By Caroline Shively Sucher
Photos by Jillian McQuerrey - bombsoverbettyphoto.com
When Skye Williams married Corey Banaszak at the courthouse in a two-minute ceremony in 2010, she promised herself they would do it up right with a vow renewal on their first anniversary.
A year later, life got in the way in the form of a very large baby bump, so they rescheduled it for their five-year anniversary.
But by 2015, another baby was about to arrive.
Skye just laughed and pushed it off again until their ten-year anniversary. In the Spring of 2020, everything was in place – venue, dress, 100+ guest list.
Then she got the phone call from her doctor. No laughing this time.
It was cancer. Then chemotherapy.
Skye remembers those dark days. “Most of my breast cancer treatment was in the hospital. I had to stay overnight because your body is shutting down because of the chemo. Treatment makes you feel groggy and takes a lot out of you and I didn’t want to have my ceremony and feel crappy.”
So, her dreams got put off. Again.
By then, the Covid pandemic was growing, and they couldn’t just put it off by a few months, they had to push it out a full year.
Finally, they set a new date – May 21, 2021.
Skye planned everything herself, from the table decorations to the flowers. She learned so much from the experience, she now wants to be a wedding and vow renewal planner. The two ceremonies are very similar, but they have some subtle differences.
“It’s usually at least 30 minutes for a wedding ceremony. We were done in 10 to 15 minutes and there was no ring exchange. We thought, ‘Hey we’re here to celebrate our love and what we’ve overcome and that we’re still hanging in strong.’ You don’t have to have an officiant. You can create it to be whatever you want. You can do it big, or you can do it small.”
Terry Kaye, owner, and lead planner of Terry Kaye Events, says all couples can apply that lesson. “Try to make the event a reflection of both you and your partner. Enjoy creating new memories and new traditions,” she advises. “Vow renewals are a beautiful way to recommit to your partner. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate your love and to showcase your love story.”
That was exactly what Skye had planned, while still making room for surprises. The morning of the big day, she woke up to her seven-year-old daughter Aurora yelling, “I have a loose tooth!”
Eleven years ago, Skye might have worried about a tooth gap in the official photos, but not in 2021. Not after everything they’d gone through to get to this moment. They yanked the tooth out together.
Aurora was delighted. “This is going to be an awesome day!” she said. “I’m going to get money from the tooth fairy and cake!”
She and her sisters, Luna, 10, and Nova, 5, were all flower girls.
“They were wonderful. They were really good. My youngest was very upset at the altar because to get her up there, I told her there was candy and gum at the end of the aisle.”
After everyone walked up the aisle, the couple recited the vows they had written themselves at Herrington on the Bay in North Beach, MD. At the last minute, Skye decided to wing her vows while Corey went all in.
“My husband is very poetic,” Skye explains. “He had everyone crying during our vows. Usually, he hardly shows any emotions, then he let this out. I thought, ‘We’re already married, dude. We’re 12 years in and you have all this emotion pent up inside?’ Every one of his words was so deep. People gave it a ten out of ten.”
They had a friend as an officiant at the outdoor affair and then had one heck of a party with family and friends. Skye had done all the planning and the decorating herself based off of Pinterest and YouTube videos, while Corey had built a photo booth the night before.
Skye had always planned to have her first dance with her mother, but she had passed away in 2020, so Skye danced with her grandmother while images of her mom played on a screen behind them. As the music played, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
“I was kind of whimpering myself,” Skye admits.
From there, the couple had everything they’d missed with that courthouse wedding, a bouquet toss, food, and dancing, surrounded by a hundred friends.
Eleven years, three kids, and a full life later, Skye says this vow renewal meant so much more to her than a wedding would have.
“You go through so much. you’re recommitting yourself to your partner. Nothing else matters.”