Why Are Some People So Against Vow Renewals?

|||Why Are Some People So Against Vow Renewals?

Reasons People Are Against Vow RenewalsAn Exploration of Etiquette, Cynicism, and Lack of Understanding

Why some people are so against vow renewals is a subject that is near and dear to my heart as the founder of this site, so this is largely an opinion article. When my husband wanted to renew our vows for our 10th anniversary, I found so much negativity on the web on the subject that I was shocked. I wondered why on earth anyone would object to two people wanting to renew their commitment to one another and their marriage. What I found was that there are basically three types of people who are against vow renewals: 1) people obsessed by outdated etiquette, 2) people who are just plain cynical, and 3) people who just don’t understand what a vow renewal is all about. Let’s take a look at the issues and arguments raised by each group:

1) People Obsessed By Outdated Etiquette

The first group of people are truly just out of touch with modern society and the evolution of etiquette. Today, we live in a world where the divorce rate alone makes lasting marriages something to be celebrated. Their primary arguments focus on who should and shouldn’t be invited, what you should and shouldn’t wear, how many people should be invited, how grand the celebration should be, and whether or not gifts are appropriate. Lasting marriages should be celebrated with as much grandeur as the couple wants, be it for a first or 50th anniversary or any other time. Maybe you got married for financial, health, or military deployment reasons or any other reason when at the time you weren’t able to do it the way you wanted. Or maybe you just want to say you still love your spouse. A vow renewal isn’t a wedding, so let go of the supposed rules and outdated etiquette and throw whatever kind of celebration you want.

Seriously, long gone are the days of white dresses being reserved for a virgin bride at her wedding. There is absolutely no even semi-logical reason you shouldn’t wear a big white dress if you want. Just as there’s no reason you should wear one. Today, anyone can wear a white dress for any celebration without a second thought, be it an anniversary, wedding, or on the red carpet. Feel like rocking red or teal? Go for it! It’s your day, and you should wear whatever makes you feel amazing.

I’ve also read the craziest etiquette rules about only inviting close family and friends to a vow renewal. This makes no sense whatsoever. You’d invite the world to a birthday party, so why not invite them to a celebration of love? The great thing about a vow renewal is that it isn’t about who you “have” to invite but about who you want to invite. Feel free to invite as many or as few people as you want and your budget allows for.

I’m pretty sure this group’s opinion that the celebration should be small and private is directly related to their opinions on who should be on the guest list. Honestly, I’m not sure why there should be rules about the style, size, or formality of a vow renewal when none of these would apply to any other kind of celebration. Your celebration should be any style you want, from a big casual backyard barbecue to an intimate family dinner to an upscale cocktail party to a celebration as large and complex as a traditional wedding. Want to have a black tie reception with ballroom dancing – then do it! Prefer cake and punch at the church – that’s perfect too! As you plan your party, go for what feels right to the two of you and don’t give a second thought to these false restrictions.

Let’s talk gifts. The old school etiquette crowd says absolutely not. They’ll even go so far as to say you should put a note in your invitation that says “no gifts.” It seems a bit silly and contradictory. This same group of people would tell you that you should absolutely bring a hostess gift if you were invited to dinner. So maybe registering is a bit much if you’ve been married 25 years and really need nothing, but if you’re holding a vow renewal right after a destination wedding, then I see no reason not to register so guests would have an idea of what you can use. I do think it’s perfectly appropriate for guests to bring a gift no matter how many years you’ve been married though since they would bring a gift of some sort to most any other celebration.

I think we can all agree a vow renewal isn’t a wedding, so please leave your wedding rules at the door!

2) People Who Are Just Plain Cynical

This group’s focus is on the idea that you’re making a lame attempt to “fix” a broken marriage with a vow renewal and it’s not going to work. While I’d agree that a vow renewal won’t fix a broken marriage, I completely disagree that’s what all vow renewals are about. Sure, some celebrity couples do it after troubles in their marriage come to light publicly, and they may or may not stay together. But celebrities aren’t representative of the whole world, and their motivations may or may not be optimal. Many couples are simply wanting to say “I still love you” after several years. Some couples have made it through difficult financial, health, or other personal issues and want to acknowledge their enduring commitment to one another – a celebration of the “for better, or worse” part. Others are doing it to celebrate their recent marriage with family and friends who weren’t able to be there for the wedding for whatever reason. Others have their own special reasons as a couple that aren’t shared with others. The reasons couple choose to have a vow renewal are about as diverse as the couples are themselves. Celebrating your love and commitment to one another is never lame, it is, however, wonderful and special.

