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Vow Renewal Etiquette

A couple may plan a vow renewal ceremony any time after their wedding. Most people celebrate due to a number of reasons, but ultimately it is a personal choice. What matters is that a coupled is re-commiting to each other.

Couples want to renew their wedding vows for a variety of reasons, yet most want to have a better understanding of the proper etiquette. Wedding vow renewals can be divided into these three areas: before, during, and after the ceremony (the party).

You’re at a new stage in your life and love, so it stands to reason that your vow renewal or reaffirmation ceremony should be different from your wedding day. While it’s a nice idea to incorporate some of the traditions from your wedding day, take this opportunity to make new ones as well.

Here are some vow renewal etiquette rules and tips to follow and some advice when it comes to vow renewals.

A Vow Renewal Is Not a Second Wedding

A second wedding is what one has after they’ve been divorced or widowed (In other words, getting married to someone new). So, the vow renewal should not mirror a wedding for it is most often viewed negatively. Yet, the married couple may include elements of a wedding and have more freedom to change traditional wedding elements.

For example, this is not a legal ceremony, so anyone may officiate the event. Plus, although it seems silly for a father to escort a wife to her husband, a nice alternative is for the couple to walk toward each other from the sides of the room, meeting each other in front of the facilitator/officiant. And, just because a bachelorette party is inappropriate for a wife, doesn’t mean that she couldn’t get together with her friends for an evening of fun, such as watching old movies and imbibing in their beverage of choice.

Also see: Get Amazing Wedding Deals | Vow Renewal Invitation Sites

vow renewal etiquette

Use Common Sense When Renewing Vows

Whatever you choose to include in your wedding vow renewal ceremony, use good, common sense. Consider your guest’s opinions about your event and ask yourself why you are hosting it in the first place.  If you sincerely consider everything, you’ll probably avoid any major etiquette faux pas. So, enjoy yourself and each other and create an affair to remember.

Why Have a Vow Renewal

Reasons for a Vow Renewal

Why Have a Vow Renewal?

Husbands and wives across the world renew their vows for many reasons. Some of the main reasons we hear include:

  • They had a massive wedding because they were forced to by their families. Years late, they decided it was all too much, and really want to reaffirm their love more intimately.
  • They got married in a courthouse or eloped and totally missed out on a fun, more traditional wedding experience. Now a few years later, things have settled down and the couple wants to do something a bit more formal or celebratory.
  • The couple has recently been separated or has gone through a rough spot in their marriage. Sometimes couples have such great differences that it seems as if a split is inevitable, yet they somehow pull through and work it all out.
  • They have hit a big marriage milestone, like a 5, 10, 25 or 50 year anniversary. These big anniversaries are a natural time to celebrate their lasting love. Do it up the way you want!

Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules as to when you can or can’t have your vow renewal ceremony. It is a personal decision. Whether you had limited time or money when you were first married or you or you want to celebrate a big wedding anniversary is irrelevant, a vow renewal is a great chance to reaffirm your love for each other so do it whenever you want.

The reaffirmation of vows ceremony can be as intimiate or as extravagant as you want or can afford. Most vow renewal ceremonies we know of are typically more intimate so as to allow the two of you to spend time together and regroup. But again, it is a personal choice so if you want to go big and invite everyone, have a blast and celebrate in a large way, then go for it.

second wedding questions

Questions When It Comes To Second Wedding Etiquette

Okay To Have A Wedding Cake At My Vow Renewal Reception? A tiered cake is fine as long as it doesn’t appear to be a wedding cake. Could it be tiered and still appear to be an anniversary cake? Your call.

Can I Wear a Real Wedding Dress for Vow Renewal? No, since this is not a wedding, and you are not a bride. You shouldn’t wear a wedding dress. However, the dress can be as formal as the event you’re planning. Just select something that coordinates with the type of event you’re hosting.

How About A White Dress For A Vow Renewal? White should be fine; it doesn’t really signify weddings. We usually advise against it though because so many do feel that it is reserved for the wedding dress. The main point is that it shouldn’t appear to be a wedding dress. You can read more about dresses for vow renewals here.

Difference Between Vow Renewal And Marriage Blessing. Vow Renewals are not second weddings. Unless somewhere along the way to happily ever after you and your spouse divorced and are now remarrying, this is not a second wedding. This is, however, an opportunity to reaffirm your marriage vows and love of one another, or perhaps a chance to have your marriage blessed by the church.

Can I Have A Bachelor/Bachelorette party? These parties are typically thought of as your “last night out as a single person”, so, as tempting as it may sound, the fact is that the last hurrah ship sailed a long time ago. You are a married couple.

Bridal Shower An Option For My Vow Renewal? Shower with love, not with gifts.Traditionally, the bridal shower is a time when friends and family can shower the bride with items she will need to begin her married life.  A shower is also an event to help make guests feel as if they are a part of the wedding planning process. Again, you are already married and have a home set up. When it comes to vow renewals, encourage friends and family to shower you with love and support, rather than gifts.

What About Gfits For A Vow Renewal? While a vow renewal or reaffirmation is a celebratory occasion, it is generally not viewed as a gift-giving situation. In fact, if gifts are mentioned or requested by the couple, the focus may shift away from the ceremony of love. While writing “no gifts please” on a wedding invitation is not acceptable, it is perfectly acceptable to include such wording in a vow renewal invitation. All that said, if you are hosting this event in honor of an anniversary then some people may want to give you an anniversary gift. Any time gifts are given, be gracious and always send a timely thank you note.

Does Renewing Vows Need to Be Formal? If a wedding is about proclaiming your love with a big fancy dress, big fancy ceremony and reception and big fancy cake… the renewal ceremony is more of a simple, understated, private affair. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If you are recreating your original wedding ceremony, all bets are off.

