Television made me a vow renewal skeptic.
In the life cycle of a Real Housewife marriage, an elaborate vow renewal ceremony is sometimes just a pit-stop on the road to Divorce City, a desperate final attempt to put a Band-Aid on the inevitable.
On the season finale of Odd Mom Out, Joy Green says “Oh please, everyone knows what ‘vows renewal’ means,” to which Jill Weber replies “No s**t, someone boned.” For almost every couple on television, their second trip down the aisle is more of a full-fledged tumble.
Newly married and still in the honeymoon phase of my relationship, the idea of a vow renewal ceremony interests me for many reasons. With Hollywood and television leading the trend, I couldn’t help but dismiss the entire idea as a superficial ritual put on for the benefit of others, masking the true turmoil within the relationship.
I was determined to speak to a real, non-celebrity couple who renewed their vows, in order to renew my faith in the practice.
In my quest to find a happy ending of the marriage kind, I was struck by how hard it was to find non-celebs who elected to renew their vows or knew someone who had done so. Honestly, it was easier finding people who had subjected themselves to a coffee enema than a happy couple who said “I do” again—to the same person. Most of my friends who recited vows more than once were on their second marriage, so I turned to more sentimental generation to seek a story of love so nice they did it twice.
Being married, and staying married, is an accomplishment to be celebrated, and it melted my cold, cynical heart to hear the story of Donna, 70, and Donnie, 72, from Brooklyn, (yes, even their names are cute) who have been married for 52 years.
Don, who as a young man was was in a Doo Wop group with a big hit, called "Coney Island Baby," learned that a cruise ship they were going to travel on for their 35th wedding anniversary was the first Princess cruise to perform weddings.
They decided to renew their vows aboard the ship in front of their friends and family. The captain officiated, and without planning it, and completely unbeknownst to each other, Donna's anointed bridesmaids for the renewal both showed up in the same dress.
Don asked Donna to marry him all over again, and they renewed the vows they first took when they were only 18 and 20 years old, and have lived by ever since. After the ceremony, Don made sure that his special song played for Donna, and they danced as they always have. Their only motivation was to celebrate each other, and share their joy and love with dear friends and some new ones they did not know when they married all those years ago.
A story of a successful vow renewal is rare, but not as rare as a couple keeping their vows, and each other, for over half a century.
Such a long- lasting union is almost shocking these days, a surprise ending worthy of television.
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