Guide to Planning a Vow Renewal Ceremony

Bride and groom smiling, bride holding flowers
Getty Images/Elyse Lewin

In a time where divorce can seem commonplace, a couple managing to stay together through thick and thin deserves some celebration. If you and your spouse have made it to a significant anniversary, or you just want to have a "do-over" wedding, consider a vow renewal.

Reasons You Might Want a Vow Renewal

  • You want to celebrate your 5-year, 10-year, 25-year, etc. wedding anniversary.
     
  • You only got married legally before, and now want to marry religiously.
     
  • You only got married religiously before, and now want to marry legally.
     
  • Your first wedding had some element of disaster, and you want a do-over.
     
  • You didn't have much money for your first wedding, and you want a more elaborate wedding.
     
  • You got married with only a few people present, and you'd like to say wedding vows in front of lots of family and friends.
     
  • You've had some rocky times in your relationship, and would now like to reaffirm your commitment to one another.
     
  • You simply think it would be romantic.

On the flip side, a bad reason to have a vow renewal ceremony would be because you miss wedding planning and want to throw another party. The focus of any wedding, but especially a vow renewal, should be the promises you are making to each other, and the sacred ritual of marriage, not the party.

How to Renew Your Wedding Vows

The good news is, there are far fewer rules and dos and don'ts about vow renewal than almost any other kind of ritual.

It can be as simple as the two of you alone in a beautiful spot reciting vows you have written, or a fancy affair with hundreds of guests.

First Steps to Party Planning

Just as with any wedding planning, you should begin by figuring out what style of ceremony/reception you'd like, deciding a budget, picking a date and finding a venue.

Some couples who are older will have much more money than when they wed the first time; others whose parents helped the first time will have far less. The good news is that vow renewals are generally cheaper than first weddings, and with fewer rules on what "should" be done, you can really concentrate on the elements that are important to you.

How Elaborate Should a Vow Renewal Be?

The answer to this question lies in your own reason for wanting a vow renewal ceremony. Many people chose to renew their vows because they were so caught up in the planning and the partying of their first wedding, they felt the focus of the day was taken off of the ceremony. Therefore, most vow renewals tend to be intimate celebrations, with only close family and friends present, and a lunch or dinner afterward at a nice restaurant. Conversely, others who didn't have much money for their first wedding have very lavish ceremonies and parties afterward.

The Don'ts of Vow Renewal

Even if you want a big and expensive celebration, there are still a few things you should avoid:

  • Don't have attendants. If you have children, you can give them a special role in the ceremony, but there is no need to designate them as bridesmaids or groomsmen. You may wish to invite your original bridal party and recognize them during the ceremony.
     
  • Don't register for gifts. This is not the time to upgrade the china. Wedding gifts are to help a newly-married couple set up their household together.
     
  • Don't throw bachelor or bachelorette parties. This is an obvious one -- you aren't bachelors or bachelorettes any longer!

Who Should Lead the Vow Renewal?

Since presumably, you have already done the legal marriage, this ceremony will not be legally binding. Therefore, you can ask a judge or clergy member to officiate, but you can also ask a friend or an adult child to lead the ceremony. For a simple vow renewal, you don't necessarily need an officiant at all.

Vow Renewal Invitation Wording

If you are hosting it yourself:

The honor of your presence
is requested at
the reaffirmation of the wedding vows of
Sharon and Martin Jones
Saturday, May 27, 2017

or

Please join us
as we renew our wedding vows and celebrate 25 years together
Sharon and Martin Jones
Saturday, May 27, 2017

If your children are hosting it:

The children of
Sharon and Martin Jones
Request the honor of your presence
at the vow renewal ceremony of their parents
etc.

Wedding Vows at a Vow Renewal Ceremony

You'll probably want to say something a little different than first-time brides and grooms would. Many people write their own vows, but you might need some inspiration to get you started. ​Find the perfect vow samples for a vow renewal ceremony.