Vow Renewals – Everything You Need to Know

|||Vow Renewals – Everything You Need to Know

Vow Renewal Rules

What, Why, Where, When, Who, How. Rules?
Just a Couple Please!

A vow renewal is your opportunity to reaffirm your love for each other and celebrate in whatever fashion you desire. Traditional wedding etiquette doesn’t apply – this is a vow renewal. The only rules you are concerned with are simply about good manners. You can commemorate this special occasion any time and any place you like. It can be as elaborate as a grand wedding or as simple as a backyard party. Just make sure to send out invitations so your guests can mark their calendars and know that this is a special occasion for you! Now’s the time to celebrate the life you’ve built together!

Why Have a Vow Renewal?

Couples renew their vows for many reasons:

  • They got legally married, but missed out on the first wedding. The reasons are many -limited time or money, military leave, elopement, or being married abroad. Later, when circumstances have changed they may want to do something a bit more formal or celebratory, vow renewals are the way to go. The reaffirmation of vows ceremony can be big and extravagant as the couple want or can afford.
  • They had a grand wedding largely dictated by family, but wanted something intimate. Later, when things have settled down and time has passed they may want to do something intimate the way they envisioned. The renewal of vows ceremony can be intimate and private as the couple desire.
  • They have just gone through a rough spot in their relationship. Sometimes couples have such great differences that it seems as if a split is inevitable, yet they somehow pull through and work it all out. These times deserve celebrating, which is why many couples opt to renew their vows after a difficult period. These celebrations tend to be more intimate so as to allow the two of them to spend time together and regroup. However, when the rough spot was played out “in public” a larger event may be planned so as to also make the news of their success public.
  • They have hit a relationship milestone. Perhaps the birth of their first or last child or a fifth, tenth, twentieth, or even fiftieth anniversary. These big anniversaries are a natural time to celebrate their lasting love. Do it up the way you want! Invite everyone, have a blast, or put together everything that goes along with a wedding. Remember, have fun and say “I do” all over again!

Getting Started

First off, sit down with your spouse and discuss what your must-have elements are. Perhaps it’s the song you danced to at your wedding or a special reading that has personal significance. Also, think about the elements that you absolutely don’t want! This is your chance to do it how the two of you want.

When?

There are no rules about when to renew your vows. From the year to the date, it’s all up to you. You may elect to renew your vows every year on your anniversary with just the two of you at home or away on a special vacation. You might want to renew you vows every five years with an officiant to preside. Or [perhaps you prefer to renew your vows on big occasions, such as a 10th or 25th anniversary, a birthday, or another special time.

Where?

There are no rules about where to renew your vows. From the backyard to somewhere exotic, it’s all up to you. You might reflect on the style of your wedding and what you feel like doing now. The location may mimic the first time around or be the complete opposite. It also has something to do with what size of a party you want to throw. How many people will be involved? Two or two hundred? Popular favorites for an informal little vow renewal celebration include the backyard, an exotic island, or a local park. If you’re planning a big celebration, you may want to look at a large hotel, country club, golf course, big reception sit, or destination such as Vegas or Hawaii.

Who hosts a vow renewal?

Vow renewals are generally hosted by the couple, with the exception of when children are throwing the vow renewal in celebration of a 25th or 50th anniversary. Parents of the couple rarely host vow renewals unless there was a reason that prevented them from having a traditional wedding with the parents involved the first time around and it is being held shortly after the actual legal marriage.

How does the ceremony work?

You are already married, so there are no legalities! You don’t have to hire an officiant if you don’t want to. You don’t have to walk down the aisle and no one has to give away anyone. If you want it to be similar to a wedding, it can be. If you have something creative in mind, go with it!

The ceremony itself can take place in a house of worship or any location that you like. During the ceremony you can exchange the vows you originally said or make up new ones, include unity candle or other joining ceremonies, exchange new rings or gifts, or get a new engraving on the old rings, include readings or songs, and so on. It’s all up to you!

Who should preside over the ceremony?

Since the ceremony has no legalities you can select whomever you’re most comfortable with to preside over the ceremony. If you have a friend or family member that you would like to officiate, ask that person if they would do you the honor. You can also simply hire an officiant the same way you would with a wedding. You can also ask your religious leader to perform the ceremony. Remember: This day is all about the two of you, so pick someone that fits in with your personality as a couple.

What about attire and decorations?

