Category Archives: vow renewal

My (Expat) Love Story in Wales

Earlier this week I posted My Family Portraits in Wales that were taken this summer for our 10th Anniversary Vow Renewal, by my friend Miriam. You can see the ones I took of her family at Travel: Cymer Abbey Family Portraits.  I decided to save the sweet romantic ones she took of just Ryan and I for today.  Think of these as a sweet teaser for the official wedding photographs from our vow renewal. It has not been since Hawaii that we have had our photographs taken by anyone else and I really appreciated all the hard work my friend Miriam did for us.  Here is our expat love story in Wales:

* Photography © Miriam Pinkston Visual Artist, 2009-2013 All Rights reserved.

My Vow Renewal Dress

Today is a three day weekend in England as it is a Bank Holiday Monday.  A perk of living the expat life in the UK.  While my husband and I take it easy today (really worked our muscles yesterday on a 5 hour kayaking trip on the canals and rivers in Bath, England) I wanted to surprise you all with a sneak from our Vow Renewal in Wales.  I did end up wearing my original wedding gown for my 10th Wedding Anniversary.  I took out the zipper in the back, sewed in loops, and laced the dress up with ribbon.
 My head piece is something I bought while living in Hawaii for one of my fashion concept photo shoots.  I snagged a whole bunch of props before we left for Wales not sure what we would use or not. I put this on just to play around with the look and everyone really loved it, so it stayed on.  It was nice having a bit of home in Hawaii with us on our Vow Renwal day.  I am pictured here at Portmeirion, Wales by my photographer husband who took a few shots while we were waiting for our party.  It was so rewarding being able to wear the same dress again, ten years later, to say new vows to my husband.  Even more special to do so with our intimate group of family and friends. 

Photographed by Ryan Aherin and Edited by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |
Q: Would you wear your gown again?

* Photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |

My Favourite Things to do in Wales

I have been having so much fun recapping our time in Wales and going through all the photographs that were taken from our trip.  It has made me realize all the things, big and small, that I have loved about being in Wales.

People have asked me why we decided on renewing our vows in Wales and if the place held any personal significance for us.  To be honest upon planning our trip, my husband and kids had never been to Wales before.  We had a list of dream locations to renew our vows that included: Italy where I had grown up as girl; on a mountain top in Austria, a place that held a  lot memories with my dad; and in France, where we had friends that lived.  When it came down to finally choosing a place we knew we needed to stay within the UK, but wanted to choose a place we had never been to before.  Ryan had heard about renting cabins in Wales and we had started looking at places last Christmas with my mum.  It looked doable for us as well as providing a fantastic new location to explore.  That is how it all began.

We did not have a schedule written in stone before drove up to Wales. Partly because one of our friends coming was 8 months pregnant and Ryan and I like to be more spontaneous.  We had a list of ideas and went ahead knowing we would just have to return to do the things we did not get ticked off our list.  While I can foresee going to Wales many more times during our time in England, there were so many that became my favourite things to do in Wales.

My Favourite Things 
T O   D O   I N   W A L E S 

Drive Around the Countryside.  When choosing which way to get to Dolgellau from Bath, England we knew it had to be the scenic route with rolling green hills of sheep, quaint little villages to drive through, and passing by a castle or two would not hurt either.  Aside from a few cases of getting car sick, driving through Wales was definitely one of the highlights.

Seeing the Castles.  I love seeing castles in the UK and they are a favourite destination for my family.  We had attempted to renew our vows at a castle nearby. We parked and got ready to go in when we realised the walk from the car to the entrance was not going to be feasible in my gown and for my friend who was expecting.  So while we did not go to a castle this trip, seeing them at least was still a perk!

Being Outside in all Types of Weather.  When we told friends and acquaintances in England that we chose Wales for our 10th Wedding Anniversary we were imminently met with a response about the weather.  Wales is known for having a lot of rain. While we had a heat wave this summer, it ended the week we went to Wales. Go Figure. However it did not stop us from being outside.  We had lovely sunny days, perfectly overcast days for photos, and even enjoyed walks and a train ride in the rain showers.

Reading the Road Signs. Or should I say trying to pronounce the road signs. Or anything that had the Welsh language on it.  Almost every signage found would have the words written in both English and Welsh.  Since we do not speak Welsh, trying to figure out how to say things was really fun.  The town we stayed in, Dolgellau, has a double L sound which is pronounced by putting your tongue as if you are going to say L and then blowing.  Dolgellau being pronounced like dol-gell-eye.  Course I also heard it pronounced like dol-gethl-eye by locals, so I just tried my best to smile in my attempts.

