For many couples, vow renewal ceremonies are very personal, a way for the couple to express to each other that they are still so in love that they would marry each other all over again or that their love has deepened because of an event that they recently came through and in the process have realized a deeper appreciation for one another.
And what better way to express that love and appreciation than repeat and reaffirm your marriage vows. Maybe you’ve never had a real honeymoon or the honeymoon of your dreams and your children have given you the anniversary gift of a lifetime, like a special cruise or a trip to Vegas, or any number of romantic get-aways for two. You can use your special getaway as a second honeymoon to renew your vows and maybe even exchange new rings as anniversary gifts to each other.
Some other romantic ideas for vow renewal ceremonies could include renting a secluded cabin or a room in at a quaint bed and breakfast and asking a local minister, mayor or district justice to officiate your intimate event.
Or you may want to have a small gathering at your home with your children and other family and renew your vows with your children standing with you to bless your continued union.
But what if this just described your wedding day?
What if you had to put off having your fairytale wedding due to any number of reasons – military deployment where you had a quick uneventful gig with the chaplain in a very unromantic office setting; or financial or even health reasons that kept you from having the wedding ceremony you always dreamed about.
Then you can create your vow renewal ceremony to be the wedding you never had!
Recreate Your Dream Wedding for your Vow Renewal Ceremony
There are some differences of opinion about what a “wedding” is. Some people believe that when you said ‘I Do,’ no matter how or where you did it or who was or wasn’t there to share it, that was your wedding day and there are no do-overs, second chances to get it right.
But in reality, the dictionary definition of “wedding” is: (1) a marriage ceremony usually with its accompanying festivities; (2) an act, process, or instance of joining in close association; (3) a wedding anniversary or its celebration.
So in fact, while there are some etiquette considerations, vow renewal ceremonies or renewing your vows in an anniversary ceremony celebration, by definition certainly are weddings, and you certainly can celebrate it as a wedding if that’s what you want to do.
As a rule and in keeping with proper etiquette, bridal showers and bachelor parties are reserved for the first-time newlyweds much the same as gift registries. Bridal showers or “hen parties,” are parties to celebrate the last night of the bride-to-be as a single woman and congratulate her on her upcoming wedding. The gifts at a bridal shower can range from intimate apparel that she’ll be wearing for her new husband to funny gifts like household cleaning items, to remind her that she’s going to be moving out of her parents’ house and will now have her own place to clean.
So no, you should not expect and shouldn’t even ask for a bridal shower before your vow renewal wedding ceremony. It’s actually rather tacky to even think of it.
The exception to the rule, again, quick, uneventful civil ceremonies prior to a military deployment, where you weren’t able to be given a bridal shower and you’re planning your real “wedding” for when your spouse comes home.
Invitations for Vow Renewals
Invitations for vow renewal ceremonies will depend on the formality of the celebration. For smaller, more intimate events, you can simply send an email to your friends and relatives or even book the event on Facebook.
For more formal vow renewal ceremonies, simply follow the same rules for any other wedding invitations, but in this case, you or possibly your children are hosting the event, not your parents. And instead of using words like “marriage” or “join together,” you can substitute phrases like “renew our vows” or “reaffirm our commitment.”
Some sample wordings are…
The honor of your presence
is requested at
the reaffirmation of the wedding vows of…
Please join us
as we renew our wedding vows
and celebrate (5, 10, 25…) years together…
The children of
Request the honor of your presence…
Wedding Party Attendants-Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, etc.
One school of thought is that if you had a big wedding when you got married then you should not include your attendants again or have attendants at all. You and your spouse should walk down the aisle together or the “bride” should enter unescorted. Or if you have children, they can escort you down the aisle.
There are some exceptions to this, however, as there are usually exceptions to any “rule.” What if you want to recreate your original wedding because you had so much fun and you’re still the fun-loving, happy couple that you were when you got married? Well, if your original attendants agree to it, do it again. You may not want to refer to them as the Maid or Matron of Honor and Best Man. You may simply refer to anyone in the wedding party as “attendants.”
And instead of the elaborate bridesmaids gowns that they wore the first time, you may want them to wear something a little more informal – and affordable. And instead of tuxedos, your men can wear nice matching suits.
And if you never had the big formal affair for your wedding, for instance if you said your vows in a quick civil ceremony before a military deployment, then make your vow renewal ceremony the big affair that you weren’t able to have the first time, complete with all the bells and whistles.
What about gift registries?
Vow renewal ceremonies are, for the most part, anniversary celebrations and since you are already married, you really should not be registering with gift registries. Wedding gift registries are really so your guests know what to give the newlyweds who are starting out on their own. Once you’re already married and on your own, you should not be asking for any more gifts from your family and friends.
But what if you had a quick and very uneventful civil ceremony prior to a military deployment? It was just you, your fiance and the chaplain and maybe a clerk or a superior officer as a witness. No festivities. You said ‘I Do’ and your new spouse went running for the bus or plane and was shipped out of the country.
Maybe you’re still living with your parents while your spouse is deployed or you’re living on the base alone and you’re not actually going to be starting your lives together as husband and wife until he returns.
This is a great example of an exception to every rule of vow renewal ceremonies. In this scenario, you really did not have anything resembling a Wedding. Even your parents weren’t there to congratulate you. You really didn’t even elope!
In this case, yes, you can register with a gift registry and plan your wedding day for when your spouse returns. Legally you’re already married and your anniversary date won’t change. But in every other respect, this will be Your Wedding Day.
What kind of wedding dress is appropriate?
That is really a personal choice. If you can still fit into your original wedding gown, feel free to wear it again. If you had a large traditional ceremony when you got married, you can wear a more casual dress for this ceremony. The choice is yours depending on how small and intimate or large and formal the reaffirmation ceremony is that you’re planning.
What vows do we say?
For your vows, you can choose to repeat the exact vows you spoke on your wedding day, or write new ones that reflect the time you’ve been together and how you still feel.
Where should we have our ceremony?
And just like with planning any other wedding, you can choose to have your vow renewal ceremony anywhere you want-outside, at a fire banquet hall, anywhere that will accommodate the amount of people you will be inviting.
Who officiates a reaffirmation ceremony?
Your officiant can be anyone you want. If your first wedding was a civil ceremony and now you’d like something more religious, you can contact a minister to officiate. If you’re friends with a local district justice or mayor, you may choose to have him, although it’s not necessary because you’re already legally married.
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