For our fifth anniversary, I surprised my wife by flying her to Las Vegas and staging a vow renewal ceremony at an Elvis wedding chapel. It was our thought at that time that every five years seemed like a good opportunity to recommit to each other, and so we started thinking about our tenth anniversary.
Doing a vow renewal every five years would give us the chance to not only reaffirm that we were married to the people that we wanted to be married to, but also to have as many types of weddings as we could ever dream of. Local church wedding? Check. Elope to Vegas and get married by Elvis? Check. Where to go from there? We thought about doing a destination wedding, or getting married on a cruise ship. We thought about having a huge party and basically recreating our first wedding, but with all of the new friends we have made over the past ten years. There are beach weddings, backyard weddings, city hall weddings, and so many more, but all of our favorite ideas seemed to be very expensive, so we ended up not planning any of them.
We did a ton of celebrating for our tenth anniversary. She took me to see Pentatonix. I took her to see Owl City at the balloon festival in Canada. We spent our special day ziplining over a mountain. Really, we were not hurting for celebrations. But earlier in the week we re-watched our video from the Elvis ceremony, and it made me wish that we had planned a renewal after all. The next morning, as I drove in to my planning meeting at the church, it occurred to me that I now have keys to said church. And I have an in with the pastor. And we had originally scheduled our wedding to be at our current church, but due to a secretarial error we lost our spot and had to move the wedding across town. Could this possibly work? Could I actually plan a secret vow renewal ceremony in three days?
Well, the pastor had to check with his wife, but it seemed like he was in, and excited about the idea. I jumped onto Facebook and messaged all of my wife’s friends whose names I could remember, and then I called our family members. Most people were busy and needed more than three days’ notice for Friday evening activities, but both of our families were free, and a couple of our most awesome friends were thrilled to participate as well. Now the hard part was going to be not letting my wife read my mind and figure it all out, as she is wont to do.
I started dropping misleading hints, saying that I had an idea of something fun we could do after dinner on Friday. I told her that it was free, and that I didn’t think we needed a ticket for it, which was true of course, but I was hoping that she would start imagining some sort of show. I also needed to get her dressed up for the event, so I told her that I wanted to go somewhere really fancy for dinner. The kind of place where people dress up to eat. Unfortunately the closest place like that is, well, not in the state of Vermont anyway. Around here, khaki shorts and a three-button short-sleeved polo shirt is acceptable attire for the fanciest of fancies. But I made what I hoped was not an obviously big deal about it, and we got all dolled up and went out on the town.
I chose one of the more popular restaurants in town, and was promised at least a 20 minute wait, which was perfect for my schedule, but somehow my sneaky wife got a table with no wait at all! Not good. She is just too cute to wait 20 minutes for a table. This meant that we left the restaurant about 20-30 minutes too early, and exactly at the time that everyone was going to be gathering at the church. And to make matters worse, she wanted to refrigerate our leftovers from dinner before our secret event, and decided that the church had a refrigerator, and we should just go over there! Ack!
Ben & Jerry’s to the rescue! I suggested some dessert and we managed to kill enough time eating ice cream that I felt okay texting the pastor that we were on our way over. When we got to the church, the big red front doors were wide open and I suggested to my wife that we ought to go in and see what was going on. She was not at all interested in that, and instead went through the basement doors to the kitchen and, once our food was safely chilled, walked back outside to leave. I suggested again that she come check out the sanctuary, but she told me to go and look if I was so interested, and she would wait outside and play with her phone.
What else could I do? I went up by myself. And found only the pastor, playing the piano alone in the dimly lit space. Had something gone wrong? Where was everyone? Well, either way, I had to get my wife up there. So I called down to her and told her that she just had to come see this crazy thing happening up here, and she reluctantly came into the building, probably worried that I was wasting time and we were going to be late to our thing.
As soon as my wife rounded the corner, from out of nowhere, her ninja friend popped up and handed her a bouquet of flowers and we walked down the aisle to the music that we had chosen a decade earlier. And then, out of the choir loft, popped our friends and family members, including our children, to surprise both of us. From there we had a very simple ceremony, using the standard vows that we had said before, but it was full of magic. Our children were there to see it this time, and the people closest to us, and best of all, it was a complete surprise! She had no idea!
I don’t know what we’re doing for our 15th, but if you have any ideas, let me know now. I’d like to plan the next one out a little earlier.