Everything you need to know about designing your own vow renewal ceremony
One of the most beautiful things about a vow renewal ceremony is that there are no rules since it’s not a legal ceremony. While most vow renewals follow the general order of processional, welcome, readings, vows, kiss, recessional, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t do something unique. If you’ve been wondering how to plan a vow renewal ceremony that’s entirely personal, you can either start from scratch or customize a sample ceremony format you like.
The key to designing your own vow renewal ceremony is to focus on what the ceremony means to the two of you. Reflecting on your relationship, you need to figure out what typical elements are and aren’t relevant to you. Plus, if there are ceremony elements that you’ve seen online or in-person that you love, this is your chance to incorporate them into your ceremony.
Creating a personalized ceremony will help you feel even more connected to one another and renewed and rooted in your marriage. It should make your guests want to get up and give the two of you a huge hug!
Here are our favorite tips on how to create a vow renewal ceremony that will do precisely that.
It’s All About Timing
Guests tend to have short attention spans, but you also don’t want to leave them feeling like something was missing. The ideal length for a vow renewal ceremony is 20 to 25 minutes. This includes the processional and recessional. If you go longer, guests will feel like it’s overdone and less meaningful. Anything shorter will leave them wondering what the point of the whole vow renewal is.
Focus on the Flow
When you’re working with a ceremony length of 20 to 25 minutes, it’s essential to focus on the flow of the ceremony. No single element should create an awkward transition or dead space. Readings are often the cause of flow issues. You’ll want to keep them short and limit them to a couple. They should also be placed separately within the overall ceremony.
Definitions of Love, Marriage, or Commitment Aren’t Necessary
A vow renewal shouldn’t be a lecture by the officiant on love and marriage. You want your guests to feel uplifted and have their belief in marriage renewed. The message and tone of the ceremony should be designed to accomplish this. While people don’t typically recall what was said, they do remember the overall tone and how the service made them feel.
Acknowledge Your Past, Present, and Future
Every vow renewal should reflect on the couple’s past, celebrate their present, and honor their future together. While conceptually simple, they are also profound. These elements combine to affirm their marriage and commitment to one another – the reason for the celebration.
Centralize the Exchange of the Symbols of Your Love
Some couples will opt to get new rings for their vow renewal, others will select to exchange other gifts. Yet others will go with a simple blessing of their hands. Whichever choice you make, this ritual should be placed in the middle of your ceremony. For guests, this tends to be the highlight of the service.
Include Unity Rituals
Unity rituals serve to reinforce the meaning of your vow renewal. There are a wide variety of unity ceremony ideas to choose from the traditional candle ceremony to paint, wine, and lantern ceremonies. Pick one that feels right for the two of you and complements your overall vow renewal.
Select Meaningful Music
The music you use for your processional, ceremony enhancements, and recessional should be meaningful to the two of you. Feel free to get creative. You can go with traditional music or something nostalgic, contemporary, or even alternative. Think about using the songs you both sing to in the car, remind you of special moments in your relationship, or even the score from your favorite movie. The important thing is to make sure that it complements the overall tone of the ceremony.
If you want to have someone sing a song during the ceremony, pair it with a unity ritual to prevent the dreaded awkward pause.
Include Guests in the Ceremony
Make those readings more compelling by breaking them up into smaller pieces for multiple guests to read. It’s quite charming to have the selected guests seated in a rough circle amongst the other guest, creating an interactive feel and sense of intimacy.
Incorporate Readings from Your Native Languages
Pay homage to your culture and history by including readings in your native languages (if appropriate). Put the English translations in the program. Providing a signer for the ceremony is also thoughtful if you have hearing-impaired guests.
Limit Elements to Those That are Meaningful
Designing a 20-minute ceremony can be more daunting than it first sounds like. Still, it’s critical that you avoid filling time with meaningless elements. This is your vow renewal, so everything you decide to include should mean something to you. From the ceremony script to the enhancements, each word should be focused on your relationship.
Choose an Officiant You Connect To
You can choose anyone you like to officiate your vow renewal ceremony. The vital thing to keep in mind is that whomever you select, they will play a significant role in your ceremony. It’s essential to choose someone you connect with that has a good presence when speaking in front of a group. If you’re a member of a house of worship, you can ask them to be your officiant. However, don’t feel pressured to choose them if you are planning a very casual vow renewal that will not be held in your house of worship. Grown children can also make wonderful officiants.
Be Creative When It Comes to Attendants (or Skip Them)
Attendants are utterly optional for vow renewals since you don’t need witnesses to sign anything. If you do want to have them, consider inviting unexpected but meaningful friends or relatives to join you. Your dear aunt that always wanted to be a bridesmaid but never got the chance is a perfect pick. You can also consider asking your mothers or grandmothers to serve as flower girls. There’s really nothing sweeter and more whimsical than seeing your daughter push your elderly grandmother down the aisle in her wheelchair as she tosses petals. It’s also wonderful to have your children or grandchildren stand up with you as attendants.
Note: Your vow renewal ceremony should be the heart of your celebration, not just a formality you have to get through so you can party. Make time to really focus on making this part of your celebration personal and meaningful. If partying at the reception afterward is your top priority, skip the vow renewal and just throw an awesome party for your friends and family.