Mom & Dad's Renewal Ceremony!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My family is still here for a few more days and we've already done quite a bit together here in Ireland but before I talk about any of that I wanted to dedicate a post to my parents' 25th wedding anniversary.  My father and I have been planning for months to surprise my mother with a renewal ceremony while they were over here.  Most people who hear this respond with something along the lines of "well that is very presumptuous of you!" but to be honest there was never a doubt in either of our minds that she wouldn't want to do it.

We had to plan an entire day around this event and we decided that we did not want her to know until the very last second.  We started the day with a drive through the Wicklow Mountains.  Although the weather was highly temperamental (alternating between rain, sunshine, and hail) it was a beautiful drive.  We went through Sally Gap which gave us an amazing view of the valley below and some up-close encounters with sheep.

Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains 
From there we continued on to Glendalough.  The main attraction in Glendalough is an old monastic settlement from the 6th century that was founded by Saint Kevin.  There is an old roundtower, a cathedral, seven churches, and a still functioning cemetery.  There are also woodland trails that go on for miles but we did not have enough time to explore those.  Even with the continuously temperamental weather, Glendalough has been one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland.

Church Ruins
Old Celtic Cross
Glendalough Roundtower
Sisters <3
Mom & Dad
We had dinner reservations at The Wicklow Heather just down the street from the monastic village and we told my mom that it was a nicer place so that we all needed to get dressed up.  (I'm sure the classy points we earned getting dressed up were negated by the fact that we got changed in the museum bathroom but really who's counting?) The restaurant was beautiful and dinner went wonderfully and we even got a rainbow just outside our window.

Rainbow during dinner

Fam at The Wicklow Heather

 Against all MacDonald norms our timing was going perfectly so as we were leaving the restaurant my father "took a wrong turn" which my mom quickly noted.  There were two spots we could have turned around at but one had oncoming traffic and the other was on a "dangerous bend" so we found ourselves turning up a long driveway of an old church.  My Mom, who is incapable of not exploring old churches when the opportunity arises, suggested that we hop out of the car and look around.  In any other scenario pretty much everyone in the car would have objected, but luckily there was a herd of sheep just next door to the church baaing away happily so we all had some reason to get out of the car. Of course mom skipped the sheep and went straight into the church.  Luckily we were still 15 minutes early so we just wandered around looking at things when I discovered that there "just happened" to be a mass in a few minutes.  My mom should have been suspicious when no one in the family outright objected to sticking around, but stick around we did.
Saint Kevin's Church
She should have also been suspicious when a woman came up and introduced herself to me with a conspiratorial grin... and even more so when the priest came up to us and I introduced him to my whole family and said that it was their 25th wedding anniversary but even then she just thought I was being friendly.  It wasn't until the priest opened up his little calendar book and said "Ahh yes, John and Diane MacDonald 25th Anniversary Vow Renewal Ceremony."  My mom just smiled and nodded for a bit and, with the whole family looking on, we saw it slowly dawn on her.  When the smile got bigger and her eyes filled up with tears we realized we were safe and that she wasn't going to object and run out of the church.  (By the way, the parish wasn't aware that were were completely surprising my mom so they can't be held accountable for holding ceremonies for blindsided people!)

The priest and the parish were wonderful.  He brought my parents, my sisters, and myself up to the alter where my parents renewed their vows. It was a beautiful little ceremony and, although there were only about 10 other people at the mass, they all clapped for us and, one by one, came up to us at the end of the mass to congratulate them and thank us for holding such a beautiful ceremony in their church.

Fam after the Ceremony

Mom & Dad leaving the church
I'm still a little shocked about how smoothly everything went.  It was something that I had been working on for months and I'm so glad everything worked out.  Thank you to everyone who knew about it and managed to keep it a secret from my mom!


  1. That's amazing Erin. So glad everything went well for you and for your mom and dad. Congratulations to them for 25 years of marriage!

    Love, Sheri

  2. Ahh Erin, I cannot find the appropriate words for this post... Beautiful perhaps? I love you guys, what a special and memorable thing to do!!

  3. That is awesome I can picture your moms happy it went so well

    Love you all,

  4. Erin..What a wonderful thing you and your dad did for your Mom..I knew she couldn't pass up seeing that church..Something none of you will ever forget!!!

  5. Auntie Sue is sitting at the computer in tears wishing I was there. Way to go Erin and Jack. Congrats Diane and Jack

  6. Erin you absolute little belter. Top marks, pulled it right out of the bag. Genius!!! That was such a cool trick, and I love the way you used the word conspiratorial. I appreciate that a lot, but not as much as your mumsy must have felt after that amazeballs Mass!!! Best thing a daughter has ever done for her mummy. DEFO!

    Love y'all