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When Tracy and Gary think back to their wedding on March 27, 1999, they have fond memories. But one thing was most definitely lacking – professional photos.
At the time, Gary was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and the couple planned a romantic sunset wedding on the beach. When the officiant got lost, they ended up with a moonlit wedding instead. Tracy’s friend shot just two rolls of film (yes, this was back in the day of actual film). “We had very few pictures,” Tracy says. As a photographer herself, Tracy felt a little cheated in that area.
When the couple came up on their 20th anniversary, they decided to celebrate with a wedding vow renewal ceremony with Cactus Collective Weddings, where they would not only celebrate their marriage but have beautiful photos to boot. They are so happy they did. “We wanted to celebrate us and our journey,” Tracy says. “I wanted those memories documented, and they are stunning.”
What exactly is a vow renewal ceremony?
Vow renewals are simply a way to reaffirm your love and commitment to your spouse. It’s saying, “I do” all over again, but without the stress of planning a wedding.
The difference between an actual wedding and a vow renewal is mostly that a vow renewal has no legal component. It’s simply a gesture between you and your spouse. This means you can truly make your renewal anything you want.
A vow renewal can be a fun party, with a close friend officiating and a large group celebrating with you. It can be a family affair with your children at your side. It might be an adventure, celebrating not only your marriage but a hobby or activity you both enjoy. It can be small and romantic, with only you, your spouse, and the officiant. That’s the route Tracy and Gary took, and they couldn’t be happier with it.
“This sounds a little crazy, but what made it most special was not having any wedding guests. It was small and intimate. It was so special just the two of us,” Tracy says.
Couples opt for a renewal for a lot of reasons. Often, it’s a big anniversary they want to celebrate. What better gift to your partner than to recommit to your marriage. But some couples use a renewal to move past a rough patch in a marriage, making a fresh start to their journey. And some are just so in love they want to say “I do” all over again.
For Tracy and Gary, their renewal was an experience they wouldn’t trade. It was romantic and sweet with gorgeous photos they can enjoy for years to come. Do they have advice for others considering a renewal?
“Just do it,” Tracy says. “It was a perfect memory.”
McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to elopement and micro wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. With over 15 years of wedding photography experience, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s become a WIPA board member, and has helped well over 1000 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.