Wedding & Vow Renewal Ceremony

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beach wedding vow renewal reception cake        beach wedding vow renewal katie kristen


To be honest, I never thought I’d get married.  I fantasized about it abstractly, but never met anyone where it seemed like a good idea.  I was perfectly fine/happy/content with being single.  I had great hobbies, good friends, lots of Netflix, etc. – I never felt I needed “a man” or “marriage” to make me feel complete.  Jim never thought he’d get married either.  He’d sort of resigned himself to the fact he’d probably be single forever, and was living a comfortable existence as a bachelor with his cat Darwin.

Then we were introduced by a mutual friend, and everything changed [thank you, Christyne!].  And it was the weirdest experience ever.  From our first date [over spinach quesadillas at a local Mexican restaurant] we both knew something was different.  In a really good way.  Neither of us had been married before.  Neither of us had or wanted kids of our own.  We were both in our early 40’s and had wasted years of our lives in bad relationships.  We were both ready for something good!  Within a few weeks we were head over heels, and within a few months I had moved into his condo and he’d asked me to marry him.

Jim’s mom described us as “two lost souls who finally found each other”, which is exactly how we’ve always felt.  Right from the start we knew it was something special.  So, 9 months after our first date, and without telling our families, we eloped to Ipswich Town Hall on 6/4/12:

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We walked home, ordered pizza, popped a bottle of cheap champagne, and made some phone calls.  I think our families let out a collective sigh of “Thank God”.  I don’t think they ever thought they’d get us married off – heh.  I think we can both agree it’s been the happiest, easiest 3+ years of our lives – a true fairytale romance!


My wedding band and engagement ring were my Nana’s.  When she died in 2005, my cousins & I were allowed to pick a few items from her amazing jewelry collection.  We decided to start by choosing one thing each, to see if anyone wanted the same item.  I immediately pointed to her gorgeous platinum wedding set, my cousin Jennifer pointed to Nana’s gorgeous [and huge] opal ring, my cousin Staci chose a charm bracelet made from the ash and lava of Pompeii [which is pretty damn cool!], and my cousin Lauren picked a necklace.  Score!  I love the simple, elegant, timeless style of the ring set:

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I think Jim was quite happy to avoid the stress of ring shopping!

Upon hearing the news, my coworkers [who were quite appalled I didn’t give them a heads up about the elopement!] decorated my office and threw me a small party, with a cake & 2 very generous gift cards – it was such a nice surprise!:

my office decorated for my wedding by my coworkers        my office decorated for my wedding by my coworkers

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And my brother and his family sent us the most gorgeous, ethereal flower arrangement:

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Eloping has always been my idea of a dream wedding.  No stress, no anxiety, no dropping thousands of dollars on dresses, DJ’s, invitations, booze.  I was hoping that if the day ever came I did get married, my husband-to-be would agree to either a Town Hall wedding or a drive-through chapel in Vegas.  I think Jim was as relieved as I was to avoid a formal church wedding!


After we eloped, I discussed with my family maybe throwing a bit of a party.  Time passed [about a year] and we were still throwing around ideas.  We had pretty much decided we’d do it in FL, since we both have family who live in the Fort Myers area.  Jim’s Dad and stepmom, Jim’s cousin and his family, and my uncle Sammy & aunt Susie live right in Fort Myers; my parents and my aunt Susan & uncle Les live right across the bridge on Sanibel Island.

Then we found out that my brother [who lives in Arlington, VA] was planning to drive to Sanibel with his wife and 4 kids to spend Christmas, 2013 with my parents.  A few weeks later we found out that Jim’s brother [who lives in CA] was planning to fly to Fort Myers with his wife and 3 kids to spend Christmas, 2013 with Jim’s Dad & family!  To have them both coming together at the same place & time was too incredible to pass up – so we quickly jumped into action.  And by “we” I mean my mom & my aunt Susan 🙂  And somehow a party morphed into a full vow renewal ceremony on the beach!

