I do... take two! Renewing our vows

REALLY, the title should read, 'I do... take three!' because technically, Robert and I, were married three times. The first time was the legal ceremony in Merton register office on July 7 in 1994. The second occasion was the memorable wedding in Martina Franca in Italy, on September 14, 1994. The third, was on Sunday June 9, 2019, when we decided to renew our wedding vows to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Renewing the valve 

We decided to renew our wedding vows in Merton register office, Morden Park House. The same venue where 25 years earlier we legally became Mr & Mrs.

Sunday, June 9, 2019, the vows renewal

On this occasion, all our five children were present and played a very important role in the making of the day. From doing the reading to making the cakes, taking the informal pictures, welcoming the guests, managing the music, helping with organising the event, to designing the invite. We worked as a team to make sure that the day was going to be beautiful get-together with loved ones. The budget wasn’t huge but everybody's effort made the occasion even more memorable. 

Having Mariann and Federica, the 'cocktail queens', definitely was one of the highlights of the party!

Tracey & Andy, Lex’s parents, our photographer were amongst the guests. I met them a few years ago at a Christmas party and I noticed how strong the family bond was between them. They now run a wedding business together and it makes me happy to see how a family can live and work together. My ultimate dream is to run a business with my family.

The ceremony

When we received this message we knew that we had to start planning….

Dear Paola and Robert

Booking Reference: 5603
I write to confirm your renewal of vows booking for the Morden Park House - Sheridan Room at Morden Park House on Sunday 09 June 2019 at 13:00.   

Yours sincerely,
Merton Register Office

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to our incredible celebrant, Lesley Anthony.

The Sherington room is a bright room but only accommodates 30 people, so we had to limit the number of guests we could invite. We had our immediate family, the original witnesses from 25 years ago, the lovely couple Clara and Ernesto. Also present was Olimpia, who travelled from Italy to attend the day. We hadn’t seen for nearly 20 years. Another close friend, Anneke who we hadn’t seen for more than 10 years, flew in from Holland. I was very happy because my brother-in-law Ric and his girlfriend Michelle came all the way from Australia to be with us.

This event not only gave us the chance to reflect on us as a couple but also our promises, and us as a family. Ultimately it was a chance to celebrate togetherness and friendship. Looking at the beautiful pictures that the lovely and talented Lex has taken, makes us smile and infinitely happy.

There are beautiful moments in life, like this one that deserves to be shared and celebrated.

I would like to share with you the email sent to Lex, my lovely photographer.

Hi Lex,

About Sunday ...

  • 12.30pm: Arriving at the register office, Robert and I will be walking in together.

  • 1pm: The ceremony will be held in the Sheridan Room. Asia, my daughter, will do a reading and Kai my son will be in charge of the music.

  • Our witnesses are the same as the first time we got married 25 years ago, Clara and Ernesto.

  • We will be exchanging rings, that have been specifically made by the lovely AMANDA LI HOPE. The box containing the rings is recycled from African wood. At the ceremony we only have the immediate family, Robert's family. His brother Ric and girlfriend Michelle from Australia, unfortunately, nobody from my family. But I have a dear friend Olympia from Italy which I haven’t seen for 20 years and Anneke from Amsterdam who I haven’t seen for 12 years coming from Mexico via Holland.

  • Regarding the pictures, I would definitely like a picture of everybody together, some pictures with just my family with the children, some pictures with the friends, inside on the staircase, outside in front of the house and on the corner of the house.

  • The Mexican garden party will start at our home at 3pm. The reason for the Mexican theme is because we spent our honeymoon in Mexico.

  • We have a cake to cut made by Asia, I’m not too sure what time we'll do the cake.

  • You will see my house is not really big and we have quite a few people coming, so it’s going to be a bit tight. I generally like details and pictures of funny things happening, people's expressions, ...

  • To our guests coming to the party, we've asked 'no gifts' but instead to bring a dish or a bottle to share. The number of guests we expect should be around 60

  • Our house you will see is generally made of bits and pieces that we found, recycled, repainted, re-made, The only pets we have are three goldfish in the front garden.

  • To avoid any problems, the food we've cooked is vegetarian but of course our guests are welcome to bring any meat or fish dishes.

