The Why, Where, When & How of Renewing Wedding Vows
Renewing wedding vows can be a meaningful, touching, revivifying ceremony for you and your children, family and friends. As a married couple, it is a time to pause and reflect on where you have been and where you are going. It is also a wonderful example to set for your children and grandchildren. Can you imagine a more beautiful scene than children watching their parents joining hands and hearts as they affirm the magnitude and strength of their enduring love? What greater life/love lesson?
“True love does not wither or die. It merely ripens. ” Afterwards many couples comment as to how surprisingly romantic it all felt!
Wedding vow renewal ceremonies can be as creative and personal as you want them to be. Walk down the aisle to classical music and walk out to “your song”. Let the cover of your invitation feature your grandchild’s favorite drawing of Grandma and Pop Pop or even your first wedding portrait. Play your original wedding video at your reception. Buy new wedding bands for the occasion and have them specially engraved. Your ceremony should be less formal than a wedding – more casual and fun. It can completely reflect the two of you.
Significant anniversaries are especially appropriate times for renewing your commitment and love. I have conducted vow renewals for couples married as little as 10 years and as much as 50 years.
Some couples choose to renew their vows after a particularly difficult crisis in their lives, say for example, the overcoming of a serious illness or a period of estrangement. They want to make it new again! Others simply want to reaffirm the tremendous love that has matured and deepened with the passing of years. But the vow renewal is not wedding or wedding do-over so don’t de-value the day you and your spouse were first joined in marriage. That was a special day no matter where ot how it took place.
Vow renewals are usually conducted by clergy since they are generally more spiritual and not official in nature. However, if you have a warm hearted friend who is a judge or a ship’s captain—that could work nicely as well. Unlike weddings, no legal paperwork is needed for a vow renewal. The ceremony can be conducted in churches, chapels, temples, banquet facilities, on yachts, out of doors or in the privacy of a couple’s home – with a room full of guests or in an intimate setting with just the couple. Consider reaffirming your vows in some far off, exotic destination! The couples themselves host the celebration because it is so very personal. It is a decision that only you as a couple can make. There are no shot gun vow renewals!
A couple can end their vows with a poem, for example, this verse by James Weldon Johnson:
“The world, for me, and all the world can hold is circled in your arms,
for me there lies within the lights and shadows of your eyes the only beauty that is never old.”
A minister may state the following “Declaration of Intent” before the couple takes the standard wedding vows:
“”When you first joined hands and hearts 40 years ago, you did not know where life would take you. You promised to love, honor and cherish one another through all things. Life has surely brought you both wonderful blessings and difficult tribulations. Therefore, you have fulfilled your promise. And God is smiling! So, as you come here today to reaffirm your wedding vows and as you reflect back over all the years as husband and wife, do you now reaffirm the vows you took 40 years ago? If so, repeat after me.”
(Insert your personally written vows)
The following example vows have been adapted from Diane Warner’s Complete Book of Wedding Vows. A couple may say these words to one another just before they take the vows of their choice.
“You are mine, my love, and I am yours, as ordained by God from the beginning of time. God brought us together, kept us together.
You are God’s gift to me, my priceless treasure, my blessing for life. May God bless us as we come together before our family and friends to renew our pledge of love to one another, eternal.”
Writing your own vows?
Try the following to help you with the writing of your personalized wedding vows:
- Go through a book of wedding vows and jot down all the words and phrases you like on a piece of paper.
- Answer these questions:
- How do I love my wife/husband? How has our love grown over the years?
- How has my husband/wife made me a better person?
- For what am I most grateful to my wife/husband? What is my pledge to him/her for the future
- Quote famous authors of love poems or books
The Wedding Vow Toolkit - The ultimate tool that will help you write personalized vows that are romantic and special.
Equipped with the research and their answers, a couple is often better able to express what is in their heart. Remember that love brings even the most reticent tongue to verse! Some of the most beautiful vows I have heard come from those who have never written before. Also, in answering these questions, you are creating a precious document. How often do we take the time to complete such an exercise? You will cherish these words for the rest of your lives—and perhaps can even pass it along to your children one day.
Examples and Sample Vows for a Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony:
“Once before, I have stood with you before family and friends; once again, I take your hand as my partner. (Name), I take you this day, and for all days, as my (husband/wife).”
“I believe in this marriage more strongly than ever. (Name), it is with joy born of experience and trust that I commit myself once again to be your (husband/wife).”
