How to Plan a Surprise Vow Renewal Ceremony

Six tips for giving your guests an unforgettable celebration by surprising them with your vow renewal.

If you’d like to have a vow renewal, but would like to keep it small and drama-free, a surprise vow renewal might be perfect for you. You simply invite friends and family to a party and, surprise, they find themselves at your vow renewal. It’s a beautiful way to create a special celebration. Yet, it involves all the planning and organization of a typical vow renewal.

Here are six tips to help you plan the perfect surprise vow renewal.

Personalize It

The style options for creating a surprise vow renewal are endless; it can be as casual or as formal as you like. You’ll want to focus on incorporating elements that define you as a couple to make the day more intimate and unforgettable. This is the perfect time to hire a cover band to play your retro favorites, have a signature meal or desserts served to guests, or treat everyone to fireworks. Build-in personal details that will keep your guests guessing and wanting more.

Get Everyone There

A milestone anniversary or birthday is the perfect time to get everyone together. This allows you to impress upon guests’, particularly family, the importance of their attendance without giving away the real reason for the celebration. You’ll want to make sure the style of your cover event matches the desired style of your actual event. You don’t want guests thinking they’re coming to a casual backyard barbecue when you’re actually planning a more formal cocktail-style party. Use the wording on your invitations to help your guests understand the formality and dress code for the occasion. Your invitations should go out two to four weeks in advance, but if you’re expecting guests to travel, it’s fine to send them out four to six weeks before the event.

It’s all About the Logistics

You need to secure the traditional vow renewal basics, such as an officiant, venue, catering, and entertainment. You’ll need to make a few tweaks to the style of ceremony and reception you want to keep it a surprise. Surprise vow renewals tend to work best with a modern or minimalist style. You’ll want to do your best to secure RSVPs without being too obvious. Having an approximate guest count and a secure hidden spot for food prep at your venue is essential for your caterer.

Who to Tell

Since it’s your guests you’re surprising, it’s essential only to tell the people you absolutely need to, such as your vendors and their staff. The more people who know, the more likely it is that word will get out about your plans. You can also tell one or two other people that are essential to your planning or who you’d like to participate in your vow renewal ceremony.

How to Surprise Your Guests

Surprises are all about timing! The perfect time to hold your ceremony is just as everyone is seated for dinner or just before dessert is served. Keep in mind that you’ll need to match the style of your attire to that of your guests to prevent arising suspicion.

If you really want to wear more formal attire, such as a gown, suit, or even tuxedo, you can also plan to have the ceremony shortly after guests arrive. Assign someone else to welcome guests and let your appearance mark the start of the ceremony time.

Capture the Event with Photography

You’ll want to capture all of the special moments of your surprise vow renewal with photos and videos. These will become precious keepsakes over the years. Selecting and booking a photographer and videographer should be at the top of your to-do list once you’ve chosen a date. You might need to choose an off-season date and opt for a Friday or Sunday in order to hire in-demand professionals. This is the perfect time to have some family photos taken in addition to portraits of the two of you. Don’t forget to have the photographer also capture great candid shots of the celebration and your guests.