As I promised in my Two Years Down… post, here’s the story behind the recent vow renewal I surprised my husband with during our anniversary vacation to Hawaii. I know it’s more typical to do a vow renewal after a big milestone anniversary, but I decided to do it this year for a very distinct reason. This last trip to Hawaii was the first for my mother, mother in law, and kids, so I wanted to make it extra special. Since both my mom and mother in law think Hawaii is a bit far to travel, I knew that this would probably be the only time I would be able to have us all there at one time. Keeping this secret was a hard one, but I fibbed to the family, and told them all we were going to take family photos on the beach. It’s safe to say now that they totally don’t trust me anymore!
Once I’d made the decision to go ahead with the vow renewal, I then had to find the right officiant with an opening on my anniversary date (August 7th). While searching for a vow renewal package on the Big Island, I came across Aloha Fun Weddings, and was intrigued by the offerings listed in the Big Island Photo Pro Package. Deciding that this was the package I wanted, I reached out to the officiant Reverend Stefan Leiste via email, and discussed with him exactly what I needed. People surprising their spouses with a vow renewal must not be a new thing for him because he took it all in stride! Having been to Kona the year before, I knew that a beach wedding anytime after 12 pm would be extremely uncomfortable. In order to make sure that none of us passed out before the end, I scheduled our ceremony to begin at 10:30 am HST. A rabid sentimentalist, this time was not picked at random, but in fact is the exact same time we were first married two years earlier (minus the six hour time difference).
The above video is from our last day in Kona, but I’ve inserted it so you can see how lovely and secluded this location was for our ceremony. This was shot around 5 pm, so the full loveliness of it is a bit off, but I’m so glad I picked this location! Reverend Stefan suggested this spot to me, and his wife Tatyana was able to use it to its full potential when it came to our photo shoot.
Another point that helped me choose Aloha Fun Weddings for this special occasion is that the ceremony could be fully customized on what I wanted. Since my husband was obviously not in on the plan, I had to let Reverend Stefan know how religious a ceremony we wanted. Now had I wanted a totally non-denominational ceremony, then that is an option offered by Reverend Stefan in case you’re wondering about this issue. Since two very different sects of Christianity encompass my family, I decided to have a Christian ceremony that did not focus on one belief system over another. An example of this is that we did not say the Lord’s prayer at any time during the ceremony, but instead Reverend Stefan blew a conch shell in the four directions as a nod to Hawaiian tradition.
Since our first wedding was a destination wedding in South Florida, we asked a very good friend of mine to get herself ordained, and she married us in front of our guests. As this was a vow renewal not wedding ceremony, I wanted it to be fun and somewhat casual instead of fussy and stuffy. Reverend Stefan gave me exactly what I asked for (and no, this is not a sponsored post) without me having to lay everything out for him step by step. As we gathered in the shade of a tree, he began the ceremony while his wife Tatyana unobtrusively made her way around us taking snaps from afar. Another thing I liked about this company is that they allowed me to set up my own camera to record the ceremony. Some of the other companies I looked at had a very strict policy regarding this, and so I was not going to use them. With the waves crashing in the background, Rev Stefan talked about the meaning of love and how my husband and I need to continuously work on our marriage to make sure it lasts. Having been married for two years now, we knew this, but hearing it again along with stories of the Hawaiian culture made it so much more significant.
I haven’t yet decided on whether or not I plan to publicly post the vow renewal video I recorded, but here are some pictures from the ceremony. I am not including any of the kids due to their age, and know for a fact my mom and mom in law are too shy to have their photos plastered over the internet. I think if the option is open to you then a wedding or vow renewal in Hawaii (particularly on the Big Island) is an excellent idea! Whether you choose a smaller company like Aloha Fun Weddings or use one of the numerous resorts on the island that offer this service, I truly feel like you’ll be extremely pleased! Reverend Stefan’s site is linked above, but to contact him directly email contact @alohafunweddings.com. The following photos were taken by his lovely wife Tatyana, and she was also a dream to work with. Enjoy!