Photographs by Emily D Photography.
“It was everything I imagined and then some. My husband and I were both thrilled with the attention Laura gave us and our kids and the beautiful memory she created for the four of us. Our day was so special and will be remembered fondly thanks to Laura.” – Jennifer
Jennifer and Dave had been together for twenty years, and married for ten. During that time, they had faced some challenges, and their lives transformed when they became parents to a son and daughter. A vow renewal seemed the perfect way to reaffirm their commitment and appreciate how far they had come together, in a more intimate and informal atmosphere than their wedding day.
Their renewal took place on a gorgeously sunny November morning in the Founders Lodge of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in front of the picture window looking out on the fall trees. To begin, Jennifer, Dave and their children were each invited to place a beautiful fall leaf on the ceremony table, one they had selected on a family walk together. The leaves represented the uniqueness and love they each bring to their family.
Dave and Jennifer removed their wedding rings and placed them into a special bowl on the table, and the children were invited to sit nearby in some comfy chairs while we told a story about their parents. After Jennifer and Dave took hands, I shared some of their memories of their early days as a couple , about their wedding day, and how their son and daughter were born into their family circle. As I told the story of their arrival each child joined their parents, all holding hands in a circle of love.
Then it was time for Dave and Jennifer to reflect. It was beautiful to watch them react as they each heard me share the other’s words of admiration and love for them. I used their words to express what they each learned about themselves through their relationship and their gratitude for their strengths as a couple.
“Your shared experiences have revealed and confirmed a wonderful truth: that…the roots of your relationship run deep, giving your marriage and underlying, unbreakable strength.”
Jennifer and Dave made vows to one another that they wrote themselves. The words were touching, authentic and, based on the looks and smiles I saw, contained some references and meaning only known to them. The honesty and closeness radiated between them as they reconnected with one another.
Following the vows, the children were invited to warm their parents’ wedding rings by holding them and infusing them with love and happy memories before Jennifer and Dave exchanged them. To add a spontaneous touch to the ceremony, the children were then each invited to randomly select one of five questions to ask Mommy and Daddy about their future together.
For a unity ritual, they had requested something with a touch of Canadiana. As a family, they enjoy having pancakes with maple syrup, so we used the metaphor of the sugar maple to talk about love’s strength and resilience. All together they each put a finger into the bowl of maple syrup and then tasted it, saying in unison “Love makes life sweet!”
“Every time you have pancakes, you can begin your meal this way, dipping a finger into the syrup on your plate and saying these special words to remind one another of this anniversary day, and of how love makes our lives that much sweeter.”
To end the ceremony, we finished with a blessing on their family and their love as they stood in a circle again, holding hands.
“Jennifer and Dave, the seed that grew into this circle of four began when you found one another and fell in love. Ten years ago you took your first steps forward as husband and wife. Let today be another such beginning… …I invite you to celebrate your renewal with a kiss.”
It was truly a privilege to witness, the love and connection between Dave and Jennifer and for the four of them as a family. What could have been a simple exchange of vows had become something far richer and deeply symbolic. It was touching and beautiful and fun, and has inspired me to make our 20th anniversary, this summer, an opportunity for reflection, gratitude and renewal.
Do you have a milestone anniversary approaching, or simply feel it’s time to reset and replenish? Let’s talk about what would make it meaningful, memorable, and a catalyst for the relationship you want to continue to grow together.
© 2016-7 Laura Higgins, Life-Cycle Celebrant Portrait Ceremonies