Double Take

Vow Renewal: Holly & Rodney

Actress Holly Robinson Peete and former professional NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete, re-exchanged their vows on February 13 atop the Empire State Building.

After 17 years of marriage and with four healthy and happy children to show for it, anyone deserves to celebrate with a vow renewal ceremony. But when you are also a Hollywood couple accustomed to the glare of the limelight in a city not known for a longevity in marriages, there is every reason to celebrate big. Their glamorous evening event designed by Colin Cowie drew on some details they featured at their 1995 Los Angeles wedding—but they also added new elements that reflected the near two decades of life they’ve built together.

All four of the Peete children were involved in the heartfelt re-exchange of vows. They crafted 17 ways they loved their parents, from, “I love the way mom sings and the way dad dances around,” to, “We couldn’t live our lives without you.”

Hand-selecting celebrity event planner Colin Cowie to produce the affair was easy. He’d been there the first-time around as the event planner behind their mountaintop nuptials at the Brentwood estate of Les Moonves, former president of Warner Brother Television. Back in 1995, with Jesse Jackson as officiant and guests like Patti LaBelle, Sugar Ray Leonard and Debbie Allen in attendance, Colin served a relaxed Southern menu of dishes like fried chicken and catfish and sautéed greens.

That day Holly had surprised her new husband with a musical performance by the entire University of Southern California marching band, Rodney’s alma mater. Dressed in a bespoke long-sleeved white silk satin gown adorned with beaded pearls and Austrian crystals, Holly, a successful actress who’s starred in four syndicated TV shows and is usually in command of her emotions, was so touched at her ceremony that she sobbed when she and Rodney exchanged their vows.

17 years later, instead of a hilltop the 61st floor of the iconic Empire State Building provided the suitable perch for their vow renewal. Revisiting the color palette of their first wedding, Colin’s décor this time around blended chic lavenders, amethyst and light rose with metallics. An amazing artistic piece called “Blossom” by Tord Boontje for Swarovski Crystal Place, embellished with crystal flowers, served as the ceremony’s arch. This time Pastor A. R. Bernard, founder of the Christian Cultural Center, officiated.

All four of the Peete children--daughter Ryan and sons, Rodney, Jr., Robinson and Roman--were involved in the heartfelt re-exchange of vows. They crafted 17 ways they loved their parents, from, “I love the way mom sings and the way dad dances around,” to, “We couldn’t live our lives without you,” that Colin had printed in the guests’ ceremony programs. They also joined their parents in a moving candle-lighting tradition at the altar. As in 1995, it was Colin’s sentimental touches that laid the groundwork for a ceremony again filled with tears of love and joy.

A musical surprise or two was also in store for the couple and their famous guests like Star Jones, Al Roker and Boris Kodjoe at this repeat performance. Colin arranged for famous gospel music singer BeBe Winans to surprise Holly and Rodney with a serenade. When everyone moved onto an elegant reception with music and dancing provided by Donna D’Cruz, Colin was sure to feature a menu, catered by Mary Giuliani Catering, which was inspired by the couple’s original Southern fare menu in 1995.

The magical night could only be surpassed by the amazing journey that both Holly and Rodney publicly spoke of, surrounded by family and friends, during their ceremony.

Décor and glamour aside, this night re-affirmed the sanctity of marriage and Rodney’s words at the ceremony certainly gave a hint at to what make makes not just a Hollywood marriage, but any marriage endure: “People search their whole lives and never find their true partner in life. I am blessed. No one knows me, understands me and loves me like Holly and I love everything about her.” Amen.

--Erinn Bucklan

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