As with the other aspects of the vow renewal, it is entirely up to you. If you’ve decided on a formal event, the attire should be too. If you’ve opted for casual, likewise, dress appropriately. Either way, make sure your guests know what to expect. The wife can wear a big, white wedding gown if she wishes. It’s also common for her to wear a simpler gown in a color, or something less formal depending on what she wore before. The wife can even wear what she wore the first time! For example, if you’re exchanging vows in a park, go for a light, airy gown in a bright shade. When it comes to the guy’s style, it’s all about matching your wife. Complement her sundress with a pair of crisp khakis and a button-down, or balance out her evening gown with a classic tux.

The decorations are usually simpler for vow renewals unless of course, you want to go all out. In that case, enjoy and have the time of your life!

Do we need new rings for a vow renewal?

This is an excellent opportunity to upgrade your rings or have them engraved with a special new message. If you opt to have your current rings engraved, you can re-exchange them after reciting your vows. You might consider purchasing new rings to wear along with or in place of your original weddings bands as a visual reminder of your continuing love and commitment, some couples opt to stick with their original rings and keep them on the entire time and simply hold hands.

Who should/can we invite?

Vow renewal ceremonies tend to be on the smaller side (50 people or less), but it’s really up to you. If you had a small wedding the first time around, you might want to throw a big party. If an intimate affair is more your style, invite your closest family and friends to a private ceremony.

What kind of invitations do we need?

None if it’s just the two of you! If you’re inviting guests, then how formal the invitations should be all depends on how formal an affair the vow renewal will be. For a formal event, your vow renewal invitations should be similar to traditional formal wedding invitations. If you’re planning a casual party in your backyard, a simple invitation would be appropriate. Emailing your invites in not acceptable, unless that is the ONLY way to get them to your guests!

Can we have attendants?

While there’s no rule saying you can’t have attendants, most vow renewals tend to be more about the couple. Make your decision about having attendants based on how elaborate your celebration is going to be. If you’re going all out and having all the trimmings of a classic wedding, then it would be absolutely appropriate to have attendants if you want them. Just don’t go overboard with, say, a dozen attendants! You might also consider asking your children to participate in key tasks, like holding the rings or walking you down the aisle.

Are honeymoons allowed?

Absolutely! Whether you didn’t have a first honeymoon or took a big trip, consider it a fabulous way to wrap up your celebration. Some couples opt to make the renewal of vows a honeymoon in itself by planning a destination vow renewal. Many all-inclusive resorts and hotels offer vow renewal packages. Turn over some of the stress to a professional! You can even invite friends and family to join you if you like.

What about photographers and should there be music?

Photographs are a must if you are inviting guests. Balance the decision on whether you need to hire a professional photographer versus having friends and family capture the moments with how formal of an event you are having. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but you definitely want to capture the memories.

If you want to dance, then you need music. Whether you program a playlist into your iPod or hire a pro is all up to you.

Gifts and parties?

Basically no on both.

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.

Gift registries are only allowable if the vow renewals are taking place nearly immediately after the original proclamation of vows. If you have been married more than a few months, gift registries are out of the question. Make sure that you let guests know gifts are not expected (just not on the invites).

2017-04-13T14:41:09+00:00Traditions & Etiquette|

38 Comments

  1. Amalia Romary August 4, 2015 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Love this site very informative! Thanx could”nt do it with you. Yours Truly Amalia Romary

  2. Marilyn October 13, 2015 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Although true it is not a legal ceremony, some states require that whoever ‘officiates’ or presides over the ceremony be provided with proof of previous marriage to each other.

    • Karie November 2, 2015 at 8:27 am - Reply

      You’re absolutely correct and this tends to be based on historical laws. Interestingly, it’s the same reason they’ve historically skipped parts of a wedding ceremony in the movies or TV shows. In some places, the consideration and intent portion of the ceremony is still legally binding. One wouldn’t want people getting married who didn’t intend to or for someone to unknowingly marry a couple in these states. A quick check with your local marriage licence registrar will answer any questions you may have about local rules and regulations.

  3. Joyce June 8, 2016 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Good information but I was hoping to see some writings of vow renewals ! I would like to say something but am looking for the perfect words.

  4. Martha Blocker June 9, 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Just checking again. My friends renewal their vows for 25th. So she can gave a bridesmaid (Matron of honor) and groomsmen like (Brother) ?? The groom can”t afford a tux or suit so what can he wear since she is wearing long plain white dress? I am hosting the reception for 30 people and wondering can i have appetizers with cake and champagne or other info help.Thank You.

  5. Martha Blocker June 9, 2016 at 11:39 am - Reply

    If she has a bridesmaid or matron of honor and groomsmen how do they walk down the isle? Some ideas?Help.

