Etiquette for Vow Renewal Attendants

|||Etiquette for Vow Renewal Attendants

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.

2017-03-05T12:02:26-05:00Your Renewal Party|


  1. Sabrina January 14, 2018 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    I want to do a 10yr vow renewal because I did not have a wedding we got married in court.

  2. Debra February 25, 2018 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the rules on a renewal. We’re planning our 10th one for next yr. When we first got married we only had 5 months to plan everything. This time I’m giving myself plenty of time, I want to have it the way we were suppose to have it 10 yrs ago minus the real wedding part. I wasn’t sure what the bridesmaids were called, but with the help from you I now know.

  3. Nesha Johnson August 19, 2018 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Next year will be me and my husband 25th wedding anniversary and we want to do a formal wedding/reception because we initially got married at City Hall, would that change the scope of things and my expectation?

    • Karie January 13, 2019 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Planning a formal vow renewal for your 25th anniversary is a wonderful idea. It’s the perfect time to celebrate your enduring love and commitment to one another. Even though you’re planning a formal event, it would not change the scope of things nor your expectations, as you would be renewing your vows versus getting married. When hosting a vow renewal in your own honor, it’s very much like throwing your own anniversary party. You should expect to pick up all of the expenses for your celebration and do all of your own planning. Friends and family members may wish to offer their support for your celebration, but this should come as a delightful surprise, not something that should be expected.

      Happy planning and congratulations!

  4. Karen October 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the ideas and suggestions… Husband and I are renewing our vows after 20 years of being married!

  5. Alexandra November 15, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Thank goodness, I found this page! I originally wanted to do a 5 year anniversary (married at 19 years of age) but husband deployed July of this year. Our anniversary was 11/4, so I wanted to plan a renewal back in FL instead of DE since my husband and I are both from Florida. We wanted to invite a few of our friends from DE down to FL. I wanted to have some elements of the traditional wedding like my dad walk me down and my best girls by my side. I want this to be a beach wedding, but I am not sure if I should or shouldn’t have a reception. Size wise its going to be like 35-40 people or so. I wanted to get gifts for my girls and gifts for the my husband’s guy that we have selected total of 6 each. I just don’t know what to do and I feel like overwhelmed haha and this is happening 11/2/2019 for our 6 year. Any advice please?

    • Karie January 13, 2019 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      When renewing your vows, the most important thing is to always keep in mind why you are doing this – to celebrate your love and commitment. Decision making tends to be all the easier when keeping the “why” in mind.

      Gifts for your attendants are a nice gesture of thanks for their participation in your celebration.

      You can absolutely have a reception after the ceremony to celebrate with your friends and family. Keep in mind, a vow renewal is not a wedding, so don’t feel as if you should be following the conventions for a typical reception. You can have a reception that is as formal or informal as you like – just keep the overall style similar to your ceremony. If your girls will be wearing sundresses with bare feet, it would be entirely appropriate to have a casual reception with a beach bonfire, seafood boil, and beer. If they’ll be dressed in formal gowns, then you’ll want to have your reception at a more formal location with linens, champagne, a buffet or plated dinner, and dancing.

  6. Melody Moseley January 13, 2019 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I’m having a vow renewal
    Am I still called a bride? I am having tote bags made for me and my One attendant ( my daughter)
    Should mine say Bride? Or Re-Bride ?

    • Karie January 13, 2019 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Since a bride is a woman who is about to be married or was very recently married, you would want to have your tote bag personalization say “Mrs.” or “Wife” instead. Your daughter’s tote should say “attendant” or “renewal party” on it. The lovely thing is that your personal tote bag will be appropriate for use for years to come!

  7. Melinda Dorn May 6, 2019 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    So having a big wedding dress and all the bells and whistles for a 10 year is not something we should do?

    • Karie July 17, 2019 at 8:16 am - Reply

      You can wear whatever you like and have whatever kind of celebration you like for your vow renewal. There are no hard rules – just suggestions you skip the showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and don’t register for gifts unless it’s a milestone anniversary. A vow renewal is a celebration of your love and commitment to one another – only you really know what’s perfect for that occasion! There will always be some people who don’t agree with your choices, but that’s true any day of the year. Don’t let them distract you from celebrating your marriage however you like.

      Happy planning!

  8. Rebecca May 16, 2019 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    My husband a couple months asked me to remarry him. Such a sweet moment. Now we are actually looking at having a Renewal of Marriage Ceremony.
    I want everything to be perfect because when we got actually married it was a quick put together. Family/pastor, Aunt and Uncle and his step dad and cousin that’s all. My parents gave me away via phone due to health issues, along side his step dad walked me down the isle. This was almost 9 years ago. I want to wait for our 10 year but either side of our family is getting any younger.
    I want him to have the best, because of his newly found Reunification with his whole family in Oregon. Could I still use the 10 yr color scheme even though it would he our 9 yrs married but we are 12 1/2 together like husband and wife?

    • Karie July 17, 2019 at 8:12 am - Reply

      Such a sweet moment indeed! You can use any color scheme you like for your vow renewal, regardless of how many years you’ve been married. This is a celebration of your love and commitment to one another, not simply an anniversary party. Enjoy the kind of celebration of your marriage that you dream of!

      Best of luck in your planning!

      Founder and Editor

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