Mom and Susan did an incredible job with the planning.  Susan & Les are friends with the owner of Tween Waters Inn & Resort on Captiva [Captiva is an island off the tip of Sanibel], which made it easy to pick an exact location.  My mom & Susan worked with the Tween Waters wedding planner to set up a very simple but beautiful ceremony on the beach followed by a catered lunch across the street at the Tween Waters Canoe and Kayak Club.  The best part of all was having my Uncle Les perform the ceremony!  He’s a Justice of the Peace in Florida, and although he’d never done a marriage ceremony before, he agreed to do ours.  We were already legally married, which made it a little less stressful [I hope!].  Here are some highlights from our perfect day, December 27, 2013:

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Not sure what my brother is doing here, but looks like he might be re-enacting a headache:

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As the ceremony started, Jim & I walked down the sand to the tropical sounds of a steel drum, and Les performed the renewal ceremony:

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Following the ceremony, it was picture time on the beach!  Here’s a shot of me & Jim, and a shot of us with Jim’s family:

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And here’s 2 shots of us with my family – notice Jim making a fish face in the 1st pic [typical] and giving the finger in the 2nd pic.  The finger was in honor of his mom, who passed away shortly after we eloped.  She was famous for subtly flipping the bird in happy family photos.  Jackie, you will always be missed!:

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Jim’s best friend Jen lives in FL and was able to drive over for the ceremony, which was awesome:

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After picture time was over, we walked across the street to the reception lunch at the Canoe and Kayak Club:

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Notice the heart-shaped bush in the first picture – it must be amazing when it’s in full bloom!  The catered lunch was on the back deck which overlooks Pine Island Sound – beautiful!  The Resort is called “Tween Waters” because it’s smack in between the Gulf and the Sound.  It probably takes 3 minutes to walk from the ocean, through the Resort, to the edge of the Sound.

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A good time was had by all!

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There were some tears over Jim’s mom – her loss was definitely felt.  We would have loved if she could have been there.  I’m just thankful we eloped before she passed – it meant so much to her to know her baby boy was finally happy!  Here’s Jim with his aunt Alice [his mom’s sister], who flew down for the ceremony:

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The Costco mousse-filled cake was amazingly awesome, and my wedding bouquet from Libby’s Flowers in Fort Myers was gorgeous and matched the lilies on my dress:

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Here’s my Mom, me, Jim, & my Dad:

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I thought I had one of my brother & I with our parents, but I can’t find it *grumble*.

Here’s a shot of my Uncle Les [who performed the ceremony], my Aunt Susan & my Mom [who planned the whole event], Jim, and me – we couldn’t have done it without you guys!!!  A HUGE THANK YOU!!!:

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My adorable niece Katie says “I’m next!” and my adorable niece Sedona says “I’m tired, is it time for lunch yet?”

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I wish I had a better shot of me with my brother’s kids:

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And any shot of me with Jim’s brother’s kids!!!

After the reception, it was finally time to relax on the gorgeous Captiva beach:

december 2013 beach wedding / vow renewal sanibel captiva FL me and jim

Some people might wonder why we did a late morning/early afternoon ceremony and reception, since sunset weddings are something Captiva is known for.  We decided since we were already married, we’d go the more casual route and do a noon time ceremony and lunch versus a sunset ceremony and dinner.

If anyone who attended has a picture of me with my brother, my mom & my Dad, please send!  Also, if anyone has a picture of me and Jim with my brother’s kids, or me and Jim with his brother’s kids, please send!

PHOTO CREDITS:  A HUGE thank you to my father-in-law [aka Dad #2] Dave Ferguson, who was our unofficial “official wedding photographer”!  Most of the photos in this post are his.  He did a wonderful job and took tons of high-quality photos.  My Dad and my aunt Susan also took some great shots, which are included throughout.  I’m visiting my brother in a few weeks and I’m hoping to find a few more keepers in his family albums.

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One Comment

  1. A beautiful bride, beautiful weather, and a perfect tropical setting.
    A ceremony on the beach on Captiva Island – it doesn’t get much better than that.
    Great job with your presentation!

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