How To Do A Vow Renewal Ceremony Without A Minister Or Officiant


Vow Renewal Question: My husband and I are planning a vow renewal ceremony. I’ve searched it, and all I can find is information if you are having a minister bless you. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or ideas on how to do the ceremony ourselves?

We’re just having our family and a few close friends (total of 50 people) attend, and it’s in my father’s backyard. We’d like to say our vows to each other as well as do the “wine box ceremony” (where you put a bottle of wine, 2 glasses, and letters to each other in the box and you open 5 or 10 years later), any other ideas?

Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette Now

I’m not a party planner, but I can advise you in this. This shouldn’t appear to be a wedding. It is best if this is held on a bench mark anniversary (25+) if inviting guests. And, we have many, many posts concerning vow renewals. You might want to search for them.

The wine box ceremony is something someone created not too long ago and isn’t traditional for any event. So, there isn’t any etiquette involved. It seems appropriate to use it for a vow renewal since you two are restating your vows to each other. Also, it should be something only you two are doing without guest participation. It wouldn’t be appropriate for guests to be expected to provide anything like wine, glasses, or any type of gift.

Since 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.

Remarriage Expert

I had never heard of such a service. That’s sounds really nice – sort of like a time capsule? Sweet!

As Rebecca said, there is no need for a minister or any legalities since the vow renewal isn’t a legal service so write your own vows and ceremony and enjoy. We’d love to hear how this comes out.

Reverend Susanna
Joining Hands and Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations : A Practical Guide for Couples

You can conduct your vow renewal piecing together vows, blessings, readings, rituals and various wonderful ideas from this website. There are certainly lots of books out there that are step by step guides for writing your own ceremony, including my own book. You would just need to adapt the language a bit if you are not having an officiant and doing it yourselves. Here is one idea, at the end of your ceremony, have your closest family and friends bestow their personal good wishes upon you—their blessings. Then they can all toss rose petals upon you or blow bubbles, or in keeping with your wine box ceremony have glasses of champagne on hand and they can all raise their glasses in a unified cheer to your renewed and reaffirmed union before drinking.

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Officiant Vow Renewal Question: My husband and I eloped 2 years ago. Last year we had our big fancy wedding. Since we did this 2 years in a row we were thinking of doing it every year. Can we renew our vows without someone to officiate.

Can we go to a park and read something to each other, or something like that? Is this legal? Does it need to be legal since we are already married? Thank you.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette NowDear Lissa,

Hopefully you are not inviting guests to these events as people, honestly, find them silly, as it appears that you are pretending to be a bride. I sincerely hope your guests to your “wedding” didn’t think poorly about it or you. When you are married, you are. So, your all out big fancy wedding ceremony, while already in the wife role, wasn’t proper or even logical.

You don’t need anyone to officiate since you are legally married and this isn’t a religious ceremony to bless your marriage.

I disagree that people would find renewing vows silly. Marriage to SOME people actually mean something very special to one another and what better way of sharing that feeling than inviting family and friends to witness this special time. She is not pretending to be a bride. She is merely wanting to share in the joy every year with her husband, family and friends. There are many people that get married at one destination and then have a second wedding ceremony/reception at a different location. I find your comment to Lissa very insulting. It’s 2008, not 1908. I don’t find her actions to be inappropriate at all.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette Now

I’m sorry, but this is not a chat room. It is a website devoted to proper etiquette and offering the very best advice available. It is not appropriate, and against the rules you agreed to, to offer your advice and comments.

Please read more about what a wedding is and what a vow renewal is supposed to be in real, up-to-the-date etiquette books. I believe you are confused. Those who marry and then host a wedding later are considered by those who know better…well, not so socially savvy and other terms not so polite. We try to help our visitors avoid this label. And, most appreciate it.

Also, always consider your guests when planning an event for which they are to be invited. When we invite, we are then hosts and beholden to them. It isn’t always about us.

Remarriage Expert

It’s not renewing vows that’s silly. It’s hosting something that looks like a wedding when you’re already married that is viewed as silly. We have many posts from guests about this subject.

Renewing your vows every year is totally up to you, but, if you’re inviting guests, they may get a bit tired of it. And, doing this every year makes it less special.

Don’t go getting your feelings all hurt now. When you ask for advice, be mature enough to receive what you asked for. We’re not here to validate you. We’re giving you the advice we know to be true from experience. If you don’t care for the advice given, you’re not obligated to follow it.

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