Etiquette for Your Vow Renewal Attendants


What you need to know when deciding if you want to have attendants for your vow renewal

We get a lot of questions from visitors about etiquette for vow renewal attendants and having a vow renewal party, so we thought we’d put our answers all together in a single article for you. There’s a lot of confusion about what is and isn’t appropriate. So let’s get down to the essentials.

Can you have attendants for your vow renewal? Yes! It’s natural to want to have those closest to you standing by your side as you renew your vows. Traditionally, vow renewal attendants are the same people who stood up with you at your wedding. It’s also a popular option to ask special people in your lives to stand with you as you renew your vows. Typically, these are children, close friends, or relatives that have played a special role in supporting the two of you during your marriage. You and your attendants make up the vow renewal party.

What can I expect my attendants to do? It’s important to keep in mind that a vow renewal isn’t a wedding, so your attendants should not be expected to, nor are they obligated to, perform any of the traditional duties associated with being a matron of honor, bridesmaid, best man, or groomsman. Their only duty is to be present to support you on the day of your vow renewal.

Basically, it goes like this. You’re husband and wife, not bride and groom. You have attendants, not bridesmaids and groomsmen. Let’s take a look at the definitions of these roles:

  • Bride definition, a newly married woman or a woman about to be married.
  • Bridegroom definition, a man on his wedding day or just before and after the event.
  • Bridesmaid definition, a girl or woman who accompanies a bride on her wedding day.
  • Groomsman definition, a male friend officially attending the bridegroom at a wedding.
  • Best man definition, a male friend or relative chosen by a bridegroom to assist him at his wedding.
  • Matron of honor definition, a married woman attending the bride at a wedding.
  • Maid of honor definition, an unmarried woman acting as principal bridesmaid at a wedding.

These definitions pretty much sum up the fact that you definitely have attendants and none of the above!

So let’s talk about what you should expect regarding attendants.

Your vow renewal is an optional celebration, and any invitation to friends or relatives to stand up with you should be regarded as such, an invitation. It’s a beautiful way to honor and thank them for all of the support they have given you in your marriage, so they should be treated accordingly. There’s no room for wife-zilla or husband-zilla in a vow renewal!

It is reasonable to expect your attendants to wear what you request, arrive on time for the ceremony and pictures, attend the reception, and generally be supportive of the two of you on your special day. They should not, however, be expected to host or attend pre-vow renewal parties, help with preparations (addressing invites, making flower bouquets or arrangements, putting together favors, etc.), or coordinate other attendants, guests, or vendors. As a married couple, you should expect to manage all of these types of activities yourself or employ the services of a party planner to assist you.

The key thing here is about expectations. It’s important to keep in perspective the reason you are having this vow renewal and what you want to come out of it. You may find that close friends or relatives that you’ve asked to be attendants want to help out with these kinds of activities, but you shouldn’t expect them to or hold it against them if they don’t. As adults, we all have countless obligations and aren’t always available to help others out. Enjoy your planning and all the control you have over your special day and be gracious and grateful for any assistance your attendants offer.

Who pays for what? Given that the celebration is being held by the two of you, a married couple, you should expect to pay for your attendants’ attire if something special is required of them. You should also pay for any travel expenses, including airfare and accommodations, for attendants that would have to travel to attend. It’s not appropriate to ask your attendants to foot the bill for this type of celebration. If you can’t afford to cover their expenses, you should forego having attendants.

Still want to have attendants? Ask them! Be sure to share our article on Duties for Vow Renewal Attendants with them, so they know what to expect before answering.