3) People Who Just Don’t Understand What a Vow Renewal Is All About

This last group tends to be caught up in the idea that a vow renewal is about trying to have another wedding. The fact is, you only get married once. Marriage is ultimately a contract, and once it’s been signed, you can’t re-sign it. But what you can do is celebrate that marriage in whatever manner you see fit and as often as you want. Are some vow renewals similar to weddings? Sure they are. They come in as many styles as weddings do – big, small, formal, casual, indoor, outdoors, at home, at exotic locations, and so forth. Why shouldn’t they? There’s no real reason not to celebrate your marriage with as grand or as small of a celebration as you like. Perhaps throwing a big gala every year is a bit much, but maybe not if your marriage is staying strong through real challenges and that’s what you want and have the budget for. I’ve seen children’s birthday parties that rival the grandest of weddings, so why shouldn’t your vow renewal? Or maybe the two of you like to have a private ceremony while on your yearly vacation, that’s perfect too. At the end of the day, a vow renewal is about the couple, not everyone else. The only opinion that really matters is yours.

Final Thoughts

One final thought – the beauty of it all is that if a guest feels uncomfortable with your plans for your vow renewal, they don’t have to attend. There’s no social expectation on them either.

This kind of negativity and outdated thinking is nothing new. In fact, it’s what led me to create this site years ago. I wanted to bring a fresh, less judgmental perspective to planning a vow renewal. As you browse IDoStill.com, I hope you feel invited and find ideas that speak to you and your unique needs. If we’ve missed a topic you want to know more about or have a specific question, please let us know in the comments so we can keep building a resource for every couple.

Happy planning!


2017-03-05T12:48:14-05:00Planning Basics|


  1. Anna March 20, 2015 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. We renewed our vows two weeks ago as a celebration of twenty years of marriage. It was a beautiful way of rededicating ourselves, not just to each other, but also to our three beautiful sons. We found ourselves having to explain why it was so important to us and the best explanation I could give was this: When we got married we did it in love and hope; when we renewed or vows we did it in love and knowledge. We know each other’s strengths and faults and still love each other so much that we want to shout it out to the world – and that’s got to be worth celebrating.

    • Karie March 22, 2015 at 7:31 am - Reply

      I don’t think you could have said it better with “When we got married we did it in love and hope; when we renewed or vows we did it in love and knowledge.” What a wonderful explanation. Congratulations on your recent vow renewal!

  2. Carmen April 23, 2015 at 11:46 am - Reply

    I’m so happy I found this article! We’re thinking about a vow renewal for our 10 year celebration. All I have found are articles explaining why I can’t wear white, have a tiered cake, have a big celebration (which would eliminate having our families because they’re HUGE), and how “this generation” thinks they can do anything they want and don’t respect the rules! We still have time to decide what (or if) we’ll do anything, so it’s nice to know that we have options.

    • Desere August 24, 2016 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Yes! My husband and I are wanting to renew our vows on our 7 year anniversary. (the “7 year itch” kind of inspired that anniversary) and all I keep finding is how NOT to do it. I’m so thankful I found this article because now I know I can throw the rules out the window and do what we want.

      • Karie August 25, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

        I’m so delighted you found the inspiration and validation you were seeking on IDoStill.com! It’s our goal to provide you with modern guidance and ideas as you plan your vow renewal. Please let me know if you have any questions along the way.

        Founder and Editor

  3. Megan May 18, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    My husband and I have been married for nearly four years, and we are choosing to “redo” our vows, as we like to say, because our officiant skipped them on our actual wedding day. But that is just one reason of many for why we are doing it. We met and three weeks later we were engaged, then married nearly a year to the day that we met. I was 21 when I met him and 22 when I got married. We both absolutely stand by our decision, but we have also been through a lot of life in these nearly 5 years together and have had some major trials and tribulations sent our way. We mostly want to be able to reaffirm our love and commitment to each other and are choosing to do so with just the two of us, our original officiant, and my best friend that is a photographer (another reason being we had awful wedding photos and this is a chance to get some nice ones). I believe anyone wanting to celebrate their marriage in such a way absolutely should because as stated above, lasting marriage is a rarity and should celebrated.

