At the end of October, we held our vow renewal ceremony in our backyard in front of this gazebo that once belonged to my husband’s parents. When his mom passed away five years ago, his father renovated their deck, eliminating the gazebo that had been in place for over 30 years. He asked if we had any use for it, and we jumped at the chance to have a piece of his mother’s memory in our backyard! We went to work on lining up transportation, which required a crane to lift it from where it sat in my father-in-law’s yard in another town, setting it on the truck, driving with caution through our town and ultimately to our house, then using the same crane to take it off the truck and place it beside our pool. As you can imagine, it was quite the undertaking, but we had several knowledgable men in charge who made it happen! Honestly, from the above picture, the gazebo looks like it was made just for that very spot!
Back to the vow renewal …
My husband and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, and he asked me to marry him all over again. Imagine my surprise when our family was gathered around the Christmas tree last year when he presented me with a very special gift. My daughters and son-in-law knew exactly what was waiting behind the wrapping paper, even if I didn’t have a clue at that moment when I was holding it in my hands. With all eyes on me, I started slowly unwrapping the present to find a framed picture. When I turned it around, there was our picture from when we visited Hawaii in October of 2021 with sweet words requesting I marry him all over again. He joked that I may run and then joked that there was no way I was going to do THAT again. But I stood there with tears in my eyes holding the framed picture with the beautiful message regarding renewing our vows in front of family and friends.
If married couples are honest, there are trying times in every marriage, and ours has been no different. I won’t put on this fake image that our entire time together has been sunshine and roses, but I will be realistic in that we have struggled through sorrow and heartbreaking times. The loss of my sister early on when we were just beginning to date is one tragic event that immediately comes to mind, followed by my ruptured ectopic pregnancy which devastated us. We prayed for a baby, and not long after finding out we were pregnant, we went from being filled with excitement to being rushed to the emergency room and prepped for surgery. Although crushed beyond belief and so brokenhearted after losing the baby and one of my tubes, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to have another baby after this great loss which left me with only a fifty percent chance. Even still, I continued to pray through painful procedures, and God not only met me right where I was in a sobbing heap on the floor crying out in my brokenness, but He blessed me the very next year with a beautiful baby girl! Our hearts are forever grateful for her and her big sister!
So yes, we have endured trying and down right gut wrenching times. We experienced the passing of my grandfather three months after losing my sister, then my grandmother a few years after that, and we experienced losing his mother to colon and rectal cancer several years later.
There are other things in between that caused us great heartache, but we managed to prove that love does conquer all. Thank God for forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love.
This vow renewal was not like a typical wedding, of course, since I was already a bride 20 years ago. Instead of wearing a white gown, I decided for a full length navy blue evening gown with shimmers depending on what light I was in. My handsome groom wore a tux with a matching navy blue bow tie. My sweet mother was my matron of honor, and my two gorgeous daughters were my bridesmaids. My humble father walked me down the aisle again, just as he had done 20 years before. My father-in-law was my husband’s best man and stood beside him as our son-in-law officiated the ceremony. Our son-in-law is a praise and worship pastor, and as you can imagine, it was so moving to have him standing there speaking and conducting the service. My heart was so full at that very moment as I stood before my ever so handsome husband and placed my hands in his.
We did not choose the traditional songs either. We have to be different, so my husband, father-in-law, and son-in-law walked in to “Pledging My Love” by Elvis, while my mother and two daughters walked in to “Destiny” from Jim Brickman’s CD. My father and I walked in to “Love of My Life” also from Jim Brickman’s CD featuring Michael W. Smith as the vocalist. During the ceremony, “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill played after our hands ceremony, and as we went to exit, Shania Twain’s “Still The One” declared what our hearts felt as well.
I know without a doubt the impact this ceremony had not just on my husband and I but others witnessing the exchange as well. My father was wiping his tears after the ceremony also. He has always been a strong man, but when he shows his soft side, it truly means something extra special.
I may share the actual written ceremony in the days to come so other couples may take from our ceremony what they feel will bless their lives and their union on their wedding day or vow renewal.
Twenty years and a lifetime still to go!