The Guide to Vow Renewals

Married couple celebrating with confetti on their vow renewal day.

Image Source: Chino Rocha

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It may have been years or even decades since you’ve gotten married, but that doesn’t mean you’re done celebrating your love for each other. Today, many spouses choose to reaffirm their wedding day promises with vow renewals. 

A vow renewal is a ceremony in which a married couple restates their commitments to each other. These ceremonies take place typically a year or more after the wedding, often on milestone anniversaries such as 10, 15, 20 or 25 years. 

Wedding vows in special envelopes.

Image Source: Jennifer Kalenberg

If you’re ready to recommit and celebrate your continued love with a vow renewal, it’s important to learn more about these symbolic ceremonies and how plan the perfect vow renewal for your relationship. 

What is a Vow Renewal?

A vow renewal is a type of recommitment ceremony in which an already married couple reaffirms their promises to each other. The vow renewal ceremony typically resembles many aspects of a traditional wedding, with couples dressing up and inviting guests to witness their renewal of commitment. 

Couple smiling after their vow renewal ceremony. 

Image Source: Katherine Hanlon

Your vow renewal ceremony can be as formal or as informal as you’d like. Because these ceremonies are not legally binding, they can be fully customized. You can have a vow renewal ceremony that looks just like a wedding with cake, a DJ, bouquets, wedding rings and photographers or you can have a low-key vow renewal ceremony. It’s all about the celebration that best represents you and your spouse. 

The Purpose of Vow Renewals

There are many reasons couples choose to renew their vows. Popular reasons for vow renewals include: 

  1. Wanting to have a larger ceremony following a small wedding   
  2. Celebrating a milestone anniversary 
  3. Reaffirming marriage promises after relationship obstacles  
  4. Surprising your spouse with a vow renewal 
  5. Celebrating with children and new family additions  
  6. Remembering where the marriage started  
  7. Honoring continued love for each other  

No matter the reason, renewing your wedding vows can show your spouse how much you still love them and help your relationship grow even stronger. A vow renewal ceremony reaffirms your wedding day promises and your commitment to your spouse.  

Vow Renewal Requirements

Image Source: Alesia Kaz

When it comes to marriage and celebrations of love, there are no exact rules for how to show your partner you care. The only real “rule” for wedding vow renewal ceremonies is that you’ve shared vows previously so that you can renew your promises. 

Because a vow renewal ceremony isn’t legally binding, there aren’t any requirements for the event. You can have a ceremony that’s formal or one that’s informal, all depending on what’s best for you and your spouse. 

When to Renew Vows

Envelopes holding vow renewals.

Image Source: Camden & Hailey George

Vow renewal ceremonies are popular following milestone anniversaries like 20, 30 or 50 years. Some couples choose to have a wedding vow renewal ceremony at a different interval, celebrating recommitment after overcoming obstacles together or simply feeling inspired to honor their continued love. 

For other couples, a vow renewal ceremony acts as the large wedding they wish they could have afforded or planned when they first got married. These kinds of vow renewal ceremonies look the most like classic weddings with invitations, photographers, a reception and rings

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your spouse to decide when (and if) you’d like to renew your vows. There are no exact rules about when to renew your wedding vows. 

How to Plan a Vow Renewal

Husband and wife at their vow renewal ceremony, the husband is reading his vows.

Image Source: Tai’s Captures

Planning a vow renewal can look a lot like planning a traditional wedding, elopement or commitment ceremony. Keep the following steps in mind when planning your vow renewal ceremony: 

  1. Decide how much you’d like your event to resemble a classic wedding 
  2. Choose your vow renewal location 
  3. Hire any vendors you want for the special day, such as photographers, an officiant or caterers  
  4. Invite friends and family with traditional invitations that explain it’s a vow renewal ceremony 
  5. Pick your outfits, such as a tuxedo and vow renewal dress that looks just like a wedding dress if you’d like 
  6. Write your renewal vows, which can look a lot like your original vows with acknowledgement of your continued promises 

Many professional wedding planners also offer vow renewal services to help you plan the perfect ceremony. 

When planning your wedding vow renewal ceremony, focus on choosing ceremony elements with meaning to you and your spouse. This ceremony is all about reaffirming your promises and should feel like a celebration of your continued love above all else

Tips for Vow Renewals

Your vow renewal ceremony should be special to you and your spouse, feeling like a celebration of your commitment to each other. Because vow renewals are not legally binding, you can plan any celebration that fits your relationship the best. 

Consider exchanging jewelry as a part of your vow renewal ceremony to serve as gifts that can remind you of your special day for years to come. 

Tips for Couples

Image Source: Chino Rocha

If you’re planning a vow renewal that looks like a wedding ceremony, you may be wondering if you should have bridesmaids and groomsmen. Because you and your spouse are already married, it is not typical to have traditional wedding parties at your vow renewal. Instead, you may want to include your original wedding party by having them stand next to you in a more informal capacity or even give them special seating during your vow renewal ceremony. 

Another common question is what to wear to your wedding vow renewal ceremony. If you’re taking the traditional route, you may want to opt for tuxedos and formal vow renewal dresses. A vow renewal dress can look exactly like a wedding dress, and many women use their vow renewal ceremony as an opportunity to wear their dream wedding dress. 

Though your vow renewal can resemble a traditional wedding, it is not common to ask for wedding gifts as a part of your vow renewal ceremony. This is because you’re already a married couple and combined household, so gifts are not customary. 

Tips for Guests

For guests attending a vow renewal ceremony, it’s best to refer to the invitation to understand dress code and celebration expectations. These ceremonies can be formal or informal, all depending on the couple. As a good rule of thumb, it’s typical to wear lighter colors for daytime celebrations and darker colors for nighttime events. 

Generally, guests are not expected to bring gifts to vow renewal ceremonies. 

Writing Vow Renewals

Photo of handwritten wedding vows with fountain pen and flowers on the page. 

Image Source: Debby Hudson

Your vows are the most important part of your wedding vow renewal ceremony. While your vow renewal officiant (if you’ve chosen to have one at your event) can guide your renewals, it’s common to have your own personal vows in the ceremony as well.

When writing what you’ll say at your vow renewal ceremony, it’s easiest to start with your original wedding vows, echoing your original promises to your spouse and acknowledging how you’re continuing your commitments with love and respect for your spouse. 

To write brand new vows for your renewal ceremony, consider how far you’ve come in your marriage together. What aspects of your commitments have helped you reach this point in your relationship? What elements can you keep working on to strengthen your marriage even further? What are your favorite things about your spouse

Including answers to these questions can help strengthen your renewal vows, showing your spouse how much you appreciate them and how committed you are to continuing to grow with them. 

Jewelry for Renewing Your Vows

Men’s and women’s bands in gold and diamonds. 

After renewing vows, many couples exchange rings. These can be engagement rings, anniversary rings or matching women’s wedding rings and men’s wedding rings. Your vow renewal jewelry can serve as a reminder of your relationship and special day, symbolizing your continued promises to each other. 

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