A Surprise Vow Renewal

vow renewal

I’ve always thought a vow renewal was so incredibly romantic and this story from Athena just confirms my belief! :) A little backstory from Athena on why she planned a surprise vow renewal:

My husband and I were married eight years ago, in a nondescript location completely devoid of any personal touches or style, not to mention charm. The photos from the event are equally as lackluster and could easily be confused for prom photos, and I was sick of having those as the only visual photographic proof of my husband and I together. As a couple.

As a photographer myself, I’ve come to understand the importance of documenting life – of capturing it and preserving it as often and as beautifully as possible. I’ve been asking my husband Darrell for a vow renewal for awhile. Always the practical one, he didn’t see the need for such an event, or costly expenditure, just so we could have amazing “wedding” photos. “Vow renewals are for people who have been married 25 years,” he’d say. “Not for people like us. I love you, but you’ll have to wait.” I called shenanigans on that.

I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t want to sit around and wait for life to happen before we could celebrate it. So I planned a suprise re-wedding. Just the two of us – some woods, a few amazing + beautiful + creative details – and our two daughters. It took a few months, a lot of secrets, and if I’m being honest, some outright LYING to pull it off, but every last bit of it was worth it. To have my husband standing in front of me – on the eleventh anniversary of the day we officially became a couple – as I told him how I’d marry him all over again, every single day – was one of the most moving and magnificent and perfect moments of my life. To finally be able to tell him – in actions and in words – how much he means to me, and how much better my life is because he is in it, was truly a gift. To both of us.

Big thanks to Clayton Austin for the gorgeous photos + Derrek Sullivan with Sullivan Films for the film!

feather boutonniere

hanging dress


bride in tall grass

succulent and pink bouquet


succulent bouquet




first look


vow renewal

vow renewal

vow renewal

vow renewal

vow renewal

bride and groom

ribbon wall

bride holding antlers


bride and groom

vow renewal

vow renewal

feather centerpiece

feather centerpiece

wire wrapped silverware

On why I chose Clayton Austin: The second I saw Clayton’s work I fell in love – but not just because of his beautifully imagery. I fell in love because his work made me feel something. I knew that the soul of the man creating these images was remarkable. That the artist behind the art was more than just a man with a camera and a dream. Clayton has a remarkable ability to allow love to flow openly and freely around him. As a photographer myself, I understand the importance of making your clients feel at ease, but Clayton goes beyond simply making people comfortable. Shooting with him was relaxed and real. Natural. Warm. At times I forgot he was even there and simply closed my eyes and reveled in the moments I was sharing with my husband. With our friends and family. When it came time to choose a photographer, Clayton was at the top of my list, and I’m forever grateful that he was with us to document such a special day the way only a hopeless romantic (and extraordinary artist) could.

vow renewal

vow renewal

skull cake topper

clayton austin

couple in tall grass

I’m so glad I didn’t overlook cinematography. I met Derrek Sullivan with Sullivan Films at a photography workshop and we became instant friends. When I found out he was a videographer, or as he quickly and kindly informed me, a cinematographer, I assumed he shot video of a wedding day and put it on a disc. Boring. Traditional. Standard.  That was all I knew about what wedding video was at the time. But then I saw his work. He makes magic with film. Moving images that capture exact emotion and elicit and visceral response in those who watch his footage.

As a parent, I wanted to be sure my daughters were included in the vow renewal, and as a photographer I knew that still photos wouldn’t capture them wholly. That frozen images wouldn’t be able to completely encompass their vibrant personalities. Their smiles. The light in their eyes as they chase laughter and run with wild abandon. I knew I wanted to capture them, and this day on video, and I thought instantly of Derrek. There was never another choice.

photography: Clayton Austin // styling: Athena Pelton (bride) // floral: Jen Frisbie-Link, Inspire Inc. // cake: Rachel Wille of Queen of Cakes // carved antler pieces (hair comb and boutonierre):  JC McCairn // herkimer diamond ring: Theresa Cowan of Mineralogy Design // vintage rentals: Antique Door Vintage Rentals // groom’s attire: J.Crew // bride’s dress: Free People // bride’s shoes: Steve Madden // hair: Jennifer: Guys and Dolls Salon // makeup: Brynn Andre

This wedding features rad artists fromThe GWS Wedding Artist GalleryClayton Austin is a Featured Artist in the GWS Artist Guide! Find more rad artists for your day in our Gallery

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  1. Vow renewals can be so romantic. Love that they choose to get married for a second time =)

  2. Ohhhh this is so beautiful!! Love the details and the whole feeling.

  3. Wow, absolutely beautiful and the video footage of the girls are just precious.

  4. The styling for this is CRAZY good! Love it.

  5. The cinematography! Early morning tears my way! This wedding is genuinely beautiful, just as this family is!

  6. A beautiful color story.

  7. Everything and I mean everything about this is beautiful!
    (I especially love her outfit!)

  8. This was so sweet. The photography and cinematography were top notch. Anyone know who sings the song in the video? I love it!

  9. such a beautiful story. stunningly captured too.

  10. EVERYTHING about this story, these pictures, and this video is absolutely glorious!! Just beautiful!

  11. EEEEEEEEEEEEK! I am so excited to see this feature and so so sooo crazy thankful to you, Jen, for publishing it, and to all the amazing people who helped make this happen. XOXO

  12. The pictures, the scenery, the couple.. sooo romantic! Can’t get enough of lovely weddings. More, more!


  1. […] Un rinnovo delle promesse a sorpresa; […]

  2. […] A Surprise Vow Renewal | Green Wedding Shoes Wedding Blog … Vow renewal in the woods. To finally be able to tell him – in actions and in words – how much he means to me, and how much better my life is because he is in it, was truly a gift. To both of us. Big thanks to Clayton Austin for . […]


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