Vow Renewal DO’s and DON’Ts

When it comes to vow renewals, there are not really a lot of rules. It’s about expressing your love for each other and your continued commitment to your marriage in […]

When it comes to vow renewals, there are not really a lot of rules. It’s about expressing your love for each other and your continued commitment to your marriage in a way that is uniquely you. However, there are five general do’s and don’ts to keep you on the right track with common etiquette to get you started planning your vow renewal:

Do feel free to wear a white dress. Or any other color that pleases you for that matter!

The days of white being reserved for virgin brides are long gone. You can feel free to wear whatever color, be it white, black, red, champagne or any other color your heart desires. Just select a style that suits your personality, figure, and the style of the vow renewal and makes you feel like a million bucks. If you wore a tulle and taffeta dress the first time that made you feel like a big marshmallow, now if your chance to go with something fitted and sophisticated.

Do have attendants, if you want.

Some couples opt for the same people who were in their original bridal party. Or perhaps you have a new set of close friends that you want to stand up with you. It’s also a great idea to have your children participate and stand up with you as your attendants, flower girls, or ring bearers depending on their ages. When it comes to dresses and tuxes, you should pay for them. If you can’t afford it, go with common colors and let them select something they can wear again or already have. Most ladies have a nice black cocktail dress or could use one. A black suit and white dress shirt tend to be a staple in a man’s wardrobe. Simply add coordinating ties!

Do include your kids in the celebration.

In addition to having them be part of the wedding party, you can also use this as an opportunity to reinforce your love for them. Make family memories by including them in the ceremony with a unity candle or sand ceremony.

Do have whatever style of reception you want.

Plan the reception the two of you really wanted the first time but didn’t quite turn out the way you hoped the first time. This time there’s no demanding mother or mother-in-law controlling the purse strings. If you can afford it, you can do it! Just about any type of reception goes for a vow renewal, however, you don’t want a repeat of your wedding. Follow your dreams, whether they are for a black tie affair in a ballroom, an intimate family gathering in the backyard, or a romantic destination celebration under the shade of a tent overlooking the ocean. Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself just because you’ve done it all before.

Vow Renewal Dos and Dont's - No Gifts

Don’t expect gifts.

This is a vow renewal, not a wedding. While it’s not appropriate to put “no gifts” on your invitations, you shouldn’t expect to receive any. Your gift is the presence of your friends and family sharing in your special day.


Basically no on all accounts.

Bachelor and bachelorette parties are not acceptable under any circumstances. You’re married and no longer a bachelor or bachelorette.

Bridal showers are also not acceptable. You are married and presumably have a home together.

Now that you’ve read all the “do’s and don’ts,” get planning!


  1. Danielle Davis October 2, 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this article, my husband and I are renewing our vows in our 25th anniversary next and I have already bought an actual wedding dress, Because. I couldn’t afford one when we got married I’ve seen so many articles from supposed vow renewal etiquette “experts” saying that a wedding dress is inappropriate I was a little concerned. I’m glad to see this information is outdated. I do agree that the pre parties are not appropriate, however my daughter wants to host a “bridal shower” for me because I never got one I’m not looking for gifts or anything like that in this occasion is there something else she can call it other than a bridal shower so people don’t take it the wrong way? Thanks in advance.

    • Karie October 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      We’re so glad you’ve found our information helpful and supportive!

      On the topic of a “bridal shower” things get a bit more challenging since the point of it is gift-giving. The tradition of having a bridal shower is to shower gifts upon the bride to help her begin her married life; an alternative to the dowry system where gifts were given to girls with a father opposed to the marriage or those who were poor so they could secure their husband.

      Perhaps you could have a ladies brunch, tea party, or cocktails with your close family and friends prior to the celebration. It would be a great opportunity to ask guests to bring photos of you and your husband to share that could be incorporated into a video or slide show that you show at your reception. Some great themes could include reflections, memory lane, best love scenes (movie theme), or the sands of time (beach theme).

      For instance:
      Let’s Do Brunch – You are invited to a Ladies Brunch at the home at (daughter’s name)
      It’s a tea party in honor of Danielle
      You’re Invited to Ladies Night – Join us as we collect the best love scenes from her 25 years with (Husband’s Name)

      Congratulations again on this wonderful milestone!
      Founder & Editor

  2. Tracie June 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    My husband and I eloped last year and would like to have a reception party on our anniversary. Is it inappropriate to ask guests to donate to the honeymoon we never went on?

    • Karie June 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Congratulations on your marriage! Since a year will have passed and you wouldn’t be renewing your vows, this would actually simply be an anniversary party. It’s common for guests to treat the couple with a gift in honor of their anniversary when the party is large or elaborate, but it shouldn’t be expected. To make your wishes known, you can have friends and family spread the word that a gift of money would be lovely or that you’re registered with one of the popular honeymoon fund sites. If you happen to be friends with your guests on social media, you can also mention how excited you are to finally be planning your honeymoon, that you’ve found an awesome honeymoon registry site, and so forth in amongst your normal posts.

