I Still Do: How to Renew Your Vows in a Celebration of Love

Looking for a way to celebrate your loving and enduring marriage? While you can do it in traditional ways, such as with a party, a vacation, or special gifts, a vow-renewal ceremony is a unique and special way to reaffirm your love for each other. But when is the right time to renew your vows, and how do you go about doing this?

Why Renew? There are a lot of reasons to renew vows. You may want to do it for a special anniversary, to celebrate a milestone in life, or to get a second chance to have the big wedding you missed out on when you began your life together. A vow-renewal ceremony should be a special occasion, though, and it should not be repeated many times.

Is It a Second Wedding? While vow-renewal ceremonies share many aspects with weddings, they aren't official and have a few differences. Because a vow-renewal ceremony is not a legal event, you can have anyone officiate and may hold the ceremony just about anywhere. Attendants are often not a part of this ceremony, and many couples choose to limit the guest list to close friends and family. Gifts are often not requested, since these traditionally are meant to start a new couple off in their life. Children or friends may even choose to host the ceremony themselves. 

How Are Guests Invited? Renewal-ceremony invitations are similar to wedding invites, except that the wording is a little different. The wording is generally tweaked to read something like, "The honor of your presence is requested at the reaffirmation (or renewal) of the wedding vows of Mr. and Mrs. Smith." 

What Is Worn? Feel free to dress up for the occasion if you want. Brides sometimes choose to wear their old wedding dress (or a new one), but they can also choose anything from a cocktail dress or suit to a formal gown. To differentiate the ceremony from the earlier wedding, you may choose to wear a colorful dress. Accessorize with flowers in your hair, a fascinator, or a hat.

Are There Flowers? Like with any wedding ceremony, a renewal is a great place to decorate with wedding flowers. The bride should carry some sort of flower bouquet or wear a corsage. The groom and family members may also enjoy wearing a special boutonniere or corsage. Since the bridal party is usually smaller at a renewal ceremony, you can spend that money on flower arrangements for the location. If the ceremony will take place in a home, flowers provide an easy decorating tool. Place them to welcome guests, beautify bathrooms, decorate the cake table, and adorn the ceremony site. 

What Happens in the Ceremony? The officiant will likely offer a few remarks about the bridal couple, and friends or family may want to read a poem or sing a song. And, of course, you will exchange vows—usually personally prepared vows—and share rings. The rings may be new ones or even newly engraved original rings. Choose meaningful music to walk up and down the aisle to.

Can You Party? Of course you can party! This is a celebration of your love, so feel free to hold a whatever kind of reception makes you happy. It could be a full wedding reception or just a dinner with friends. If you want to personalize the celebration, try decorating with pictures from your first wedding or from throughout your long marriage. Toast the friends and family that have helped you throughout your years together. 

Renewing your vows is an intimate way to reflect on your years of marriage and celebrate it with those you care most about. And since the ceremony is so personalized, it will also reflect you as a couple and your unique love story.