Vow renewals are a heartfelt way to celebrate your love and reaffirm the promises you made to each other on your wedding day. If you are thinking about having a vow renewal ceremony, a joyous celebration of your marriage can be planned easily and confidently with a little guidance from the experts.
What Is a Vow Renewal?
A vow renewal is a celebratory ceremony for a married couple to reaffirm their commitment to each other. They are especially popular on milestone anniversaries (10, 25, or 50 years), however, there is no rule as to when to have one.
“The most important thing to remember is not to get caught up in ‘wedding planning’ again,” says Natasha Anakotta of American Marriage Ministries. “Vow renewal ceremonies should be unique and meaningful while wholly re-committing yourselves to each other.”
Meet the Expert
Natasha Anakotta is the Outreach and Operations Manager of American Marriage Ministries, a non-profit ministry and wedding authority providing free officiant ordinations, advocacy, and support for friends and family wishing to perform legal wedding ceremonies.
Why Do Couples Renew Their Vows?
Vow renewals are held for any number of reasons. Perhaps the couple was only able to have a small wedding or elopement and now wish to have more guests present. Maybe they've overcome an illness, infidelity, or other situation in their marriage and want to re-commit to each other. Other couples may be so crazy in love after the first year of marriage that they simply want to say “I do” all over again. For romantics, planning a surprise vow renewal for your partner can be a way to re-ignite the flame of passion. It may also be a way of saying goodbye. One particularly moving vow renewal was held in hospice for a couple, complete with flowers and cake. Two days later, after promising to see her husband in heaven, the wife passed peacefully.
Does a Vow Renewal Require a License?
From the perspective of each state in the union, a vow renewal is purely ceremonial. You are not required to obtain a marriage license or use a registered church minister or officiant. There are no legal documents involved and it can be held anywhere at any time. This means:
- You’re not limited by marriage laws, religious restrictions, or location. Why not make it a destination vow renewal and take the family? Or go to a romantic spot with just two of you and the officiant, as there is no need for official witnesses.
- You can choose anyone to preside over the ceremony. Since it's a public speaking role with no legal obligations, your officiant can be your local pastor, a longtime friend, your original best man or maid of honor, or a hired wedding professional. Even your children can take part in performing the ceremony.
Friends or family members who perform the vow renewal often wish to present the couple with a commemorative renewal of vows certificate as a keepsake. Because it’s not a legal document, they can be creative and personalized.
How to Plan a Vow Renewal
There is no standard protocol for planning a vow renewal ceremony, so you’ll have lots of freedom to create a meaningful celebration. Here is a general planning guide:
Decide the details.
Whether at an international destination, a restaurant, or a simple gathering at home, your celebration can be as formal or informal as you’d like. While vow renewals are not a sacrament in organized religions, you may still want to hold it in a place of worship. Check with local churches or hire a non-denominational chapel.
Choose a date and send invitations.
Once you select the location and date, send an invitation reflecting the tone and formality of the event. As vow renewals can be anything you want, your invitation will tell the guests what to expect and whether you are providing a meal, cocktail hour, or a champagne toast and cake.
Pick your outfit.
You don’t need a wedding dress, veil or tux—wear what you want. That said if you'd like to get dressed up for the occasion that is perfectly fine too. Whatever you choose, your outfit should reflect the formality of the event.
Meet with your officiant.
The officiant can deliver a welcome that outlines some of your married life experiences. You may have readings and well-wishes from guests before you say your vows. Ideally, read your vows aloud to each other. Follow up with a blessing by the officiant, a big kiss and walk out to “your song” to greet each guest personally.
Vow renewal etiquette has only one cardinal rule: Gifts from your guests are not to be solicited or expected. You can, however, present each other with new or upgraded wedding rings.