Seeing the Sheep.  To be fair I love doing this in England too. Although what I have noticed about the sheep in England is that they tend to stay together in groups. In Wales they are just all over the place and usually in groups no larger than three or four.  It was a common sight to see a mountain side literally dotted across it in white dots that were sheep grazing.  Some seemed pretty brave on a steep mountain side, along side the road, or on top of mountain peaks.

Going to the Beach.  After our trip we have decided we could easily come up every year just to spend time at the beach. We got to go twice during our week in Wales and it was perfection for my ocean loving family.   We have almost always lived along the coast wherever in the world we lived and always feel so content with being close to the sea. The sand is lovely, the views are picturesque, and my sons never seem to mind that the water is quite the chill factor.

Riding on the Train. On a rainy day we decided it would be a good idea to take a train ride.  I had not realised there would be so many to choose from when we were looking over all the pamphlets we had taken from the local grocery store.  While the one we went on did not have all that in the way of amazing views, it was more of the experience that caught my fancy.  I loved passing the other steam engines, hearing the whistle blow, and reading the signs along the way.  We even enjoyed tea and snacks which was great, until I spilled tea all down my new white dress.  So maybe next time I will aim to dress practically and not in white every day because its my 10th Wedding Anniversary.

The Hiking. I  asked my husband what his favourite thing to do was and he answered with this one, to which I have to agree.  We got to go on a country walk hiking through the forest area near our B&B and went on an all day hike in the mountains of Cadair Idris.  It is something we love to do weekly in England and became something special for us in Wales.  I grew up going on country walks in England and hiking with my dad in Germany, both while we lived there and when we lived in Italy.  He continued to go on regular hikes where he lived in Tucson, Arizona before he died.  So while we were on the mountain hiking with our sons, it was like having my father there with us.  Ryan even mentioned how much my dad would have loved doing this with us. Thats all I could have asked for…a connection with my dad during a special time in our life.

Trying the local Ales. My husband and I love to try the local drinks when we travel or are out and about in England. So in Wales we continued this tradition with ordering the local ales and ciders.  I really enjoyed the Purple Moose Ale and will have to have it again when we are back in Wales. We ended up going out for drinks with my sister for my husband’s ‘stag night’ and enjoyed meeting new people (and their dogs) at the local pub.

Make Friends with the Wild Life. I love animals. They all seemed so friendly in Wales. I made friends with horses, sheep, geese, and even a lone jelly fish while at the beach. Luckily for me the later quickly disappeared and did not want to be super close friends.

Take My Kids to an Attraction. For this trip we opted for a fun day out for both our families at the King Arthur’s Labyrinth, based on the lore of King Arthur and Welsh history. They had a cave we got to explore, a play area, a cafe, and nine separate craft studios.  It was just enough to entertain the adults while keeping the five children all happy for a few hours. If you are interested in going it is located in the town of Corris.

Exploring the Towns and Villages.  If you are a photographer like me than you love to notice the details and photograph your surroundings.  Being able to walk around and explore the towns by foot is just a perfect way to spend some time.  From the public houses to the beautiful and manicured gardens there is a story for you with each footstep you take. We also took to the coastal village destination of Portmeirion for our actual vow renewal ceremony, which gave us a Mediterranean storybook feel in Wales.

Exploring Ruins. Just near the town of Dolgellau, in the village of Llanelltyd, are the ruins of a Cistercian abbey that was founded in 1158.  The Cymer Abbey is just beautiful and it became a perfect backdrop for family photographs for us while we were in Wales.

Enjoy Every Moment. I am a free spirit and I really just enjoy living in the moment and experiencing it with my family and friends.  I knew that no matter what we did in Wales, keeping true to that would make it an amazing week.  It truly was and a place to where we will have to return.

An outtake of my family from our 10th Wedding Anniversary at our B&B.

*Photo composite made by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |

Two Weeks Letter

My fridays are usually reserved for my Best Week Ever posts and upon reflection today I realised it really has been the best two weeks.  So much has happened and so many great memories shared with both family and friends in several cities.  So today I share another sneek peek photograph of Ryan and I on our 10th Wedding Anniversary in Wales and a special letter to recap the best two weeks.
Photography © Miriam Pinkston Visual Artist, All Rights reserved

A Letter to my Last Two Weeks

Dear Weather,
Thank you for being amazing without being over the top.  Up until our vacation in Wales we were experiencing a heat wave in England.  We leave for Wales and welcomed with rain showers.  It did not ruin our plans and I had one of my favourite memories from my trip.  A hike in Dollegau with just my husband ended in a rain shower and a fun run back to our B&B. It rained the morning of our anniversary, just like the morning of our wedding, which I had been told ten years ago was good luck. Which we indeed did have with perfect weather onwards.

