Vow Renewal Question: I am planning a surprise 25th wedding anniversary party/vow renewal for my mom and dad. My parents have always talked about renewing vows on their 25th, unfortunately my father was recently diagnosed with cancer, and every penny they have is going to his treatments, so they gave up on the idea of doing the ceremony.
But seeing as how I am an only child I just could not let this go. My husband and I have a very tight budget, but we managed to come up with enough money to put on a nice ceremony for them. The only thing they will be told is that they need to get a nice outfit for a special occasion. We got the church involved. The pastor is going to say some nice things and have them re-exchange vows, the ladies of the church are all pulling together to help with food, I am ordering a cake (with writing on it…not a formal wedding tier cake), the invites have been sent out, we will have a slide show playing at dinner of special memories throughout their life, pics of their wedding day, and then we are going to invite guests to share a special memory they have had with my parents or say a few words to them. Yet, I still feel like I don’t have it all together. How do I keep all of this a secret and plan it all in just a few short weeks without the help of the “bride & groom” Do you think I am in over my head? Or maybe I am missing something vital that should be incorporated into the ceremony? Any advise or ideas that you could give me would REALLY help me out! I want this to be very special for them. Thank you so much for your time.
Remarriage Expert Answers:
You’re a very sweet, loving daughter to want to do this for your parents.
I typically suggest that vow renewals not be a surprise, usually because you’re not 100% certain that the couple really wants to do it and then once they are surprised, it’s hard for them to say (in front of friends and family) that they’d rather not. Plus, the vows are the centerpiece of the renewal ceremony and usually the husband and wife (not bride and groom) write these and they’re very personal to them.
Maybe you could leave the party as a surprise for them and tell them about the renewal so they can do the personal vows and plans themselves. Let them think it’s going to be a very small affair and then surprise them with guests and all of the things you mentioned in your post (which are all thoughtful ways of honoring your parents). Plan it like an anniversary party and you should be fine. The party doesn’t have to cost a lot money. Just incorporate all of those sweet gestures you mentioned and all of it is bound to touch the hearts of your parents and guests.
My family has been affected by cancer too, and I understand how important all of this is to you. I wish the best for you and your family.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:. “Write your worries in the sand and your blessings in stone”.
Reverend Susanna-Joining Hands and Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations : A Practical Guide for Couples:
What a wonderful, thoughtful thing for you to do! I will be married 25 years next year, and if my child did such a thing, I would be over the moon. Everything you are doing sounds perfect. The best ceremonies and events I have experienced were not the most expensive ones. They were the ones with all the personal touches — with lots of heart and soul. Given your Dad’s recent diagnosis of cancer, you might consider adding a prayer box. Just okay it with the pastor first. If he won’t allow it at the church (I can’t see why not), you may place it at the reception. You can tell your guests to prepare a prayer for your parents as a couple as well as for your Dad, and instruct them to bring it with them and place it in the prayer box. Tell them that given his recent diagnosis,this would give your Dad strength. You can decorate any box, mark it “Prayer Box for Mom and Dad”, and cut a hole in it to be like a mailbox. Later after the ceremony, in privacy, your parents can read these prayers. At low points that may occur during his treatment, they can read them again and again if they wish.
Blessings upon your Mom and Dad’s vow renewal.
Blessings upon you for your kindness and generosity.
Healing prayers for your Dad during this time.
Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary, Reverend Susanna! I hope you’ll have a wonderful celebration of that milestone.
The prayer box suggestion is genius! Perhaps send a piece of paper and directions with the invitations and ask guests to do their prayer ahead of time. Then you can offer it as a gift to the couple after the party so it’s not too much of a reminder at the party. I think people like to have a chance to think about these sort of things beforehand too.
Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette Now:
Great advice all around! Wonderful. Normally, I advise against “pot lucks” because the host provides the party. However, in your case, it appears that the entire church congregation is the host. This is so sweet.
I’m sorry your father has cancer and truly hope he will recover fully.