“I am proud to marry you on this day. I promise to wipe away your tears with my laughter and your pain with my caring and compassion. We will wipe clean the old canvases of our lives and let God, with His amazing artistic talent, fill them with new colors, harmony and beauty. I promise to love you always.”
“I, (name), give to you, (name), a new promise, and yet not so new; a new (husband/wife), and yet not so new; and a new affirmation of love from the heart that has loved you for (__) years and will love you for as many more as God allows.”
Today, after (number ) years of marriage, I ask you to continue to take me as your husband (wife). I thank God for the gift of you. I thank you. My promise to you is perhaps best spoken through the words of Wilferd Arlan Peterson: “Across the years I’ll walk with you, in deep green forest, on shores of sand, and when our time on earth is through in heaven too, you will have my hand.” I love you, (name).
(Name), I have always loved you and will always love you. You are part of me, the best part of me. With you by my side, I have grown so much. We have evolved and transformed together. We have endured together, laughed and cried together. Beloved, please take my hand. With you as my partner, the best is yet to be. For this I pray.
(Name), you are my heart, my best friend, my life. Today before family and friends, I renew my commitment to you. I promise to love and cherish you, respect you and grow with you for all the days of our lives. This is my solemn vow.
The word renaissance means rebirth; today we celebrate the rebirth of our commitment before loving family and friends.
(Wife’s name), with full confidence in the solid anchor of our love, I take you, once again, as my husband.
(Husband’s name), with full confidence in the solid anchor of our love, I take you, once again, as my wife
Emily Bronte once wrote, “…he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…” This is how I feel. I am blessed to be your wife. It is an honor to call you my husband. Today before our children (and grandchildren), I proudly renew my marriage vow to you. My love for you has deepened beyond anything I could have imagined.
(Name), the best thing I ever did was to marry you. I didn’t always deserve you, but I always loved you. My vow to you, before God, is to do better, be better. I want to be the best husband (wife) I can be for you, for me, for us. I will do my best. This is my promise to you for the rest of my life.
Perhaps the only thing truer than one’s first love is to recommit to that love before family and friends.
(Name), you were and are my love for life; I take you, once again, as my (husband/wife)
If there are new rings to exchange:
Many couples want to keep the rings they exchanged when they married. But, for those who would like to exchange new rings here are some vows you might say to one another while you exchange the new rings.
“Do you, (Husband) continue to take (Wife) as your loving wife? Will you continue to love her, honor her, comfort and treasure her, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live? Do you, (Wife) continue to take (Husband) as your loving husband? Will you continue to love him, honor him, comfort and treasure him, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live?”
As the husband and wife exchange new rings:
“Husband/Wife, I give you this ring as a token of our abiding love and recommitment to one another.”
“We have lived and loved as we promised long ago in the presence of God, and our past and future are a circle unbroken, much like these rings, with which we renew our pledge to one another of never-ending devotion.”
Vows for Reaffirming with your original wedding rings:
Husband/Wife hold hands, touch the other’s ring and say:
“From this day forward, I reaffirm my love for you, and this ring is a symbol of that love.”
Know that there are sections for vow renewals in most wedding books. Your readings can be tailored to represent a more mature love. The Anniversary Song by Naomi Long Madgett is popular with couples and is often read along side a biblical verse. And. speaking of music, following are suggestions for songs to play during the ceremony or at the party that may follow:
Best Anniversary Songs Often Make Good Music
& Songs for Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremonies:
This Ring - T Carter Music
You Decorated My Life - Kenny Rogers
Remember When - Alan Jackson
Through the Years - Kenny Rogers
After All These Years - Jim Brickman
The Anniversary Song – Al Jolson and Saul Chaplin
The Vows Go Unbroken - Kenny Rogers
Look at Us - Vince Gill
Built to Last - Heartland
Because You Loved Me - Celine Dion
As Time Goes By - Jimmy Durante
Have I Told You Lately - Rod Stewart
100 Years - Five for Fighting
After All These Years – Journey
Because of You - Tony Bennett
Still the One - Orleans
I’m a Believer - The Monkees
Nobody Knows Me Like You - Phil Vassar
I Keep On Loving You - Reba McEntire
I Cross My Heart - George Strait
Wedding vow renewal information and sample vows for renewal ceremonies generously written and submitted by Rev. Susanna Stefanachi Macomb, Interfaith Minister, Author of Joining Hands and Hearts – Intercultural Wedding Celebrations: A Practical Guide for Couples.