Dear Family,
Thank you to my mum and sister for coming out to the UK for our 10th Anniversary and to be a part of our Vow Renewal. Ryan, the boys, and I enjoyed creating more wonderful memories together.  We are already looking forward to our trip to France next year.

Dear Friends,
I am beyond words when it comes to thanking my dear friends from Uni, Grant and Miriam, for coming out to celebrate with us.  Thank you for traveling all the way from Germany with your kids.  I loved watching all of our kids play so well together and how it felt like no time had passed.  Thank you for traveling so close to your due date and I anxiously look forward to hearing the baby news!  Thank you to my other friend from Uni, Lauren, who opened her place in Notting Hill for us to stay for two nights.  We greatly appreciate it and had such a wonderful time in London for two days.  Thank you to my friend, Leigh, whom I met while we both lived in Hawaii and who modeled for me several times.  Thank you for meeting up with us in Oxford and for showing us around the city.  It has been so great to meet up a couple times now in the UK, and I look forward to meeting up again in Oxford soon!  Thank you to my long time family friends in Oxford for letting us share a day with you and for letting us catch up over the years since when I was a little girl. Again, because I cannot say it again, thank you to all my blogger friends who took care of my blog while I was away.

Dear Sons,
Thank you for being the cutest and sweetest boys I know.  Watching how much fun you had over the last two weeks made my world.  Seeing you laugh, smile, and make new friends was so wonderful.  You really touched my heart during our vow renewal with your sweet words and sweet song.  Thank you for making my life complete.

Dear Ryan,
The best two weeks have been because of you.  The first week as part of our first ten years of marriage and the second week as the first week of our next ten.  I love you so much and so proud to have stood up in front of our family and friends to pledge our love together.  Thank you loving me as I enjoy every day I get to love you and look forward to many more anniversaries together.


*Wedding Photography by Miriam Pinkston Photography. Follow Miriam Pinkston Visual Artist on Facebook

Love Week Recap

Photography © Miriam Pinkston Visual Artist, All Rights reserved.

The photo above is my first sneak peek photograph from my shoot with my photographer friend, Miriam Pinkston.  I met Miriam and her husband before they even started dating back during our days at University.  Today they have three boys and are expecting their fourth child very soon and we now have two boys on our own. So between us we had five boys under the ages of eight playing around together while we were in Wales.  It was just so much fun to see them interact and it was like no time had passed when it came to us adults back together again after a decade.  Miriam  was so wonderful and took the photographs for us and I was just too excited today to not share one.  I really loved this one because it was one of the last ones taken while we were on the beach.  We were nearly the only ones there and it was just so beautiful.

Love Week has ended and I would like to thank everyone participated by reading the guest posts, for the sweet comments, and all the wonderful messages sent over the different social media sites using the #RyanAndBonnie Thank you also to all ten of the bloggers who guest posted while we were away in Wales, up in London, and in Oxford during our time with family and friends for our 10th Wedding Anniversary.  I was just so touched by all the love, not just bestowed to Ryan and I, but to each of the amazing guest bloggers.  Thank you to my readers for making this such a success and to the guest bloggers for encouraging each other.  I have quite a bit to catch up on and I am hoping to be able to have all messages and comments replied too before too long.  Just be patient with me while I get back to you all and know from the bottom of my heart how appreciative I am for your friendship and support.

Have you checked out all ten guest bloggers for Love Week?
Kayleigh – Met the Love of my Life by Chance (How I Wanderlust)
Patricia – My First Love Story (Kisses & Croissants)
Melyssa – Five Love Lessons (The Nectar Collective)
Rachel – Marriage and Moving (Postcards from Rachel)
Bonnie – My 10th Wedding Anniversary (A Compass Rose)
Amanda – ‘How I Fall More in Like with my Husband (Living in Another Language)
Chelsea – Newlyweds Abroad (Lost in Travels)
Belinda – All in the Name of Love(Found Love. Now What?)
Casey – Marriage in a Word (We Took the Road Less Traveled)
Jade – Why I Love my Husband (An Invisible Crown)
Erika – First Date (Chimerikal)

