There are lots of things that make weddings special. The colors, the clothing, the food, the music—all of these things and more can leave lasting impressions and memories. But the best part of getting married is standing in front of the person you love and affirming your commitment to them. That affirmation and promise of lifelong love and support doesn’t have to be a one time thing. Having a wedding vow renewal can be a great way to celebrate not just your union, but the accomplishment of promising to be with someone no matter what and holding to your word.
Even more than an actual wedding, a wedding vow renewal ceremony is unique to each couple that holds one. That’s because the legal requirements of a wedding and the myriad wedding traditions that we embrace at a wedding just aren’t really a factor for a renewal.
And since your renewal can be anything you want it to be, we have some suggestions that can help you make your recommitment ceremony everything you want it to be.
Why Have a Wedding Vow Renewal?
In the same way that there are many ways a relationship can start, there are many reasons to hold wedding renewal ceremonies. The simplest reason is that the couple just wanted to have a wedding vow renewal—nothing more complex than that.
If you’re wondering “when do you renew your vows?” the answer is, essentially, whenever you want to. Many couples will commemorate major anniversaries with vow renewals. Anniversaries like the 10th, 20th, 25th, or 50th make for great renewal occasions.
Of course, sometimes couples choose to renew their vows because they have weathered a great difficulty. This could include a long military deployment, a major illness such as cancer, or even following an infidelity.
Wedding vows mention staying together through good times and bad, and couples may cite celebrating the good times or surviving the bad times as their reason for a wedding vow renewal.
For other couples, they may have had a small ceremony or an elopement and want to renew their vows with many more of their friends and family. Or perhaps they want to celebrate their love alongside children who didn’t yet exist when they said their vows the first time.
The important thing to remember is that any reason you have for wanting to renew your vows is totally valid. There is no one right or wrong reason to do it.
Planning Your Wedding Vow Renewal
Once you have a reason for your wedding vow renewal, it’s time to look at how to plan a vow renewal. The planning process can be very different, depending on why you’re having your renewal, where you’re having it, and how many people you want there.
No matter the size of your renewal, there are a few general areas that you will need to consider when you start making your plans.
A major consideration for your wedding vow renewal is the budget. Many people get financial assistance from family for their wedding, but you will likely not get that help for your renewal. So make sure your recommitment doesn’t break the bank.
Think about how many people you want to invite to your celebration and find an appropriately sized venue. Unlike a wedding where the ceremony is in one place and the reception is in another, you can just find one venue for your ceremony and your party.
Many places that host weddings and receptions will offer vow renewal packages that can make renting out a space very affordable. One of the most popular venue choices for a renewal is to host your party in your home.
Inviting friends and family into the home you have built as a couple in order to celebrate and rededicate yourself to each other is an inexpensive choice, but a very powerful one. Some couples like to go to the same place they had their wedding to show how much they’ve grown together.
Your venue can be anywhere. From a public park to a professionally run venue, there aren’t really any rules about where you should be hosting your vow renewal.
It isn’t a party without something to eat and drink. What you serve will largely depend on your venue and your food preferences. For example, if you are hosting your wedding vow renewal at your home, a backyard barbeque might be the best choice of menu.
The reason why you are renewing your vows may also affect your dietary selection. If you are celebrating a member of the couple getting their alcoholism under control, a drinks menu full of delicious, non-alcoholic, custom made beverages would be a great idea.
Whether you cook for your guests or hire a catering company will largely depend on where your renewal is taking place, how many people will be there, and what you’ve budgeted for food. There’s no wrong way to do it.
Determine the dress code you want for your renewal. If you want it to be a casual affair, then let it be casual! If you want all your friends and family to have an excuse to dress to the nines, then let them know you’re having a black tie soiree.
Most wedding vow renewals tend to be a bit less formal than black tie. Cocktail attire is very common. But one thing you absolutely must take into account is what you, the couple of honor, are going to wear.
There is no set-in-stone custom for a wedding vow renewal dress. You can wear what you like. Some people like to break out their wedding dress for the occasion. Some people like to wear something reflective of who they are now.
Whether you want to recreate your look from your wedding or put together new outfits using your wedding colors or go with something totally different, you can’t make an incorrect decision here. As with everything around a vow renewal, the most important thing is what you want to wear and see as you recommit yourself to your spouse.
Some Simple Wedding Vow Renewal Ideas
Something important to remember about a wedding vow renewal is that there are no legal requirements for witnesses or a state sanctioned officiant. That means you have a wide range of choices for how you want your renewal to be.
You could have your renewal out in the woods—just you and your officiant—if you so choose and it would be just as valid and meaningful as any other renewal ceremony. Your officiant could be your best friend, your child, your parent, or the officiant from your original wedding. There are no rules.
No matter who is leading you through saying your vows, it is a good idea to have some sort of wedding vow renewal script. This can mean a general outline of the events of the celebration or a literal script for what you and your spouse plan to say.
It’s easy to forget things when you’re up in front of people. A script helps you avoid stumbling over your new expression of everlasting love. Tailor your script to the reasons you are renewing your vows in the first place.
You can bring up specific happy memories you’ve shared together, reference hard times you helped each other through, and pledge yourself to your spouse for the future. A word of advice: dwelling too much on the hard times can be a bummer, so be wary of hitting that part of the script too hard.
You can surprise everyone with your vows or share them ahead of time with your spouse. It’s up to you.
When it comes to decorations, printing out photos from your years together is always a great idea. Surround your guests with the history of your marriage so they can point to memories they shared with you or be surprised by images they’ve never seen before.
Focus on Your Relationship
A wedding vow renewal is about the couple first and foremost. Don’t get too tied up in the pressures of what this guest wants to see or what that guest expects of you. Make it about you. Your history. Your family. Your love.
Renewing your vows is about affirmation and recommitment. By embracing who you are as a couple and creating an event that speaks to what you love and who you are, you cannot go wrong.