      • Tonita February 8, 2020 at 9:21 pm - Reply

        When is the best time to renew your wedding vows can I renew my vows this year

        • Karie February 9, 2020 at 2:27 pm - Reply

          The best time to renew your vows is when you and your spouse feel it is the right time. There is no specific milestone or date that makes it perfect. Just the love of two people!

  3. Judy Tiziani March 16, 2018 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Hi my husband nd I married in Las Vegas 10 years ago in May. So we are renewing our vows in May and our family and friends are all attending, about 30 people. It will be very informal, held on the beach across the road from where we live and then dinner after at the small cafe on the beach. My question is – do we have a cake and if so, what is the procedure? Is there a cutting of the cake like a wedding? Or is it just displayed then cut later in the evening? Also, although the actual ceremony is very serious for us we want to have some fun at the after party. My sisters are organising a photo booth but what other sort of things could we do to have some fun with everyone joining in?
    Thanks so much

  4. Rebecca Morgan July 29, 2018 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    Do you have bridesmaids for renewal of vows?

    • Karie July 31, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

      You can absolutely have attendants for your vow renewal if you like. Here’s a link to all of our articles on vow renewal attendants to answer any other questions you may have.

      Happy planning!
      Founder and Editor

  5. Jackie October 25, 2018 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    My husband and I will be renewing our vows next year for our 15th Anniversary. I want to wear a white dress and was unsure if I still could. It makes me feel better that there is some outdated information. We’re going to have it at an old hotel with no more than 20 people and a small dinner after.

  6. jessie January 19, 2019 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    my husband and I were married in June & as our 10 year anniversary is coming up i was wondering, would it be weird if we renewed our vows in October. I’m big into halloween & he’s fine with anything i want to do.

    • Karie January 20, 2019 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      You can renew your vows at any time! It’s difficult to hold a vow renewal on the exact date you were married, so most couples opt for a date that works best for them. This is particularly true when wanting a different style of celebration, renewing your vows while on vacation/cruising, or when your anniversary falls on or near a holiday. If you’re celebrating your vow renewal as part of a big anniversary celebration (25th, 50th), guests do tend to expect the event to be close to your wedding date, but even then things may simply work better at another time. Feel free to do what works best for you and your husband!

      Best wishes for your upcoming vow renewal!

  7. Nikki Webbe-Simmons May 26, 2019 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    I never had a wedding . We just had civil ceremony that was attended by our parents. I always said if we are married for a few years then we have earned the wedding. I’ve seen so many people get married and are separated before they have finished paying for the wedding. So needless to say I’ve never had any of it. To top it off we had a house fire a few years ago have never returned to our home and lost a lot of things. My husband was deployed at that moment so I was left on my own. Now for some reason I really want the experience but feel unsure as to how to go about it. I’ve been sick for almost year to boot and been bedridden most of this time and my husband has been amazing. Any thoughts or suggestions would be great!!

  8. Melissa July 28, 2019 at 10:39 am - Reply

    My husband and I had gotten married quickly after our engagement because I found out I was pregnant & didn’t want to wear a wedding dress. Now 5 years and 2 children later we finally decided to have our wedding in a church & reception at a barn
    I would like to have a bridal shower since I never had one!
    Or should I not name it a “ bridal shower”? I think I deserve one regardless that we have a home together

    • Karie July 28, 2019 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      This type of festivity doesn’t really fall in line with a vow renewal, but if it’s important to you, you should get feedback from the people you would want to participate. You don’t want to be disappointed if the support isn’t what you were hoping for.

  9. Sarah September 24, 2020 at 2:04 am - Reply

    My husband and I are planning a 10 year vow renewal next October. He was in the Army and deployed overseas a week after we got married. Needles to say we’ve never had a honeymoon, is it inappropriate to have a “honeymoon” donation fund!

    • Karie September 24, 2020 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      You can certainly setup a fund since it is a milestone anniversary, and everyone has the option to donate or not based on their preference.

  10. Rebecca Carlson March 7, 2022 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Absolutely 100% DO NOT agree with the rule on no pre celebration events (example bridal shower). Life is short and if friends and family want to host a gathering in the spirit of love, friendship, commitment and so on, then I say go for it! And in some cases, brides/grooms do not have celebrations hosted for them during their original wedding. A decade later might allow for a 2nd try.

  11. Julies Davidson May 28, 2022 at 12:51 am - Reply

    My husband and I will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary and since our first wedding was not really what we had planned and I also have incurable cancer, we would like to renew our vows. Can you tell me what is the proper etiquette for a 35th wedding anniversary Vow renewal. Our kids are all adults and we actually have grandkids so what is some thing they could do in the renewal.

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