On 13 December 2015 Neil and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! I’ve been toying with the idea of renewing my vows for a while and even shared it with my family, who for the most part thought it was a joke, considering we already married.
20 years ago Neil and I didn’t have the elaborate wedding; in fact it was small and intimate with only family and friends. I was never one of those girls who dreamt of a fairy tale wedding, all I longed for was finding my prince charming and I found him in Neil. When we tied the knot we were only too eager to carve out a life for ourselves and rear our children.
I’m incredibly blessed to have an amazing husband. He has been the foundation of my happiness from the moment our paths crossed, loves me unconditionally and supports me in every venture I undertake. When I reminisce on the love we share, one thing crosses my mind over and over – that I would marry him in a heartbeat again. And that was my wish for our 20th anniversary – to take the plunge (again)!
I relayed the idea to my creative friend, Candice Sonnenberg just over a month before the anniversary and she thought it was idyllic and was eager to assist. My heart was set on a beach wedding, with just our girls, Candice and her husband and Esmeralda and hers to officiate our vows. Once I got the buy in from them, I found the nerve to discuss my plans with Neil.
Needless to say Neil wasn’t impressed! He is a very practical guy and in his mind, we’ve already married and couldn’t understand what the purpose of a vow renewal would serve in our marriage. He is also an extremely private person and does not like to be the centre of attention. Even though I explained till I was purple in the face that it would be a few people, he was not happy with my plans.
Doubt started creeping in and I had to go back to the drawing board and consider the reasons why I wanted this vow renewal in the first place. Pondering over our anniversaries I couldn’t recall many of them as they’d become mediocre as the years rolled by. An anniversary should be a commemoration of times shared together, an appreciation of struggles your partnership faced and celebrated in an intimate and spectacular manner. But in reality, with the busy lives we lead, most married couples just head out for a quick supper and the day is easily forgotten. I didn’t want that to happen on our 20th anniversary – I wanted it to stand out as an unforgettable day, one that would stay with us for a long time to come.
I gave Neil some space and then stated my case. I could sense he still wasn’t completely convinced, but his resolve was cracking and I took it as a small victory to continue my plans:). I booked hotel rooms for the girls and us at the Cape Milner in Tamboerskloof on the special day. We scouted around for beaches that wouldn’t be full of tourists, a tall order considering it was December, finally settling on Noordhoek, an isolated, open and quiet beach – perfect for a vow renewal:).
At this stage Neil was still apprehensive but he was preoccupied with work and gave me carte blanche – much to my joy. Candice and I were putting the finishing touches to our ideas and as the countdown began, I was bubbling with excitement.
The 13th of December 2015 commenced on a quiet note as we awoke in each other’s arms, whispering “happy anniversary in unison”. I was ecstatic this day had finally arrived but also felt a tad nervous – as if I was getting married for the first time! We had written our own vows and were going to recite them at the ceremony, something we hadn’t done the first time and I had a few butterflies fluttering around.
By lunchtime, we’d checked into the hotel and were taken aback by the hospitality we received. I’d mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary and they spoilt us by adorning our bed with rose petals and created a towelled heart in the shape of two swans. They also laid out a delicious platter of sweet treats, juicy strawberries and whipped cream!
We chilled for a bit and enjoyed the comfort of the room. Soon the frenzy of getting ready began as Zhane curled my hair. I sought an understated look as we had flower crowns to adorn our heads and bridal bouquets to hold. Since the wedding was being held at the beach, I chose a white goddess dress with gold trimmings, Zhane opted for lace and Lakeisha complimented us in a summery one. Neil looked dashing in a casual white shirt and sandstone skinny.
All prepped and preened we journeyed to our destination. It was a beautiful sunny day to take in the sights and sounds of the gorgeous mother city, Noordhoek beckoning in the distance. As I embarked out of the car, a gust of wind flung the door open and my wish for a perfect beach day was crushed! My just-styled hair flew wildly, sea sand slapped us and my expectations were sinking as we searched out our wedding party.
Candice and Esmeralda had already found a cocoon between the rocks that kept the wind at bay. As time was of the essence, Candice photographed us before the sun could set. Our ceremony proceeded promptly at 18h30 with Peter playing the guitar and Esmeralda serenading the “Power of love”. I was overfilled with joy – the intimate setting of our party, the crashing waves, the love of my life and our girls beside us, it is a moment that will stay with me forever.
Esmeralda began with the solemnisation of our vows as Neil and I clasped hands. Zhane was called upon to say a few words on her first-hand experience of our relationship. Her words were poignant, brought tears to my eyes and I felt incredibly proud to have such a beautiful soul in my world.
The moment of reckoning came when we had to utter own vows. Neil was first up and although he was uneasy, he bravely conveyed a message that brought tears to my eyes. My turn arrived and drawing in a deep breath, I shared my vows with the man I adored.
Esmeralda took the reigns and continued with the final leg of the ceremony. Lakeisha was called forward bearing our rings as we expressed our commitment to each other. We were pronounced man and wife and sealed the moment in a kiss and I was floating on happiness.
We danced to our wedding song “through the years” by Kenny Rogers. As Neil swirled me around, he whispered “thank you my love… I love you,” and I was glad I’d thrown caution to the wind and commemorated our 20th anniversary.
Our vow renewal will forever be engraved in my heart:).