Sample Renewal Vows
You've built a life together, so there are no style guides—it’s your story. Consider affirming your original promises and include experiences or lessons learned during your marriage. You might speak to the hurdles you’ve overcome together, the joys in your lives and how you’ll continue to support your beloved as you move through life side by side. To get you started, here are some examples:
“For much of my life, I dreamed about my wedding day. I thought about the person that would be standing beside me and what things would be like after that magical day had come and gone. I wondered if there was such a thing as a perfect, lasting union. Now, __ year(s) later, I know that we have a healthy and loving marriage. True love like this is rare and difficult to find, but I know that I have found it in you. In the time that we have been married, my life has changed because of you.”
“You have challenged me to do things that I didn't think possible. You have a passion for life that inspires me to be the best person I can be. Because of this, I find myself continuing to fall in love with you more deeply each day. You are my best friend, my confidant, and my one true love. Today, I want to thank you for loving me, unconditionally. I'll keep loving and supporting you and stand by your side no matter what challenges we face together. I still look forward to spending the rest of my life with you, and vow to continue loving you now, always, and forever.”
“__ year(s) ago, I took you as my husband/wife – knowing in my heart that you would be my faithful companion, my lifelong partner, and my one true love. As we stand before our loved ones [and God], I pledge to stay by your side as your wife/husband/partner, in sickness, in health, in joy and sorrow, through the good times and the bad. I vow, once more, to love you without reservation, to honor and respect you. I will continue to support you, protect you from harm and to comfort you in times of distress.”
“With my whole heart, I promise to remain devoted to you, to continue to grow with you in mind and spirit, and to practice patience, kindness, and understanding. Once more, I vow to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.”
Reaffirming your wedding vows is important, but it’s not a wedding!
For a number of couples, whose marriages teetered on the brink of divorce and were salvaged by hard work and commitment, they want to celebrate their newly rekindled love with a vow renewal ceremony. But how to go about it? Good question. Here are a few pointers to consider.
First, the entire point here is to celebrate your renewed love and commitment to each other. So if you put it into perspective, any gathering or ceremony that you choose to mark the occasion is fine. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a wedding!
You don’t need to spend lavishly on a white dress or mounds of flowers, and you most certainly don’t need a bachelor or bachelorette party the night before. In fact, no maid of honor, bridesmaids, or ring bearer are required. And definitely no gift registry!
Some people prefer an intimate gathering with close friends and family at home. Others prefer something a little more public, like a gathering in a park and then a group dinner at a favorite restaurant. Whatever you choose is fine , just don’t lose sight of the main focus – celebrating your rekindled love.
If you and your spouse choose to make a little speech, or share some of the journey that has brought you to this place in your relationship, be very careful what you share. Obviously the two of you have put whatever it was behind you and moved forward, so keep the emphasis on that .
After all, this is about your future together , not your past. Your guests don’t need the lurid details of the affair that nearly destroyed your marriage, or the gambling addiction that almost sent you both to bankruptcy court. Simple and positive is the key.
Remember that this is about love, not appearances or opportunities to score gifts.
Because a reaffirmation of vows is not a legal ceremony, you will not need to get a license or sign any paperwork. However, you may wish to create a certificate to mark the occasion, or simply type up the new vows you exchanged and frame them somewhere in your home.
It is possible to hire a photographer for the occasion, but that can be very pricey. Professional wedding photographers in the mid-Michigan area typically charge $200 to $300 an hour. Instead, consider asking a few friends to take some pictures for posterity and save yourself the cash . With today’s digital cameras, you don’t need years of schooling to get great pictures.
And finally, if you have children , it would be a nice gesture to include them. After all, they are a vital and very important part of your family, and a product of your love. Allowing them to play a special role in the proceedings would be a way to make them feel special and included .
If however, reaffirming your wedding vows just isn’t a possibility because saving your marriage is no longer an option , we are here to help. The skilled family law attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have helped hundreds of people through their divorces over the years, and our experience is unparalleled. If you are considering ending your marriage, call 866 766 5245 today.