*Wedding Photography by Miriam Pinkston Photography. Follow Miriam Pinkston Visual Artist on Facebook

My 10th Wedding Anniversary – 02.08.13

Today my husband and I have been married for 10 years. It has become the most important anniversary milestone in our twelve years together and our ten years of marriage.  It is a realization in itself that we have been married this long but there is no denying the fact when I also remember that our oldest is now eight years old.  Time really does pass you by.  I recently was given a wedding dvd from one of our wedding guests after I told them we had lost our wedding dvd in a move.  We watched it last night with my sister and it was remarkable to see just how young we were only a decade ago.  It almost seems like a whole different world we were living in as newlyweds.  
We we currently still living in the ‘bubble’ of my conservative christian university in the days before my husband joined the military.  I had my parents’ relationship, a couple who raised their children overseas and loved travel, as my vision of marriage.  I think it is safe to say as newlyweds we both had a more fantasy view of what our life together would be like throughout our marriage.  I had no foreshadowing of the hardships to come our way.  The stresses of military life, starting a family and raising children,  being far from family without a support system, the sudden loss of a parent, and how it would all affect our marriage.  On top of it all it became hard to name a couple I knew that were still married amongst our military friends and acquaintances, and more easier to name those who called it quits.  
In the end my husband and I stayed together, moved abroad together, and have begun a whole new life for our family as expats in England.  Life has never been sweeter.  Yes life has still been hard and we still find our moments of stress. However we know that we have each other.  Being married to your best friend and experiencing all the ups and downs together as partners is what has made our marriage stronger.  
I am so happy to begin another ten years with Ryan and to continue our life overseas.  Though we are no longer those naive newlyweds in their early twenties,  we have both evolved into the people we are today.  I love my husband so much for who he has become and who he is to me.  Something I mentioned in my vows a decade ago.  Today we are getting ready for our Vow Renewal ceremony here in Snowdonia, Wales.  It is been a long anticipated event that we now share with a few family and friends.  It is not our ‘happy ending’ but just another new happy beginning to the next chapter of our love story. 

Have you been following along for love week? 
More coming tomorrow and here has been the 
guest posting line up for the past several days: 
Follow along via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 
with the hashtag: #RyanAndBonnie

A Moment to Reflect

We leave for Wales in just nine days and things have begun to get busy around here.
I do not know if we will have wifi while we are away for our Vow Renewal.
 So I have been preparing posts and working on a surprise for my readers.
Which I will announce soon.
I love to plan to things.
I was planning my own 30th birthday party last year.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the party fell through 
and I was just happy to make it back to England in time
to blow out my candle with my husband.
As I started planning our 10th Anniversary
which quickly became a Vow Renewal celebration
I went on Pinterest to plan out in full force.
Not sure if you have noticed 
but I have twelve boards 
designated to my ‘I Do Again‘ theme.
Even many of my pins from my 30th Birthday ideas
bled into my vision for a perfect Vow Renewal.
But now that my anniversary is just fifteen days away
I have been avoiding pinterest. 
Do not get me wrong I love that site.
But there are just all these things I would have loved to
that when all is said in done is just not practical at this time
I basically am looking around at what is in our house 
to make do with for the ceremony.
Yes I still love planning.
Yes I would still love to host amazing stylized parties.
I’m much inspired by Tori Spelling.
She influenced how I did my son’s comic book party.
I would love to host a few parties a year 
for friends that love to come to dinner parties
that had all these perfect details.
And play the perfect host.
It has made me refocus.
in regards to our vow renewal.
I am happy to just have my family here.
I am under the assumption my husband’s father is still coming.
But his mother has still decided to not come.
I know we cannot force her to be here.
It is still our time of celebration.
It just makes me realize how much I love my family.
And the way they love and accept Ryan unconditionally.
My mum and my sister are flying here to be with us.
My dad will be watching down from heaven.
Our friends from Uni are coming with their kids.
That is what is has become all about…the people.
The memories we will make. 
The photographs that will capture the good times.
We are pretty excited to be counting down the days.
My sons wake me up to tell me how many days
until their Nonna gets here.
They bug me to do a google hangout with her 
it seems like every other day. 
So if I seem a bit busy or slow to answer
on the social media front
it is because we are busy in preparation.
I just needed a day to reflect on everything in my head.
Thank you for listening to me today.
Stay tuned for the special surprise.