  6. Billy June 18, 2016 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    I Have a question…..
    I would like to renew my wife and I’s wedding vows. I am thinking that I want it to be a surprise.

    Do u think this is a good idea?

    Please let me know what you think…

    • Karie June 19, 2016 at 8:24 am - Reply

      If your wife loves surprises, nothing could be more romantic. A friend of mine surprised his wife with a vow renewal aboard a cruise while on vacation and another planned a little private ceremony while out on an evening boat excursion with friends. Both of their wives were absolutely delighted! Whether you’re thinking of doing something at home or while on vacation, just be sure she is dressed for the occasion. Need ideas? Join in the conversation on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/idostill/

  7. Jac July 21, 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    My friend has been married for 12 years and has a beautiful home, 3 kids, and a wealthy family that has offered to fit the bill for a wedding do over with her second husband since it was a small ceremony (she had a big wedding with her first which they also paid for). She has asked me and several of our friends to be bridesmaids which will include each of us purchasing a specific dress that she has chosen. She is also purchasing a very expensive wedding dress. We have suggested colors that all of us can wear again or styles that can be worn to another formal event but she has shot down any suggestions and is adamant on light purple long gowns. Her birthday is a few months before the planned ceremony and she has chosen a bachelorette themed birthday and has already enlisted us to go dress shopping and take an extra day off work before the wedding to make bouquets. Is it appropriate to put these expectations (dress, party, tasks) on a bridal party considering they are already married? If there is an etiquette how can I express it with out raining on her parade?

    • Karie July 22, 2016 at 10:48 am - Reply

      Great questions! Thanks so much for taking the time to ask them. Many couples and would be attendants have asked similar questions. We’ve put together a couple articles on the topic of attendants and etiquette to give you answers to the most popular questions and pushed up their publication date to get you the answers you need today. The only thing they don’t cover is the bachelorette- themed birthday. Bachelor and bachelorette parties are not appropriate for vow renewals as they are a tradition focused on celebrating your last night as a single person. As a married couple, they’re long past those days. If she opts for such a theme for a birthday, that’s really her choice, but like any birthday celebration, you are under no obligation to participate. She may just be caught up in all the planning and hasn’t taken a moment to stop and think these things all the way through.

      The big wedding is one of those moments we dream of as little girls, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. While a vow renewal isn’t a do-over wedding, having a vow renewal with all of the glitz and glam they missed out on can help bring some closure to couples whose big day wasn’t all they hoped. One thing every couple should keep in mind is that they’re not going to get that perfect day if their guests find their plans rather off-putting or ridiculous. Everyone knows they’re married, so it’s important that the focus of their vow renewal be on just that – renewing their vows and commitment to one another and celebrating their love for one another. If their plans are more about the party than their love, it’s sure to be a disaster.

      Here are the links to the attendant articles and another you may find helpful to share with her:

      Best of luck! Please let us know if you have any other questions.
      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  8. donna golden July 23, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I am looking for unity candle ceremonies for our 50th wediding anniversary vow renewal that incorporates the children and grandchildren

  9. Muriel July 28, 2016 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Our 25th wedding anniversary is in a few months. We are planning a trip to Cancun to renew our vows on the beach. It will just be the two of us, but I would like to wear a simple yet elegant wedding dress. I will not have a train or a veil. The dress is what I am having a hard time with. Most sites state a wedding dress for a vow renewal is appropriate, but a few sites say NO wedding dress or a dress that can be mistaken for a wedding dress. Is there proper etiquette on the dress or is this just outdated information and just ones opinion? Thank you!

  10. Misty A Tanner September 6, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Were working on our vow renewal, but my question is . flowers.. I’m making bouquet an boot an ears. But do I make them for our parents??

    • Karie September 7, 2016 at 7:41 am - Reply

      Congratulations on your upcoming vow renewal! The wearing of a boutonniere/buttonhole by men is a tradition going back to the 1700’s. They were work to ward off disease, evil spirits, and bad smells. Over the years, they’ve come in and out of vogue for everyday wear as an adornment but remain a favorite accessory for formal occasions. Today, the boutonniere is worn for purely visual reasons, so you can present them to any gentleman in your vow renewal party that you like, including fathers. The same basic history and guidelines apply to the corsages worn by women. Both are also a wonderful way to recognize and call attention to the special people in your life, which is why many couples opt to give them to parents and grandparents to wear at their celebration.

      You can opt only to have a boutonniere for your husband and a bouquet yourself and be in perfectly fine form. Or you can choose to make boutonnieres and corsages for your parents or other members of your vow renewal party; just be sure to keep everything in balance. The lovely little adornments will show up in your photos, often as a beautiful pop of color.

