Vow Renewal Guide: 17 Rules and Tips To Follow

What Is A Vow Renewal?

A vow renewal is an opportunity for a couple to renew the vows that they made to each other when they first got married. It is a way to commemorate a love that has deepened or matured between a couple. A vow renewal ceremony is not meant to be a second wedding. Instead, it is meant to be a more personalized and intimate affair to be celebrated with close friends and family.

Why Should I Renew My Vows?

  • You eloped when you were younger because you didn’t have the money or the time to throw a complete wedding. Now that you’re older, you want to fully commemorate your union together.
  • Your marriage has recently been on the rocks, or you’ve gone through a separation. You and your significant other have now reconciled your differences, and your relationship is even stronger than it was before. Why not celebrate your newly restored love?
  • A vow renewal can also be a great way to commemorate a milestone wedding anniversary such as a 20, 30, or 50-year anniversary.
  • Overcoming a major obstacle together is a perfect time to renew vows. Whether it’s a serious illness that you or your spouse has endured, or you’ve spent a significant amount of time apart due to military leave, or even the birth of a new child — these are major events that deserve a celebration.


17 Vow Renewal Rules and Tips

Your vow renewal can be as big or as small as you’d like. Be it a festive celebration with a hundred guests or a small intimate ceremony with just you and your partner, your vow renewal is a personal experience and should be celebrated accordingly. Follow our vow renewal tips below to help you plan your (second) special day!

  1. Should I treat my vow renewal as a second wedding?

No, a vow renewal is not a second wedding. Instead of focusing on putting on a grand affair that’s meant to impress your guests, a vow renewal is meant to be a much more personal celebration that’s to be celebrated with friends and family.

  1. How should a vow renewal be proposed?

Since a marriage proposal is a life-changing event, there is a lot of pressure on coming up with the perfect proposal. However, since you and your spouse are already married, you can definitely have more fun with the vow renewal proposal. You can make reservations at your favorite restaurant together and have the chef write “Marry Me Again” on the dessert plate. Another idea is to tuck a handwritten note into your spouse’s briefcase or coat pocket, so that they can be surprised when they get to work. The options are endless, feel free to get creative!


  1. Should my vow renewal dress be white?

Feel free to wear a white dress, but avoid wearing one that looks like a wedding dress. Remember, a vow renewal is not a second wedding. Instead, opt for an elegant gown or dress that’s fitting for the occasion.

  1. Can I still have a bachelor or a bachelorette party?

Absolutely! A bachelor or bachelorette party for a vow renewal is a great way to catch up with old friends. Plan to enjoy a casual night out and dine at your favorite restaurant, or have a relaxed afternoon sipping on mimosas with your favorite ladies at brunch!


  1. Do I need a bouquet?

Just because a vow renewal is not a wedding, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a bouquet! When choosing a vow renewal bouquet, instead of choosing an elaborate (and expensive) arrangement, consider choosing a simple yet fun bouquet that mixes the old with the new. Feel free to get creative by pairing classic wedding flowers like roses and peonies, with eclectic wildflowers like poppies, or exotic blooms like protea.

No matter what you decide for your vow renewal bouquet, feel free to throw traditional customs out the window, and go with an arrangement that best fits your personality and style.

  1. Should I have a bridal party?

Since a vow renewal is more of a casual affair, a bridal or wedding party is not necessary. Because you are already married, you’ll want to avoid the risk of burdening your friends and family into making more plans than they already are — especially if they’ve already attended your actual wedding.


  1. Where should the vow renewal ceremony be held?

A vow renewal can be held anywhere from your church, a banquet hall, or in the comfort of your own home. There are no strict rules that apply, so make it a personal experience by choosing a place that is the most meaningful for you and your spouse.

  1. What happens in a vow renewal ceremony?

During a vow renewal ceremony, vows are exchanged and it is an opportunity for the couple to reflect on their relationship and be grateful for everything they’ve accomplished together up to this point. The couple can choose to exchange the same vows, or they can prepare new vows. During the ceremony, rings are also exchanged between the couple.

  1. Do I need to have a ceremony to renew my vows?

A vow renewal certainly does not need to include a ceremony and reception. It can be a great opportunity to take a trip together! Is there a destination that you and your partner have always wanted to travel to, but could never squeeze in the time? Well now is your chance to create memories together and cross that item off the travel bucket list.


  1. Should I have a reception?

A reception is a must! This is the most fun aspect of a vow renewal and is where you can truly celebrate. Your reception can be anything from an intimate dinner party at your home with your closest friends and family to a fun cocktail party! During the reception, you can share your old wedding album with your guests, or play a slideshow of photos you and your spouse have taken together throughout the year.

  1. Who should I invite?

Since a vow renewal is meant to be a casual affair, you can feel free to invite anyone you’d like! Keep the number of guests down to a minimum to avoid having it become a huge affair that can get out of hand quickly. The goal is to keep the event low-key and intimate. Your time should be spent enjoying the company of your close friends and family, instead of worrying about planning.


  1. Should we exchange our old wedding rings or get new ones?

For a vow renewal, you can go with either option! If you choose to exchange your old wedding rings, a common practice is to get them engraved either with a special message or a meaningful quote.

  1. Who can officiate the vow renewal?

Since a vow renewal ceremony does not have any legal implications, anyone can officiate a vow renewal. You can choose your minister, a close friend, a relative or even your oldest child to be your officiant. You may even choose to hire a vow renewal officiant or celebrant to preside over the ceremony.


  1. Can I have a cake?

Absolutely! A cake is still appropriate for a vow renewal, but a wedding-style cake should be avoided. Instead, opt for a smaller anniversary-style cake instead of a large multi-tiered masterpiece.

  1. Who should escort me down the aisle?

Instead of having the “bride” be escorted down the aisle, it is common for the couple to walk from opposite sides of the room and meet in the middle. You can also choose to have your children walk with you down the aisle.


  1. Should we still do a traditional dance for the reception?

A father-daughter dance for your vow renewal would hardly be appropriate, given that you’ve already been married for a significant amount of time. Instead, invite all the married couples to join you on the dance floor.

  1. Should I have a gift registry?

A vow renewal celebration is not typically a gift-giving event. Gifts are given at a wedding because they are supposed to help with a couple’s transition into their new life together. In a vow renewal, the couple already has an established life together, therefore, guests should not be expected to bring gifts. Skip the registry and instead focus on having a fun night celebrating with your closest friends and loved ones.

Vow Renewal Do’s and Don’ts

To help you keep track of all the do’s and don’ts of vow renewal etiquette, we’ve created a visual guide below with some helpful vow renewal ideas. We’ve also included a cheat sheet for you to easily reference when planning your vow renewal. Ready to propose a vow renewal? When it comes to celebrating romance, there’s nothing more romantic than a timeless bouquet of roses to make your spouse feel extra special for your vow renewal.

vow renewal guide infographic




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