  • The aim of the day is to celebrate life, really. And of course, celebrating the fact that despite problems and ups and downs we're still together

  • I must say I feel quite nervous about it, now I understand how brides and grooms feel before the big day!

  • Amongst our guests we have the lovely Mariann and Federica, Federica Bruno used to be a wonderful bespoke wedding dress designer. Mariann will be in charge of cocktails!

  • I’m generally a very emotional person, so don’t be surprised if I cry a little or a lot

  • This is the poem we have chosen that Asia will be reading...

    I choose you
    again and again
    at the start and finish
    of every single day
    no matter the season
    no matter the year
    I choose you
    to struggle and succeed with
    to fight and make up with
    to love and grow old with
    I choose you
    knowing there are still trials
    we must travel
    knowing there are mountains
    left to climb
    I choose you
    To always be by my side
    – Tyler Kent White

The picture on the invite is the first picture that Robert and I had together. It was taken by his brother Ric in his parent's garden in Kent! So loooong ago.

Sorry for the long email.

Paola xxxx

I asked Lex to share her thoughts on this experience….

When Paola asked me if I was available to photograph her vowel renewal I was absolutely bowled over. It's always a lovely feeling to get booked to photograph a wedding but when its a fellow wedding photographer, the excitement went through the roof! Having known Paola & Robert for a couple of years, I've always noticed their relationship was different. A true connection. A very special bond that had only strengthened in the years of their marriage. Watching them at industry social events made the possibility of having a good marriage whilst working in the industry was possible. Hard work, yes, but possible.

Seeing Paola & Robert surrounded by their children and family renewing their vowels was everything I imagined and more. Before the day, Paola was clear that the day was about celebrating life and happiness, and so when she asked if my parents, Tracey & Andy, wanted to come to celebrate, it made me incredibly happy. My parents work in the industry too and have overcome a lot of health challenges whilst maintaining a very successful wedding business together. Knowing they were invited confirmed one thing: Paola notices. That's what makes her an incredible wife, a loving mother and a fantastic wedding photographer.

The whole experience has made me view my own family and our milestones very differently. Seeing Paola & Robert's home covered in photographs from their years together confirmed I was in the right job. It is such an honour to photograph big events in peoples lives and know that those photographs will live on for many years and even be handed down to generations.

Paola & Robert have now inspired my own parents to renew their vows!

Lex Fleming xxx

The rings

We felt that an occasion like this needed to be marked with something totally bespoke and unique, this is why we asked Amanda to create our new rings.

Wearing the ring makes me feel very special as I never had something completely bespoke made before. We decided to have the rings engraved with the number 25 in Roman numbers.

Bespoke rings

This is what Amanda said...
Being asked to create a bespoke piece of jewellery is an honour and privilege, and I never take it for granted. Fine jewellery is often given to commemorate a significant occasion, event, or milestone; and, I am always conscious that what I am making with my own hands represents something much more than precious metal and gemstones it possesses.

I was hugely flattered when Paola asked me to create a new pair of wedding rings to be exchanged at her wedding vow renewal ceremony. She presented me with an idea to create a spinning ring that fits within a concave recess of another ring. I had never made a design like that before, but I am always happy to take on a challenge(!). I’m very grateful to Paola for trusting me to make this very special design for her and for such an important occasion! Wishing her and Robert many more happy years ahead together.

Amanda Li Hope

To renew the vows can mean many things. It can be that calm moment, that allowed us to say 'thank you' for what we have, and to look at how far we have come, appreciate life and the family. 

And no, there are no secrets, being together as a couple can be complicated, hard, challenging, they can be happy moments and tears too.

Robert and I as a couple are very connected, we share common values, we can count on each other and we are best friends, I feel stronger than ever about this relationship, but having teenager children can really test your patience and your relationship.

The party

The theme chosen for the garden party was Mexican because we had our honeymoon in this beautiful country. We had around 60 guests and requested no ‘gifts' but instead to bring something to share. 

The day was filled with colour, happy energy, many friends, delicious food, wonderful cocktails and a touch of rain, which didn’t spoil the party at all.

I would like to say a BIG thank you to my family, to my friends and to Robert, life would not be so much fun without you – thank you for being my best friend and my other side of the coin! 

I’m looking forward to discovering the rest of the world with you. I love you more than words can say, but maybe you already know this!

Paola xxx