How do Attendants Become Attendees? Did you realize that attendants are basically witnesses? Although you may want them at your reaffirmation ceremony or vow renewal, they do not necessarily need to function in an official capacity. Many women will try to recreate their first wedding for a benchmark anniversary.  If this is the case, using your original attendants is fine.  But, it is better to simply invite them as guests.

Does Somebody Give Me Away? None of us are “given away.”  This term isn’t even used for wedding ceremonies anymore.  While fathers typically walk the bride down the aisle during weddings, this doesn’t seem appropriate for vow renewals because the couple is already married.  The father doesn’t need to publicly show his approval or support of the marriage and the father is not handing the daughter off to her new husband. When it comes to reaffirmation ceremonies, the husband and wife could walk the aisle together or she should walk alone. While the couple’s children and grandchildren may accompany her down the aisle, a procession is not necessary for this ceremony. Our favorite option has the couple entering from the sides of the room walking toward each other and the altar.

Can I Have a Bouquett? Flowers are perfect for most occasions, and your reaffirmation ceremony is no exception. Put together your bouquet with care and consideration so that it reflects your love for one another and coordinates with your event in both formality and color/theme choice.

Can I Surprise My Parents With Vow Renewal Ceremony? The vow renewal or blessing of the marriage in church must be planned by the couple. These ceremonies are very personal and both parties should be involved in the planning and both should agree that they want this service. I would suggest hosting an anniversary party if you want a surprise. If not, suggest the ceremonies to your parents and allow them to plan the ceremony and the family can plan the party that follows.

How To Do A Vow Renewal Ceremony Without A Minister Or OfficiantSince this is not a wedding, it really doesn’t matter who is your facilitator as this isn’t legal or a religious ceremony. You two are merely stating to each other that you remain in love and want to remain in your relationship. So, you can write your own vows to each other and design how you wish the ceremony to proceed. There are examples of this in books. But, there are no rules to the ceremony itself except that it shouldn’t appear to be a wedding.

Exchanging Rings At Vow Renewal Ceremony. While some couples have a real connection to their wedding rings, others view the vow renewal ceremony as an opportunity to exchange new rings. You can choose to use your wedding rings or get new rings. That’s a personal decision only the two of you can make. It’s fine either way. Here is a set of vows for the exchange of rings during the vow renewal. Of course, we encourage you to write your own vows or use those as a starting point or template for writing your own vows. That’s what makes the ceremony even more special!

Can We Use A Receiving Line for Large Gatherings? All of your guests should be acquainted with you, but for the large gatherings it is helpful to form a receiving line so you may introduce your children or other family members to your guests.  Because you are the host, you will be the first in line.

Will The Traditional Reception Dances Be Different? The father/daughter dance just doesn’t seem right, does it? After all, the wife has been living with her husband for some time. So, while you many not want to include all those traditional dances as part of your reception, you could still dance a couple’s first dance which will signify the first dance of the next phase of their life together. You might also consider inventing some of your own dances. For instance, you could call all couples to the dance floor who have been married for ten years or more.

Do We Call It A Wedding Cake? No, lets think of it more as an “anniversary’ type cake. The reaffirmation cake is sometimes recreated from the couple’s wedding, including the topper.  However, this should be more of an ‘anniversary’ type cake.  So, including writing on the cake would be appropriate.

What About Speeches & Toasts? Toasts are a great way to celebrate the couple in this new phase of their life. Of course, for a reaffirmation ceremony or vow renewal, the toasts should reflect upon the couple’s continued love, not upon the couple finding each other (as it is for the wedding reception). Keep in mind, though, that there is no best man toast because there is no best man.  The wife already married her best man.

I Assume No Garter Toss or Bouquet Toss, Right? You’re not alone if you find these traditions more than just a bit silly for a married couple.  Would you believe that both of these customs began as a way to keep wedding guests from tearing the bride’s clothes?!  It was viewed as good luck to snatch a piece of her clothing. Perhaps you can create a new tradition of your own, instead.

vow renewal dos and donts

Vow Renewal Do’s & Don’ts

Let’s discuss the etiquette of vow renewals, which is basically a guide of what society deems appropriate and, really, what makes sense. A couple may plan a vow renewal ceremony any time after their wedding, however, some common sense should be followed. After all, this ceremony is supposed to be somewhat of an anniversary present, a re-commitment to each other, from the couple to themselves or a blessing of a marriage by the church.

Vow Renewal Do’s

  • Plan well because this is an event the couple typically hosts; parents are not usually financially involved.
  • Create new elements that suit a married couple.
  • Involve your children and other family members.
  • Write custom vows and/or exchange new rings.
  • Include a special bouquet.
  • Wear any color you wish, including a white dress.
  • Have a wedding reception-like party

Vow Renewal Dont’s:

  • Bachelor or bachelorette party. A last night of freedom as a single person isn’t acceptable; you are married.
  • No showers. Originally, this party was meant to shower the young bride with items she may need to begin her married life. As a wife, this isn’t appropriate or needed.
  • Attendants are not part of a vow renewal unless you are recreating your original wedding. Although, children and grandchildren often walk with the wife and stand with the couple.
  • Don’t ask for gifts. A vow renewal is not considered a gift giving situation, except for biganniversaries (25th, 50th)
  • Wear a wedding dress. A wife is not a bride, so a wedding dress wouldn’t seem appropriate would it?

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About the Author
Team Wedding, founded in January 2000, is a network of wedding related directories and niche wedding websites designed to alleviate wedding planning stress and to give brides and grooms the one-stop-shop experience they need in this busy, modern world. I Do, Take Two is the most robust resource for expert advice and articles for those planning a second wedding, a second marriage or who are renewing their vows.

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