      Best wishes for your celebration!
      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  11. Teresa Arriola September 10, 2016 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    We’re renewing our wedding of 30 years in church’ and reception about 100 family and friends. I like to buy coursages for Daughters in ceremory{4) and our sisters(6)boutinaire s for husband, best man and Brothers(2)is this to much..

    • Karie September 11, 2016 at 8:02 am - Reply

      Congratulations on reaching such a wonderful milestone anniversary! A vow renewal is such a wonderful way to celebrate your marriage that has clearly stood the test of time. Who you get flowers for is entirely up to you and your preferences. There’s really no such thing as too many flowers! They show up as lovely accents in your photos and help guest recognize everyone in your vow renewal party. If you want them, get them.

      If your female attendants for your ceremony won’t be carrying bouquets, then getting a corsage for them is perfect. Most people opt for one or the other. Getting boutonnieres for all of your male attendants and husband is also perfect. As for treating anyone else in your family to a boutonniere or corsage, while not necessary, it is a sweet way to recognize them and the role they play in your life. It’s your day, and you need to go with what feels right to you and the overall celebration. When you do that, everything will come together as you envision and be a day to remember forever!

      Again, congratulations on reaching this wonderful milestone anniversary and best wishes for your vow renewal!
      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  12. Mel September 11, 2016 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Hi there I’m renewing my vows and iv booked a big hotel and wanting a big wedding one that I dream of. When I first got married it never went to plan 6 weeks before my wedding the hotel we booked went bankrupt and was left to get married in register office and a party at the pub. It was still a lovely day but not what I always dreamed of. So when my husband ask me to renew our vows the excitement of been able to plan my dream wedding hit. But I have been reading up about vow renewal and it says it is silly to have bridesmaid and a wedding dress. Is this the case is it silly? I’m kinda confuse in what to do now, now I’m debate whether I have do the right thing by booking a big hotel. Confused??

    • Karie September 12, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

      There’s absolutely nothing silly about wanting to have the vow renewal of your dreams. The great news is that other information you ran across on the web that’s filled with negativity about wearing a fantastic dress and having attendants is simply outdated. From celebrities to the couple next door, it’s common to see women opting to wear a white or ivory dress from the bridal shop for their vow renewal, surrounding themselves with attendants made up of friends and family, and having a large guest list. It’s just as common to see a couple opt to have an intimate ceremony with just the two of them dressed more casually on the beach. You see, there’s no one right way to renew your vows. The rules are minimal. The key ingredient is keeping the reason for the event in mind as you do your planning – renewing your vows – your commitment to one another.

      So while a vow renewal isn’t a wedding, that doesn’t mean you can have a vow renewal ceremony and reception with many of the same elements. There are a few things you need to know when planning your celebration and we’ve covered them in the following articles:

      Vow Renewal DO’s and DON’Ts
      Wedding Vow Renewals – Not Just for Silver and Gold Anniversaries
      Throw an Anniversary Party to Remember with a Vow Renewal

      Etiquette for Vow Renewal Attendants
      Duties for Vow Renewal Attendants

      5 Things You Must Know Before You Go Vow Renewal Dress Shopping

      Have more questions? Reach out to us anytime! We’re here to be your modern resource for everything vow renewal.

      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  13. Callie June 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Hi, Karie! When my husband and I got married, I was astraigned from my dad, so my mom walked me down the isle. We would like to do a vow renewal, now that my dad is back in my life to include those special moments we missed. Everything I’ve read has made it seem inappropriate, and I’d like to surprise him with the suggestion on father’s day. Is that acceptable?

    • Karie June 16, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

      Please keep in mind, first and foremost a vow renewal should be about you and your husband and your desire to reaffirm your vows to one another. It’s important to your marriage that your love for one another is the focus of the celebration. Coming from a place of love and authenticity, the memories you create will truly be as special as you hope. That said, you can absolutely have your father walk you down the aisle at a vow renewal. There’s nothing inappropriate about it today. However, the officiant shouldn’t ask the question “who gives this woman…” or anything similar. An alternative would be to have the officiant say something like “who supports this couple as they renew their vows today” or “who supports this couple in their continued commitment to each other” and both your mother and father and any children you have would say “we do.”

      You can also celebrate the occasion with the classic father-daughter dance that he missed the first time around if you’ll be having a reception. (Be sure to have a photographer capture these special moments!)

