Vow renewal ceremonies are becoming increasingly popular among couples all over the world. Why would a couple renew their vows? Well, for several reasons. One could be that they want to mark a particular milestone anniversary, like a 10 year or 25 year anniversary. It doesn't necessarily have to be a milestone, though. Some couples may have gone through a difficult time, such as a sickness, trouble in marriage, or even infidelity. These couples have made it through the rough times and want to reaffirm and celebrate their love for each other.
Vow renewal ceremonies run the gamut, from a quick exchange at the beach or an Elvis marriage in Vegas, to a ceremony rivaling a traditional, formal wedding. There do not seem to be etiquette rules set in stone when it comes to renewing vows, but there are some guidelines. Here are just a few:
First of all, a vow renewal ceremony is NOT a second wedding. No, you cannot have a bridal shower. No bachelor or bachelorette parties. And it is not a good idea to register for gifts…it's just tacky. This is an event that is supposed to celebrate the marriage so far and a renewed commitment to live happily ever after, not a reason to pick out a second set of china.
There are also some other traditions that are usually included in a wedding that need not be part of a vow renewal ceremony. For example, the father does not need to give away the 'bride' or have a traditional father/daughter dance. His part is done; he has approved the marriage already and doesn't need to do so again. Another example is the bouquet toss. Although it is a lovely idea for the woman to carry flowers, tossing them to single women is not appropriate. Finally, the married couple does not need to have witnesses (bridesmaids and groomsmen) at the ceremony. However, it is a nice gesture to have the original attendants involved in the ceremony, either as honored guests or to make toasts to the couple.
Keep in mind that since vow renewals aren't considered a legal or formal contract, it is not necessary to have an official judge or ordained minister conduct the ceremony, although it is certainly acceptable. The couple may choose to have a spiritual leader or even a close friend officiate. They can also choose to have no one, and just say their vows to each other. The location of the vow renewal ceremony can either be a house of worship or a secular location, depending on what the couple chooses; either one is appropriate.
Couples who renew their vows tend to write the vows themselves. The vows are usually very personal, and reflect on where the couple has been in their marriage, and the promise of many more happy years together. Repeating the vows said at the original marriage ceremony is romantic as well.
Get your children involved, if you have them. It is a sweet way to not only reaffirm your marriage, but also affirm your commitment as a family. The children will love being a part of the process. Have them stand with you as the vows are exchanged, or allow them to be ring-bearers if rings are exchanged.
Speaking of rings, whether or not to use the original rings or buy a new set is strictly up to the couple, and either option is acceptable. Jewelers make rings specifically for the purpose of milestone anniversaries or renewing vows, so finding a set for the occasion will not be a problem.
Attire is a personal choice of the couple as well. Some women choose to wear their original dress, but normally the dress should reflect the event. Whether it is a formal or casual event, the clothes of course should reflect that.
Whatever reason influenced your decision to have a vow renewal ceremony, make it your own. Have it reflect you and your spouse's personalities. Keep in mind these few simple guidelines and it will be a joyous occasion!