Rachelle Friedman Chapman and her husband, Chris Chapman renewed their vows last month, eleven years after an accident at Rachelle’s bachelorette party that left her paralyzed.
The couple renewed their vows on July 22 in a ceremony in front of their family and friends at Fearrington Village in North Carolina, Today reports.
But unlike, some vow renewals, it wasn’t about getting a new ring for the couple, the ceremony was about celebrating their love for each other.
When the couple first got married after Rachelle’s accident they wanted to “show the world true love did exist,” but this time, they did it to celebrate their love.
Speaking with the Today show, Rachelle said: “When we first got married, we wanted to show the world true love did exist. We did this one for us, to celebrate our love ten years after a lot of people doubted that it could last forever.
“We didn’t do it to prove everyone wrong, but at the same time, my advocacy is to break stereotypes. People automatically assumed he’s gone now that we’re not in the media spotlight like when we first got married. I would hope more people had a love that if their significant other was hurt, they wouldn’t leave.”
At the time of their first wedding, the couple would read comments from people who presumed that Chris would leave once the public attention had disappeared, something that he took personally at the time.
“I took it personally, you just can’t believe it, but negativity is out there,” Chris said. “Over time you get desensitized and keep doing what you do, living the marriage and being successful.”
Rachelle was left paralyzed from the chest down back in 2010 after one of her bridesmaids playfully pushed her into a shallow pool at her bachelorette party. As a result, she fractured the C6 vertebra in her neck meaning her initial wedding, which dominated the news, had to be postponed until 2011 while she began her recovery.
Speaking of the difference between her wedding then and vow renewal, Rachelle said: “Ten years later my body and my mental state are so much stronger. My arms are bigger, I look healthier, I’m driving now and getting in and out of bed on my own now. It’s such a stark difference.”
While Chris added: “She continues to grow as an individual and get stronger with her physical ability and to grow as a mother as far as what she figures out she’s able to do with Kaylee. She’s found a way to find her own path for success.”
But despite having adjusted to her new life and being more independent, Rachelle does still need help sometimes.
“I do need help, I’m not 100% independent, but there’s so many ways he needs help as well,” she said. “He has more anxiety than I do and gets a little overwhelmed, and I’m a very chill person, so I’m able to counteract that for him.
“People see disabilities and automatically assume the able-bodied person is doing more than the person in the chair. It’s a totally equal relationship between what I give him and he gives me.”
Although Rachelle and Chris have faced many struggles in life, their marriage remains stronger than ever as that is “what held us together.”
“I would put our marriage up against anybody else,” Chris Chapman said. “Life has been tough, but the marriage hasn’t.”