Vow Renewal Etiquette

Whether it’s the 5-year, 10-year, 20-year, or 50-year mark, anytime after a wedding is a great time to have a vow renewal ceremony. Ultimately it’s a personal choice and one that has to feel right to the couple, the most important part of the entire event is the re-commitment.

No matter what reason the vow renewal is used for though, there comes with the celebration a certain amount of proper etiquette. When couples are at a new stage in their life and love, it stands to reason that this celebration or reaffirmation should be different than their wedding day.

While it’s a nice idea to incorporate some traditions, it’s an opportunity to make new ones as well. Keep in mind that wedding vow renewals can be divided into these three areas: before, during, and after the ceremony (the party) – and this division will help you plan.

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

Vow Renewal Etiquette


Before the Ceremony

When the planning begins, there are a few things to take consider before you dive in and start making decisions. 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 Are You Having One?

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 later, 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 intimate 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.


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.

Nix the bachelorette party too but still have a bit of fun. 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.

During the Ceremony

Remember, 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.

What Should the “Bride” Wear?

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.

But when it comes to the color, white is fine. 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.

Flowers & Decor

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.


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.


Firstly, those traditional dances just don’t make sense for this party. For example, 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 may 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.

And when it comes to the food, just go with what you’d like to have. But when it comes to the cake, don’t have it resemble a wedding cake. It can still be tired if the event if a larger one though, no worries!

After the Ceremony

Just like any other event, including a wedding, it’s still appropriate to send out thank you cards. Make sure, especially if any gifts were given, that you write down who purchased what so you can include a personalized note of appreciation.

Simple Do’s & Don’ts to Follow

We’ve been discussing the etiquette of vow renewals and here’s just another small guide to follow when planning your own. Keep yourself and the planning in check with our simple do’s and don’ts to follow.

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. The 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 big anniversaries (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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