I get to plan a lot of weddings, and almost all of my brides come to me with at least a few wedding details figured out. I find that most people have been to enough weddings to have a pretty good basis of where to start the planning process. However, not many of us have attended a lot of vow renewals. Where do you start? This week’s how-to post is all about wedding vow renewals and how to have your own!
When do I renew my vows?
A lot of couples use vow renewals to celebrate 10, 25, or 50 years of marriage (or any major milestone anniversary). These are often hosted by the couple or their children. Another reason to renew your vows is overcoming a recent obstacle in your relationship. An example would be a serious illness, loss of a loved one, or separation. Unfortunately, relationships are not always easy; they require work and dedication. A renewal of your vows can be the perfect way to celebrate rededicating yourselves to each other.
What do I do at a Vow Renewal?
A lot of couples use this ceremony as an opportunity to upgrade their wedding rings; however, this is not a must. Another idea is to put an engraving on the rings from your wedding. There are no rules, feel free to use the rings you already have, no engraving or anything. I personally think it’s sweet and nostalgic to rededicate your love with the rings you used the first time years ago.
I can’t say this enough, there are no rules. That’s a lie, there are some etiquette rules (that we’ll get to later), but with most aspects of your renewal you can make it whatever you want. For your vows, consider writing new vows now that you have years of experience with your spouse. Or, recite the vows you had at your wedding, whether they are vows you wrote or traditional wedding vows. You can get an officiate, but since there are no legal aspects you can have anyone you’d like presiding over the ceremony. This allows you to get someone very close to you and your spouse to fill this important role.
Have a Reception
What better way to celebrate the love you’ve shared with someone than with a party? From an intimate cocktail party to a full-on dance party, your reception can be as laid back or exciting as you want. A good thing to remember is a vow renewal is not a wedding. Don’t get bogged down in the details and stress yourself out. Vow renewals are often more informal than a wedding, so don’t stress about having the perfect day- just have fun! Also, if you want to skip on all the planning, just have a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant after the ceremony. You can easily call and reserve a room and enjoy dinner with friends without the fuss!
What do I not do at a vow renewal?
There are a few etiquette rules to discuss when renewing your vows. First, remember that this is not a wedding. A few no-no’s would be wearing a wedding dress, having a wedding shower, having a wild bachelor / bachelorette party, inviting everyone you know, or have a formal wedding party. While this is a formal ceremony, a wedding dress is not the most appropriate attire. Feel free to wear white, though! Also, gifts are not to be expected for a vow renewal. You and your spouse have spent years building your life and home together. This celebration is more focused on what you have accomplished together; therefore, gifts are not expected as you are not beginning a new life with one another. Additionally, vow renewals are typically for family and close friends. I do think there is some room to expand that list if you are looking for a large event, but don’t invite those whom you don’t consider important people in your life. Your college roommate from ten years ago probably shouldn’t make the guest list (unless you’re still close), but your neighbor who you occasionally invite to dinner parties might could depending on your relationship with them. Lastly, the ceremony is solely focused on you and your spouse. There is no need for a family member to give you away. A few things you can do if you would still like to honor important people in your lives is have your children walk with you down the aisle to celebrate the love of the family you have built together. Perhaps consider having your children stand with you instead of a formal wedding party.
Now that I’ve gone over the vow renewal etiquette let me give you a personal disclaimer: I love anything nontraditional. I think it is important that I let you know what is proper etiquette for a vow renewal, but if I’m honest, I’m a big fan of anyone stepping outside the box of normalcy. Most vow renewals don’t have wedding parties, wear a wedding dress, or walk down the aisle. There are legitimate reasons for this (your dad can’t really give you to someone you’ve given yourself to years ago), but I’ve also heard many couples say they never got a wedding and would like to renew their vows full wedding style. I do think you should make a few tweaks to the ceremony to make sure it’s appropriate for a married couple, but if you want to have a large scale celebration, I say go for it! The one thing I do stick by is no gifts. I would consider it on the tacky side to expect gifts for a vow renewal even if you never had a formal wedding ceremony. That, and no crazy bachelor / bachelorette parties. I hope this goes without saying, but it is of the upmost importance that you respect your spouse.
Finally, fun ideas to get you started planning!
Now comes my favorite part: unique ideas for your vow renewal!
Have a destination vow renewal. Most vow renewals only include family and close friends (no need to invite your mom’s boss)! The smaller guest list often allows you to take to a great destination for your vow renewal!
Have an elopement vow renewal. My mom always talked about how she would have loved to run away and get married but never did in order to include everyone in the celebration. How romantic to run away and renew your vows, just the two of you!
Incorporate your wedding day accessories into your outfit. While your outfits may be different this time around, pull out the earrings, necklace, and cuff links from your wedding day!
Have a memory timeline. I’ve seen this many different ways – a table with pictures, a memory runner down the aisle, a string of photos tacked to a wall, so many possibilities! Add the dates of important days in your relationship like first date, wedding day, children’s birthdays, etc.
Have a themed ceremony based on your honeymoon. Did you have a tropical honeymoon after your wedding? Serve a tropical signature cocktail, pineapple skewers, and wear bright colored attire for something a little different than your typical ceremony!
Most importantly, remember why you’ve decided to renew your vows. Rededicating your love is an important step in a relationship that reminds you of the promises you made years ago. It’s a great time to reflect on your relationship and why you are together. It’s also a great way to celebrate all you have accomplished in your relationship and lives together.