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Wedding Vow Renewal: Everything You Need to Know

wedding vows renewal

Many couples choose to renew their wedding vows to recommit to each other. Renewal of wedding vows can happen at any time after your marriage, with some people choosing to renew their vows each year whilst others plan a renewal of vows to celebrate significant events such as a milestone anniversary or having survived through any number of challenges from raising children to reaching life goals together and still being completely in love.

To help you to celebrate and reaffirm your love and commitment for one another here are some things to consider before you start and ways that a renewal of your wedding vows can be both fun and meaningful.

wedding anniversary celebration

Why renewal?

A meaningful vow renewal ceremony is one that works for your relationship. This means that a vow renewal does not have to be a grand occasion like a traditional wedding and can simply be the two of you exchanging vows in a backyard with a small gathering of people. However, if you eloped, your wedding did not go as you wanted, or certain friends and family were unable to attend, it is a chance to invite a large gathering of people for a celebration similar to a wedding reception.

For such a significant event, it is worth investing in a symbolic reminder of the event. You could choose to exchange new rings or perhaps a memento for the day could be a rose dipped in 24 karat gold that is symbolic of your love and a gift that will last a lifetime. This would be a daily reminder of the importance of your wedding vows.

Write your own vows

You can choose to repeat your original vows at your renewal or exchange a new set of vows that are particular to you and not restricted by the rules of legal religious or civil marriages. Writing your own vows might seem daunting but is worth the effort to put make the vows unique to you. Gain inspiration from vow examples from the religious faith that you practice or from others and use what is meaningful to you.  

In your own words

Be united in what you want to achieve with your vows. Do you want to add humour or be poetic and romantic in style? Do you make the same promises to each other as at your wedding or write something different? You can also decide whether the vows are a surprise on the day or shared beforehand.  

Your vows are the most important part of your celebration so should include overarching promises written in your own words and style. This can include general promises such as your support in good as well as challenging times, plus specifics such as a promise to always let them play golf on Sundays. Focus on your future together, and do not draw attention to past negativity in your relationship.

As an example, your vows could start with your affirmation of love, praise for your partner, including the story of how you met and knew you were meant to be married, followed by the offering of promises and a final vow.

You will know your vows are right when you know that you will not be cringing when you read them 10 years from now. Include nothing that will embarrass you or your guests, so leave out anything that feels awkward, like deeply personal anecdotes or code words. Finally, practice reading your vows out loud so you can spot and edit sentences that sound strange. Have a final version without edits for the day in case you need to pass it to the officiant if you become too emotional. This final version could also be a keepsake from the day.

If you want to include children or grandchildren in your event, ask them to write a few words to say at the ceremony as well, to make it a memorable family experience.

Costs and planning

You can spend as little or as much as you want on your wedding vow renewal service or event. If you want a large number of people involved and a very detailed event, it will cost more. Fortunately, you will need just a few weeks to plan a vow renewal event and certainly far less time than actually needed to plan a wedding with the traditions and etiquette rules that often apply.  You and your spouse just need to agree on the budget, the size of the event and the date before you look for a venue and consider catering.

There are no rules

A renewal ceremony is not a replication of your wedding day. Since it is not a legal ceremony, there are no rules, although some officiants and wedding chapels for those wanting to renew their vows in traditional places of worship may ask to see your marriage certificate to confirm that you are already married. However, you can also choose a secular or outdoor space to hold the ceremony.

Include only the elements that you love, you might want to wear your original wedding dress or a new wedding dress, but you can choose to wear what you want. You might like a tiered cake, but this is not an obligation. Keep the event in your own personal style to make it more memorable than something that you think you should, ought or need to do. 

Who Should Be Invited?

Invite family and friends who have supported your marriage over the years. This could be an intimate affair or a large party including extended family. Work acquaintances are not usually invited to such a personal event.

Invitations, similar to a wedding invitation, can be sent out by the couple or their children. This could simply state: The honour of your presence is requested at the reaffirmation [or renewal] of the wedding vows of [names of the couple] with the addition of location, date and time. An alternative is “The children of [names of the couple] request the honour of your presence at the reaffirmation ceremony of their parents.”

Officiants

You can ask anyone to officiate your vow renewal ceremony, which means it could be a church leader or a judge, but it could also be your child or a close friend. You certainly do not need to book an officiant who can perform a legal marriage for a vow renewal. You can also choose not to have an officiant at all, but instead, just speak your vows to each other.

Choice of location

You can renew your vows anywhere that has sentimental meaning for both of you whether at home or abroad, indoors or in the open air.

vows renewed

On vacation

Some couples will have talked about renewing their vows and when on vacation may find it to be the perfect place for their vow renewal. This is particularly true for those couples taking a trip of a lifetime on a milestone wedding anniversary. A destination wedding often recharges romance and creates new, loving memories. If you are a couple that will enjoy this sort of spontaneity, you can ask someone to perform your ceremony or renew your vows by taking on a challenge like a tandem skydive or mountain climb to strengthen your bond without the formalities of a ceremony.

The place you met

If there is a specific location where you first met that holds sentimental value to you, it could be the perfect spot to exchange your promises to each other again. You can ask a restaurant to serve the same meal you had when you first met or hire a movie theatre to show your original wedding video to a private party of family and friends.

Your own backyard

Renewing your wedding vows in your own home, where many of your memories are made, can make for a fun and more relaxed celebration, though outside caterers should be booked so you are not stuck in the kitchen at your party. Add a special touch to the day by renewing your vows under the shade of a tree you planted together or on the deck that you built.

What to wear

The bride can wear whatever she chooses, this could be her original wedding gown if she’s comfortable with it, a new wedding dress or another outfit.  A new piece of jewellery as a gift from the groom adds a romantic touch. She would not be expected to wear a veil, but a hat or flowers in the hair along with a bouquet or a corsage are all acceptable.

The groom might wear his original wedding attire with a new tie or choose an entirely new outfit with a boutonniere in your lapel and perhaps a new watch from his wife to mark the day.

The renewal ceremony

There are no hard rules for a renewal ceremony, but if you want to keep a wedding feel about it, you can both walk down the aisle together.

Along with the exchange of vows, children, close relatives and special friends can do readings, and you can have meaningful music playing, just as you would at a wedding ceremony.

Renewal of vows party

An intimate family dinner or a party as eventful as a traditional wedding reception and anything in between is acceptable. You can have everything you would expect from a wedding reception to include champagne, dancing, a cake and more. Add to your memories by hiring a talented and qualified local wedding photographer locally. Have photographs of your wedding and major family events of the years for guests to look at. At some point during the celebration, the two of you can thank family and friends for their support throughout the marriage.

No gifts

A gift registry is not appropriate. If guests insist on a gift, suggest a donation to your favourite charity.

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