    • Karie May 18, 2015 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Congratulations on your upcoming vow renewal! Your story is wonderful and we appreciate you sharing it. We hope you’ll come back and share your vow renewal story and pics with us.

  4. Bill Sorrell August 8, 2015 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    My reason is a little different, but I’m really glad I found your site. We originally got married in Vegas, and due to a big blow out certain very close people didn’t make it, and let’s just say there’s been hurt feelings, tears, and resentment ever since. We never had a reception, so our family never got to share much of the experience with us. All that being said we were asked if we would consider renewing our vows in a church, so we are. Will it put all the bad feelings aside, to be honest, we’ve forgiven and forgotten the past, but I think this will put that last little bit of “whatever” aside. It will also give us the opportunity to have our two little boys celebrate with us.

  5. Lori October 31, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    We’ll be celebrating 10 years of marriage in December 2015 by renewing our vows at our local general aviation airport, on the observation deck, with a sit down dinner to follow. Because our wedding 10 years ago was an utter disaster from the time I woke up that day until we fell exhausted into bed that night, I have nothing but horribly painful memories of that day. I’d given in to everyone else’s opinions about what I could and couldn’t wear (my first wedding, he’d been married before), what I should serve, the time of day, the color of my flowers, the people I invited, even my attendants, you name it … I caved in on what I’d wanted and in the end, I was miserable.

    Not this time! I’ll be wearing the gown of my choosing; a stunning pale ivory and silver wedding dress that’s being hand made for me. I’ve made a gorgeous brooch bouquet with jewelry collected from friends and family alike, and will have two friends I love and adore standing beside me! From start to finish, our vow renewal is a reflection of my husband and myself and no one else. This time, we’re making memories for US, and it feels so good!!!

    • Karie November 2, 2015 at 8:08 am - Reply

      Congratulations and good for you! I’m sure your day will be perfect, as it’s about the two of you. Everything about your plans sounds very personal and unique. Your dress and bouquet sound stunning – please share your pics on our Facebook page, we can’t wait to see them!

    • Fleur December 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      My husband and I will celebrate our 50th vows renewal next year. My couturier designed a beautiful V -necked serpentina long gown in ecru and silver for me, but it looks like a bridal gown, because of a circular one- yard toulle overlay with lace appliques at the hem and extends one yard at the back as a train, then shortens into the length of the gown as it reaches the sides of said gown. A website on vows renewal etiquette advises against bridal gowns for celebrants of wedding anniversaries, saying it isn’t in good taste. After reading that, I felt like asking my couturier to design a simple yet elegant evening gown for me. Even if I find her design gorgeous, I feel some reservations about wearing it. Thanks for your comments/ advice.

      • Karie December 8, 2015 at 8:24 am - Reply

        Your vow renewal is about the two of you, thus it’s your dreams and desires your vow renewal is about – not some out-of-date etiquette! This kind of dress advice dates back to the days and attitude that only virgin brides should wear white to their wedding. We all know how that etiquette too has long been disregarded, even in high society around the world. Today, women of all ages are choosing to wear whatever they like as they renew their vows, including traditional bridal gowns in white. You see, when it comes to renewing your vows, there really are no hard rules of etiquette other than skipping the bachelor and bachelorette parties and bridal showers. Vow renewals are as diverse as the couples having them – from black tie celebrations with large guest lists at grand venues to intimate celebrations for two barefoot on the beach.

        Your gown in ecru and silver sounds absolutely stunning and perfect for your 50th anniversary vow renewal. That is a milestone worthy of the most amazing dress and you should feel confident wearing it. If this gown suits your personal style and the style of your event, don’t give a second thought to what you read on that other site and move forward with confidence you’ve made the perfect selection.

