Our “Story”-Themed Anniversary Vow Renewal

Our “Story”-Themed Anniversary Vow Renewal

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary, so it only seemed fitting for me to take a trip down memory lane and share some of the details behind our intimate vow renewal that we held for some close family and friends back in 2013. It was our fifth anniversary, and we had gone through some very testing times in our marriage that nearly resulted in our separation.

Our photographers, Orange Turtle Photography, submitted their photos to Style Me Pretty, and our celebration was featured on there. This was the blurb I had written back then, and I’d love to take the rest of this blog post to tell the story of the thought behind some of the details.

From 2013: “Five years may seem like a short time to renew our vows, but for us, there was so much to celebrate.  We almost didn’t make it.  We hit a breaking point in the third year of our marriage, when things got so bad that we seriously considered separation.  As a last resort, we tried couples therapy.  Through some breakthrough moments where God really met us, a lot of hard work, and the support of our loved ones, we came such a long way that it only seemed natural to celebrate this milestone.

The day was as much about our journey as it was about honoring our friends and thanking them for the ways they supported us.  We held our intimate gathering up in the Malibu mountains at Rancho del Cielo, a small cottage where the owners still reside.  It had an intimate backyard feel yet was elegant with its breathtaking views of the coast.  

The inspiration and subtle theme for our event was around “good stories”.  In the best stories, there always comes a point when you don’t know if the protagonist is going to make it, and the journey of how they do is what makes the story.  We felt like that has been a picture of our marriage.  The subtle theme lent itself well to the overall look and feel we were going for – rustic, literary, and rich in love and depth.  We brought it to life in the details: the design of our paper goods was reminiscent of a book page; actual pages from classic novels were incorporated into our signage; and our centerpieces featured classics or books on relationships.  As the goal was to honor and thank our guests, we also wrote individual thank-you notes and handmade each favor.  The men received cufflinks featuring handpicked quotes we knew they would appreciate, and the women received a personalized necklace.

Everything about the day was perfect.  We felt so blessed to be surrounded by a community who loved and supported us through the toughest of times.  In a way, the day was so much sweeter than our wedding day, because even though we know how hard marriage can be, we were still choosing to say yes.

It all started off with our celebration invitation. I contacted an independent designer I found off of minted.com whose aesthetic I liked and commissioned her to help us design our invitation. I wanted our invitation to be the first taste of our theme by being reminiscent of reading a book, yet simple, minimalist, and humble. After several rounds of creative direction and design, we landed on a combination of typefaces that felt like an old printing press combined with a modern handwritten script. The borders were meant to feel like they were introducing a new chapter of a book, with our names designed to be reminiscent of a bookmark. To add to the rustic feel, I hand tied a thin jute string to hold it all together and stuffed them into simple kraft paper envelopes.

This theme would then be echoed throughout our celebration, as soon as our guests stepped in. I DIY’d our welcome sign using letter cutouts I printed on to textured paper of a typeface that looked like handstamped letters pasted on a kraft cardstock backing. I then pasted the letters on actual pages from an old copy of Pride and Prejudice I picked up at goodwill, mounted on some mint cardstock to match our color scheme, and hung it across the table using a thick jute twine.

I made a smaller mini banner in a similar manner to hang on our card box. The card box itself was a cardboard box I found at Michael’s that was decorated to look like a book when it was closed. We set it up next to some classic novels.

In lieu of a guestbook, we had our guests write little handwritten notes on scraps of paper that we would collect and eventually add to a scrapbook from the day. The papers were roughly cut out of cardstock in our theme colors and kraft paper, and we displayed it in a simple gardeners box I picked up for $5, also from Michael’s.

Because of the intimate nature of the event, plus the fact that it wasn’t meant to be a grand event like a formal wedding, we wanted it to have a backyard feel. The venue was actually a small cottage in the Malibu mountains, a little house where the owners actually reside. The ceremony was in their backyard and the reception in the front. As guests arrived, they were able to enjoy some simple refreshers reminiscent of a casual summer gathering.

The ceremony itself was atypical. We had our pastor, who was one of many who played a critical role in our healing process, facilitate. He spoke some encouraging words, but he also wanted this event to be an opportunity for us to share our testimony of how we ended up here. He conducted it interview style, allowing us to tell our story in our own words in a guided way, that painted a beautiful picture that truly displayed God’s fingerprints throughout our story. We concluded by each sharing new vows we had written in light of what we had learned through the process we went through.

It was special to have both of our brothers/brothers-in-law lead worship with the song “Cornerstone.”

While most of our local LA and church friends walked with us through our journey, some of our close friends from out-of-state were hearing the details of our struggles and how God led us through for the first time. It was incredibly special to have this group of slightly less than sixty people come celebrate with us.

Following the ceremony, it was time to celebrate! Guests were treated to some simple refreshments made fresh from selections from the local farmers market.

For their namecards, again, I wanted it to be reminiscent of our theme. We hung them from a tree using sheer ribbon, with each guest’s name printed in the same typeface as on our invitations.

Our table decor continued the theme. All of the paper goods were handmade, using a similar process to our welcome sign. Our centerpieces included florals in our theme colors, along with classic romance novels or books on relationships. We also accented the tables with some tea lights in mason jars we handfrosted ourselves and tied some raffia around.

At each place setting, we also included a small gift and thank you card for each guest. Each card was handwritten from both of us, with a note thanking the individual for their friendship and the specific role they played in our journey. The “party favors” were actually little individual gifts to show our appreciation for their friendship and uniqueness. For the men, I handmade cufflinks using either Bible verses or quotes that we felt represented each person. This was done by printing them on some textured paper, cutting them out to shape, and gluing on using a glaze glue designed for glass. And for the ladies, we made handstamped necklaces with their first initial on them.

A few other fun little touches. Our “signature drinks” were cocktails we made up that reflected the personalities of our pets!

We also had a little polaroid station set up for our guests to take some snapshots that would go in the scrapbook. They were able to display them on a gate that was on site. We uploaded the images after so they could keep a copy.

One of the most memorable moments was when one of our friends led the toast. This couple was instrumental to our healing journey, as it was through their friendship, vulnerability, and the way the ministered to us that really led to the initial breakthrough for us (as we were all sitting on the floor of their living room!). It was so special to have them come all the way from Texas to join us.

He gave us some beautiful prophetic words as well as affirmations from our friends and family. It was truly such a special moment of the night. Our videographer captured it so perfectly.

A few additional decor details. We served cupcakes from one of our favorite local bakeries, Susiecakes, and coffee from Cafe Tomo on Sawtelle.

Such a fun walk down memory lane. Thanks for reading along and reliving this special milestone with me!