      So plan your big father’s day surprise and let go of the outdated notions about what is and isn’t appropriate for a vow renewal go. We’re not living in the 1950’s!

      Best of luck on your vow renewal!
      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  14. Callie June 16, 2017 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Wonderful suggestions! Thanks so much!!!

  15. Betty June 25, 2017 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Should what she is wearing be a surprise until she walks down the aisle again?!

    • Karie June 28, 2017 at 7:30 am - Reply

      What a great question! Whether to keep attire a secret until the ceremony or not is totally up to the individual. Each couple and celebration is different and so what they choose to do in the situation is totally up to them. There’s something wonderfully romantic about keeping it a secret. Do what feels right in the situation and you can’t go wrong!

  16. Linda July 27, 2017 at 3:02 am - Reply

    I just want a simple vow exchange , I’d like to have friends and some family . But simplicity is the key. NO big reception . Just word of our love with family and few friends who were with us in the beginning .
    Is that ok . Maybe some champagne and hordorves after words , we will be in the mountains .Is that appropriate, it’s really what We want . WE did full catholic ceremony..Now this moment is for us .

    • Karie July 27, 2017 at 7:55 am - Reply

      A simple vow exchange is perfect and completely appropriate! You see the only requirement for a vow renewal is a couple who wants to express their love to one another – everything else is extra. What you wear, who you invite, how you decorate (if at all), and what you eat and drink afterward is really completely up to you. There are no real hard rules. What makes for a perfect vow renewal is a deeply personal choice for every couple. As you said, this is your moment. Your ideas are intimate, supportive, and comfortable – I can’t think of anything more perfect. Champagne and hor d’oeuvres is a wonderful way to celebrate.

      Congratulations and best wishes for a wonderful celebration!
      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  17. Janice December 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    Hi there, I have been asked to do the honours at a friend’s ceremony – and while I am used to public speaking I have never done anything like this before! And while honoured…am a bit petrified too…reading this site has given me comfort that you don’t have to be an official celebrant but I want to make sure I do a great job for them! A bit worried about what some of my friends will think too….me being asked..and perhaps not living up to the expectations….and wondering if I should ask my friend if she is 100 percent certain she wants me…..so any advice??

    • Karie December 13, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

      The secret to being a great officiant is practice! Truly, anyone can be an officiant for a vow renewal, it doesn’t require any special credentials. You’re already ahead of most officiants as you know the couple personally and bring your natural warmth and love for them to the celebration. To make sure everything comes off perfect, get the ceremony script that they want to use as soon as possible and practice it over and over until it feels natural to you. Start by printing it out using a fairly large font size and break the pages up into natural sections. Put them into a nice looking binder with sheet protectors to make it easy to read. You’ll find lots of ceremony scripts and enhancements on the site to inspire you if they don’t have a ceremony script already.

      You can do this! If you have more questions, please let us know.
      Karie
      Founder and Editor

  18. shanel winsett January 11, 2018 at 2:37 am - Reply

    We are doing our 15th anniversary vow renewal
    I am having a small “bridal” party 3 on each side.
    I want to infuse our original wedding PARTY any suggestions?

    SECOND question
    What do our parents wear?

    Last question
    We did not have a honeymoon 15 years ago do we even mention that we are finally having one?

    • Karie July 31, 2018 at 11:24 am - Reply

      You can find great ideas for your vow renewal party at https://www.idostill.com/planning/renewal-party/

      Your parents can coordinate attire colors with your attendants if they like or they can wear whatever they like. There is no hard rule of etiquette about this.

      Your friends and family might be interested to know about your plans to take a trip to celebrate your vow renewal! Feel free to share your excitement with them.

      Happy planning!

  19. Peg January 19, 2018 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Hi, we never had a “wedding” when we got married and now we want the “wedding”. Have gotten a Chapel and venue and the whole 9 yards, our best friends are standing up with us, I just don’t know if I should be ” given away”??????

  20. Deborah Clark May 15, 2018 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Hi, I met my husband 27 yes ago and had a short relationship, we both moved on and married, both happily, 4 years ago we met again and my husband to be had gone through a divorce and I had been widowed, anyway after a year of meeting again we married and I have to say its been amazing, we’ve only been married just over 3 yrs and if he is a had his way we would renew our vows every year… Just to show how much we love each other, I’m coming up 50 next year and was thinking that I would love to renew our vows then, my husband wants a re run of our wedding… And I have to say I would love to do this but not sure if it’s too soon to have a vow renewal….. Nothing wrong with our marriage by the way, just glad we found each other again…. Any thoughts would be appreciated. X

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