6 Common Vow Renewal Guest Etiquette Questions, Answered

A quick guide on what to do for your vow renewal guests as a host

While you and your partner have undoubtedly hosted many get-togethers over the years, the guest etiquette for a vow renewal is a bit different than other celebrations. While ensuring your guests’ comfort and enjoyment is a top priority, you have to navigate the best ways to telling them what to wear and how you’d like them to behave as well. Here are answers to some of the top questions couples ask.

We have a destination vow renewal planned and want to ensure as many guests can attend as possible. Are there ways we make it more affordable for them?

Selecting a date during the off-season is the first way you can help to ensure travel is affordable for guests. You’ll also want to give guests information on travel and accommodations as soon as possible so they can get the best prices when booking transportation and accommodations. If your vow renewal will be held at an expensive resort or hotel, consider giving guests a list of less expensive hotels nearby. You can also offer to help coordinate room-sharing and carpools to the destination. If guests will need transportation from the airport or between venues, cover the costs if you can.

We’d like to have a formal vow renewal. How can we ensure guests aren’t scared off by a black-tie dress code?

If you’ve been dreaming of having a formal celebration, then don’t let the possibility of guests’ not coming in full formal attire stop you from planning one. Many guests will be happy to get dressed up and take part in your special day. If you’d like to give your guests a little more attire flexibility, consider a “black tie optional” dress code. This will let guests know that they have the option of wearing a dark suit or cocktail dress while still giving them the opportunity of going full out formal. Some of your guests will undoubtedly show up wearing a tuxedo or formal floor-length gown.

We want to keep our vow renewal ceremony intimate. We would like guests to refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony. Is there a way to stop them short of confiscating their phones?

At every celebration today, there’s always at least one person that wants a video to share on social media. You can set up a sign at the entrance to the ceremony area that explains this is an “unplugged” ceremony. The wording should include your request that guests turn off their phones and take no photos or videos. You can also print your request at the bottom of your programs. Finally, ask your officiant to announce your request to your guests before the ceremony begins. There’s no way to control people and their cell phone cameras wholly, but hopefully, your friends and family will honor your wishes.

We don’t drink alcohol, but we know some of our guests do. How should we handle the issue of a bar?

The first decision you really need to make is whether or not you even want to have any alcohol at your vow renewal. It’s perfectly fine to go either way. If you’re going to go alcohol-free, go with a fun option like a lemonade stand, hot chocolate bar, espresso or coffee bar, custom soda station, pressed-juice station, old fashioned soda fountain, or serve mocktails. If you want to give your guests the option of having an alcoholic drink, consider offering a limited selection of wine and beer. Your guests likely already know you don’t drink alcohol, so they most likely won’t be expecting a full bar anyways.

We know our guests have all sorts of dietary restrictions or are on specific diets. How do we accommodate the gluten-free, vegan, keto, and other guests?

You’re not going to be able to accommodate all of the diets in favor today. Guests who are on special diets know they are picky and face these kinds of challenges everywhere they eat. You should, however, try to accommodate those guests with potentially life-threatening allergies, such as guests with gluten and peanut allergies. Work with your catering team to address allergies and provide detailed information on the ingredients of dishes to all guests. If you have a vow renewal website, add a menu section that details the ingredients in dishes for easy access by guests before and during your celebration. For a buffet dinner, you can place menu cards with details like “gluten-free” or “vegan” by each dish for quick reference. If you’re having a seated dinner, offering a vegan option as well as a meat or fish dish will make sure most all of your guests’ dietary needs are met.

We’re vegetarians and would like our menu for dinner and dessert to be vegetarian. Are we being rude if we don’t serve meat to our non-vegetarian guests?

Your vow renewal should reflect who you are as a couple. If you typically don’t serve meat when having guests over for dinner at your home, then chances are most of your guests won’t be expecting it. If you do, however, then you’ll want to offer a meat entrée in addition to the vegetarian menu you have planned. You can also consider serving one of the newer vegetarian “meats” that are nearly impossible to distinguish from the actual meat.