A vow renewal ceremony is a special way to declare your continuing commitment to your spouse before family and friends. The ceremony can occur any time after your original wedding.
Couples who eloped or had a "destination" wedding may choose to renew their vows shortly after the original wedding at a gathering for the family and friends who were unable to attend the wedding. Others may choose to renew their vows on a special anniversary, such as the 10th, 15th, or 25th.
Some couples choose to publicly recommit themselves to one another after going through a difficult period in their lives. Since the couple is already married, there are differences between a vow renewal ceremony and a wedding. Following are some of the differences to consider:
Since the ceremony is symbolic, not legal, a minister or judge does not need to perform it, nor do you need to obtain a marriage license. You might choose to ask a father, grandfather, or a special friend to perform the ceremony, thus making it very personal.
Personalize your vows if you have been married for a number of years. You might mention occurrences during past years and hopes for your future together, giving special meaning to the occasion.
Since the wife is already married, her father should not "give" her in marriage. He may walk her down the aisle, however, then place her hand in her husband's.
Because the wife is not a bride and the husband is not a groom, there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen in a vow renewal ceremony. Instead, if the couple wants to have attendants, they might ask their children, parents, or friends that have had a major impact on their lives to stand with them. You might also ask your original wedding attendants to again stand with you.
The length of time since the original wedding will dictate what the wife wears. It is not appropriate for a married woman to wear a blusher (a veil over her face), but she may wear a white dress. If she was recently married, she might wear her gown and veil again. However, if she has been married for several years, a wedding gown and veil would no longer be appropriate. Instead, a formal gown might be worn, or a dress, or even slacks if the ceremony is casual.
Since rings were exchanged at the original wedding, the exchange of rings is not included in a vow renewal ceremony unless the wife will receive a new ring or an anniversary ring.
Couples should not register for gifts or have a bridal shower even if they were recently married. Most guests will not bring gifts unless the vow renewal occurs immediately after the original marriage or on a "milestone" anniversary, such as the 25th or 50th.
If you have children, you may want to include them in the ceremony in some capacity.
Don't use a vow renewal as an occasion to live out your fantasies of the dream wedding you didn't have. Instead, keep it simple and dignified and related to the length of time that you have been married.
Do display items from the original wedding, if possible. If you were recently married, you might show the wedding video and photos. Those who have been married for several years might display their wedding photos, play the original wedding music, or have a baker re-create the original wedding cake.
A vow renewal ceremony is a wonderful way to reaffirm your commitment and love for your spouse before family and friends. The ceremony can strengthen your relationship as you create new memories together.