    • MrsB July 19, 2016 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for your article. I am planning a vow renewal for me and my husband because our wedding was so crummy. I have decided to just do an event with just the two of us in the Smokey Mountains. Our two dogs will be with us. A nice ceremony reaffirming our vows, a nice dinner looking out at the mountains, and a nice evening alone in our cabin. I see nothing wrong with this but a lot of people are ripping me apart for wanting closure on a lousy wedding day that brings me to tears every time I think about it. Why do people have to be so mean?

      • Karie July 19, 2016 at 2:54 pm - Reply

        The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need anyone’s approval! Why you’re renewing your vows is very personal decision. Only you know how you feel about your wedding day and why. Many couples look to paint a new memory of them committing themselves to one another – and for as many reasons as there are couples. The mean people, well they just don’t get it. Maybe someday they will, but it really doesn’t matter. This is about you and your husband, not them. Enjoy your getaway to the mountains and say what’s in your heart! Rejoice in this wonderfully intimate celebration you have planned and let all of your thoughts be focused on one another.

        Congratulations again on your upcoming celebration! It truly is all about the two of you. If you have any questions or need ideas, please let us know, we’re here to help!
        Founder and Editor

  6. Adam March 2, 2016 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    I am really happy to have found this site. My wife and I are going to renew our vows this summer and I am looking forward to it! We got married 14 years ago and it was just us and 2 friends on the beach. She had been married before and had a huge wedding. I had never been married and always wanted a big wedding but we were broke and couldn’t afford it. None of her family came because they didn’t approve, none of my family came because they live overseas. Now we can afford it all of my family has passed away and cannot come for obvious reasons, and none of hers are coming. It will just be the 2 of us. We are excited about the vow renewal, but not sharing a wedding with family is a regret I will always carry.

  7. Wanda March 25, 2016 at 8:19 am - Reply

    Hi Karie I am so happy I found your site. My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in 7 months. we always said when we got to 25 we would renew, we have been through a lot of trials. We have lost a lot of family members, we have had financial difficulties, and I myself was almost lost to my family a few years ago. We have been through so much but our love and respect for each other never wavered. And now our two daughters are grown and we are planning the renewal with a fall theme. We looked at other sites, and while some did give us a few ideas, there were a lot of you cant do this and that. But our plans are coming together and it will be a uniquely us celebration. Thank you again for your help and encouraging words, they really put me on track to a happy renewal. Thank you.

  8. helen lowe April 13, 2016 at 9:15 am - Reply

    We plan to retake our vows next year, we are doing it at home with only our three children and their other halves plus hubby’s mom. We are making most of what we need ourselves to keep the costs sown and to make it our own.

    I just want to thank you for this site, we have received negative comments mostly from people who thought they should be included.

  9. Loree May 9, 2016 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for creating this site and for writing this article. When we married almost 30 years ago, our parents controlled the whole thing. His father controlled the ceremony. His mother controlled the reception. My father controlled the photographer. And my mother controlled everything else, even choosing my dress. I always dreamed of a garden wedding, but we were married in a church. Not a pretty church, either. A very ugly church. We were married in July, but now because of strange health conditions, I can no longer be in the sun or temperatures above 72 degrees. For our vow renewal, I’m going to have my dream garden ceremony, though. We’re having a Christmas garden renewal on my birthday in December. I am having so much fun planning the ceremony and reception that we want! We’re even learning how to dance so that we can finally have our “first dance”. Dancing was strictly forbidden in our homes growing up. Our parents won’t be there and we’re ok with that. We’re focusing on us, our children, our friends, & the last 30 years!

  10. Shannon May 25, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    We are renewing our vows after 25 years. I had a brain trauma that left me without memory of my wedding. So after six years of falling in love again with my spouse we decided to renew them so I can also have the experience. My first with him, his second with me.
    As far as people not getting it… We are not doing it for them, it is for us. It will be our day, we just felt like sharing it with the ones we love. So all in all, it does not matter what other people think, it not about them.
    thank you

    • Karie June 3, 2016 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Congratulations on your upcoming celebration! It truly is all about the two of you. If you have any questions or need ideas, please let us know, we’re here to help!


