we would change about that day!

It’s not that we ever fell out of love since that day. Neither have we ever breached our commitment to one another or nearly derailed as a couple. Put simply, the first years of our marriage have seen some of the heaviest things; things beyond our control and tightly packed within the span of our young covenant.

And so even though such events are traditionally reserved for more significant milestones, my husband & I renewed our vows this June! We did not wait for a more poetic Hallmark year, some even number or multiple of five, or even for our original anniversary weekend.

We felt as if the winds were changing, as if a summertime of the soul was finally just around the corner for the first time in our marriage. We knew in our hearts and arrived at our conclusion together, that – for us – this was the right moment.

Song of Solomon 2:11-13, “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!”

This was our anthem; our inspiration.

Recommitting ourselves to one another proved to be one of the most meaningful, emotional, intentional, and healing things we have ever done in life. For us, this was a celebration of all that we have overcome together as well as a hopeful and healing nod toward our future.

Renewing our vows also provided a heartfelt opportunity for us to personally thank and honor those who walked most closely with us through our highest joys and darkest times as a couple. And my, was it dreamy!

Our event was held at the most breath-taking venue overlooking the lake. Every last whisp of air truly escaped my lungs the first time I ever beheld it. We saw a stunning golden hour that hot June evening, and we could hardly believe how favored we felt of God. The entire thing was intimate and simple, with a touch of elegance… just the way we envisioned it.

The ceremony was by far our favorite part. As soon as the clock struck 5:00, A Million Dreams by The Piano Guys began to play sweetly and our mini processional began: first our closest couple who stood with us, then our 10 month old daughter Summer – escorted by her closest uncle, then finally Austin & I. We expressed honor to those present and proceeded to read each other special vows we had written to one another.

Tender. Emotional. Deep. Triumphant. Sweet. Affirming. Sentimental. Assuring. Strong. We felt as if we were sealing up a past age – a difficult though not a bad one – with every line of our personalized vows. There seemed hardly a dry eye, starting with the silent river of tears streaming down my own face, to the point I feared they were ink-black with mascara. Many guests shared later that they got emotional, too. But there was also laughter and smiles and so much love we could burst.

Austin & I will never stop believing that our commitment to each other always comes down to our original wedding vows. That is to say, we don’t need a vow renewal for anything to be fixed or sustained in our marriage. But we’ll never forget how emotional and meaningful and utterly sweet it was to publicly make promises having already experienced life together in the happy, the difficult, and the mundane.

It means something to make vows on your wedding day, not knowing what the future holds. It also means something to have lived at least part way into that future and make specific, additional promises and say “You are still worth every high and low, and I’d marry you all over again!”

How special it was, also, to have our little daughter, Summer, join the occasion! “I love what we are building,” read a portion of my vows, and I glanced at her feeling she is our brightest joy & pride.

So by the end of the ceremony we were pronounced “one blessed husband & wife,” shared a little smooch, and thus moved into the remainder of our celebration.

Our caterer arranged a delicious barbecue spread very true to our style, “Chicken & Brisket.” WHAT. A. FEAST. Everyone enjoyed lovely cocktails on the terrace, admired the incredible lake view, played corn-hole, danced, and socialized. At one point I stood aside to watch the merriment, taking in the number of people who happily stand in our corner (knowing it isn’t nearly all of them)… the golden hour view… my husband’s smile as he conversed across the terrace with dear friends… my baby’s adorable tulle & ruffles… and even the simple decor, some of which was originally used at our wedding. Even the small details were sentimental. I was overwhelmed by gratitude and the goodness of the Lord.

The occasion was gorgeous; happy. We both feel it was far worth everything it took to bring about, and marvel how turned out to be everything we hoped for and more.

Austin & I basked in the afterglow for weeks after that special day.

To think, we had fretted a little about certain things leading up to the event! Would renewing our vows raise eyebrows or start rumors? Was our guest list too small & could it be awkward? Might we hurt those not invited? What if it seemed too “wedding-ish” and corny? Would it seem like a replacement attempt for our wedding day? Might we appear frivolous? And yet, from our perspective it couldn’t have been any closer to perfection. Each one present has stood so closely with us that we could hardly be misunderstood by them.

Our marriage is still as fresh and fragile as fruit or flowers, and we know we have more storms to weather together. There must be more winter seasons to overcome. But we’re on our way to diamonds.

We wouldn’t want to dilute the power or sweetness of public commitment by overdoing it, but there may come a day – decades from now – when we renew our vows yet again!

For now, we’ll hold tightly to each other and celebrate wholeheartedly with anyone who may find it in their hearts to renew their own vows.

Five stars. Two enthusiastic thumbs up. Ten out of ten would recommend.

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