Not too long ago I got an itch – I wanted photos, good ones, of DRL and I. We aren’t that couple that has a million and one arm-extended-say-cheese phone photos of our adventures together. We would be hard pressed to find even a handful of those. What we do have of us together – where I’m not all puffy and post-explusion-of-a-wombfruit – is limited to photos of us at friends’ weddings and our own lackluster wedding photos. Our wedding photos, though properly exposed and edited well, and though they cost nearly what I charge for a wedding now, aren’t awesome by any stretch of the imagination. They didn’t capture anything special about us – about our wedding day. They’re simply pretty pictures. And I wanted more for us.
While we’re still young (read: while I’m still relatively pretty, free from significant wrinkles, and only slightly jiggly).
DRL didn’t quite see the need for such an expenditure. I tried to convince him to do a vow renewal. I mean, we’ve been married eight years – we made it past the seven year itch, and have outlasted the average marriage. That’s totally cause for celebration. But again, the level-headed practical man that is my husband vetoed me. “Vow renewals are for people who’ve been married 25 years,” he said. “We’ll do it then.”
“But Heidi Klum and Seal renewed their vows every year.”
“Yeah. How did that work out for them?”
So I gave up.
Or so he thought.
Inspired by Jenn Stark, I contacted my dear friends Derrek Sullivan and Clayton Austin to ask if they’d be interested in shooting a super secret surprise vow renewal. Since our wedding anniversary had come and gone, I explained I wanted to hold the re-wedding on our eleven year togetherversary in October. They both said yes, and I set in motion the most elaborate scheme this side of Blair Waldorf. I told DRL that Clayton was coming to Minnesota to hold a Share the Goodness Workshop, similar to the one I attended in January in Texas. Much like that workshop, there would be a live shoot, and DRL and I were going to model for it. He hesitantly agreed, but still, he agreed. I purchased plane tickets for Clayton and Derrek, and when American Airlines showed up on our credit card statement, simply explained that my friend Dayna was surprising her husband with a trip to Vegas and not to worry, it’ll get paid. “Oh. Okay,” was all he said. I then proceeded to style the shoot, compile an awesome list of crazy talented vendors, and pick out the wardrobe for DRL, the girls, and me.
(My dress? Free People. And I’m sort of obsessed with it and kind of want to wear it everywhere all the time. But I digress…..)
As the day drew closer the lies began to build and my stress was almost palpable. DRL and I don’t keep things from each other – and that’s not some trite wife thing to say. We don’t. Literally. We have no secrets – and as such keeping this from him was remarkably difficult. Not to mention the fact that in the 11 years we’ve been together the only thing I’ve managed to surprise him with was the gender of our children, but only because it was also a complete surprise to me as well. I’m talking about a guy who once correctly guessed that a Christmas gift was the Indiana Jones triology on DVD – though he didn’t ask a soul for it (not even Santa).
The fact that I kept this a secret is probably my largest accomplishment. Ever.
Tuesday came just like any other day in our house. I got up, got ready for work, kissed everyone goodbye and headed out. But I didn’t go to work. I went to the doctor to get my sliced finger inspected and re-bandaged into something a little….less noticeable (more on this in a later post). I went to Target for blueberries and pistachios. I went for my first updo since my own wedding. And I went to set up the biggest and most incredible day of my life since the birth of my girls. (but not before I went to work to respond to an email DRL sent me, so as to maintain the charade).
I’ll spare you the rest of the play by play, and simply leave you with the amazing video that Derrek shot of our day.
Athena + Darrell: A surprise vow renewal. from Sullivan Films on Vimeo.
And then I’ll simply direct you to Clayton’s images.
And I’ll tell you that this was the best day ever. That I am madly in love with what Derrek, Clayton, and I managed to create (with a lot of help from some crazy awesome people!) and that I cannot imagine my life without DRL in it. Without him as my husband, or as a father to our girls, or as the guy that constantly rolls his eyes at my ridiculousness.
It’s been the best eleven years ever.
Shout out to my other vendors:
First: To Dave for being such an AMAZING help. We couldn’t have pulled this off without you.
Styling and Design: Yours truly (yes, I just gave myself a shout out, but I’m crazy proud of this project, and someday I just might need the morale boost.)
Makeup: Brynn Andre (who is also an incredible singer/songwriter.)
Hair: Jen @ Guys and Dolls Salon
Cake: Rachel Wille @ Queen of Cakes
Flowers: The crazy talented Jen Frisbie
Vintage Rentals: Antique Door Vintage Rentals
Hair piece and boutonniere: JC McCairn
Herkimer Diamond Ring: Mineralogy Design
My dress: Free People
DRL’S Wardrobe+my other jewelry: JCrew
Elena+Stella’s wardrobe: Gap
Deer Skull: My super upset stepfather Al. (Thank you! I’m sorry. And I promise it’s in perfect condition!)
gah. so much more even better than last night’s sneak peek you gave me.
but i flat out refuse to swear on your blog like i did last night.
but (insert expletive here) yes. these are (insert expletive here) amazing.
Phenomenal! took me away to another land…so much love. Congratulations:)
This has me grinning like a crazy person from ear to ear :) I love it.
This shoot is BREATHTAKING! It’s truly hard to find the words!
Athena, you are not only insanely gorgeous but you are soooo talented!!! You and your husband’s love and commitment are a true inspiration!!!
I can’t thank you enough for including my antler pieces in your very special day! I am so honored!!!
I’m in love with it. I could watch the video and view the photos over and over again (creepy?;). AMAZING!!!! I’m so impressed by and proud of you. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
ok. so, i watched this yesterday…but i realized i never commented. it was 1. cool to hear what you sound like (hahah) 2. the beginning of the video is so beautiful. i mean, the whole video is. but i loved the introduction to it-and how clayton also posted it on his blog. 3. the images are pure magic.
congratulations! hope you guys have many more amazing years ahead. xo
I came to your site by way of a wedding you shot of an old friend and I saw your vow renewal and it just seemed so brilliant. You have my wheels going a mile a minute now because this something i would love….we did the church wedding, boring photos, nothing artistic at all. We are coming up on 8 years married, 14 years together….I will definitely keep you in mind should I get that wild hair.