  11. tiffany wilder June 3, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Glad I came upon this site after reading so many negative things about renewing your vows. I’m planning a vow renewal for the summer of 2017 after a year of marriage. Me and my husband have been together for many years though. We had planned a wedding for the summer of 2012 at the time I was four months pregnant and no the wedding wasn’t because of my pregnancy we already had a daughter. But I had to have emergency surgery to save my unborn sons life and was put on bed rest for five months so I had to unfortunately cancel my upcoming wedding. So we decided to plan for the following year but my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer which caused a lot of stress and anxiety for me. we moved in order to be close to my dad and finances were tight. My dad passed a year and a half later and I didn’t want to walk down the aisle without him. So we eventually just decided to go to the justice of the peace with my mom and two kids it was during the week so no one else could make it. Now that things are settled I want a celebration. I was actually thinking about not going ahead with things but since I came upon this site I’m feeling totally different and can’t wait to celebrate my vow renewal, the celebration of a relatinship that has stood strong through some tough times. Good Vibes Only!

    • Karie June 3, 2016 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story! It’s stories like yours thank keep us motivated to make this site great and add new content. You deserve the vow renewal of your dreams, so please let us know if you have any questions or need ideas, we’re here to help. I’d like to personally invite you to connect with us on Facebook and share your planning process and pictures of your big day. https://www.facebook.com/idostill/

      Karie, Founder and Editor

  12. Sarah May 28, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Happy Day! I love this site. I’m just going to come here to plan our 10th. I have a million ideas about how to plan it. I really don’t get cynical people who think vows are broken, or in need of repair for a vow renewal. It just doesn’t make sense to me. We are mormon and got married in the LDS Temple. Usually there is no vow renewals because of that, but I decided I want to plan one anyway. When I told someone, who isn’t of our faith, about it (a family friend of my great-uncle), she was all for it. I want to combine a Christmas party with it, since we got married near Christmas time. I decided Ivory will be my dress color, and there are beautiful Ivory formal dresses, but I also am drawn to grayish to silver “mother of the bride/groom” type dresses because they are formal enough and quite pretty (and usually modest). I just am glad you’ve written this site and hope it stays around for a long, long time.

    Thank you for this site! I love it!

  13. Staci June 1, 2017 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Karie, I LOVE that you were inspired to create this site. You are absolutely RIGHT about there being MANY different reasons a couple would chose to renew their vows. My husband and I plan to renew ours this November, but I have to admit I HAVE been worried about people judging our motives… Here’s why: My husband and I were happily married for 16 years when he tearfully confessed to a betrayal that happened a couple years earlier and I was absolutely shocked and devastated (it was the last thing I would have expected since we’ve always been so in love and connected – or so I thought!). We were growing in our Christian faith and my husband felt he couldn’t be right with God and honest with me unless he confessed and repented from his bad choice back then. He has been absolutely broken over it and calls it the biggest mistake of his life. Obviously, I have been broken-hearted as well. For the past 2 years, through our love, God’s guidance, and good counseling – I am thankful to say I/we have been healing from everything and we now feel closer and more authentic than ever in our relationship. Several people in our life know this difficult journey we’ve endured… and now we want to “renew” our commitment to each other and move forward… We are so excited to do this, but as you mentioned, some people may view it like we are trying to “fix” something. The fact is, what was broken HAS been RESTORED (by God) or else we wouldn’t WANT to renew our vows and commitment. It is more of a reflection on what God has already done in our lives and we want to celebrate that! Marriage isn’t always easy, but if we love one another and love God, we have a beautiful shot at enjoying a life-long marriage NO MATTER WHAT trials we go through. Signed, THANKFUL!

  14. Leana April 10, 2018 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Karie thanks for clearing that up!!!! Renewing my vows was supposed to be a wonderful time for me….but along the processes I run into the same snags as I did when I got married the first time choosing court house marriage with no family…they are a problem…my mother doesn’t support me and my Dad has finally come around…why do they have to be such a burrden…just reminded me of how lucky I am to never be alone again.,,,that’s how I always felt with them alone…untill my husband of going on 9 years put me back together from being neglected….so I will ignor them and have the wedding/vow renewal we never had….love you husband….our kids will get those wedding pictures of their parents after all…my sweet babies..

  15. Mrs. Brigham February 10, 2019 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. All I ran into were restrictive vow renewal rules and seriously began to reconsider. Now I feel free to move forward and celebrate how my husband and I want to. Thank you again!

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