What is a Vow Renewal?

cuba wedding gazebo
••• A gazebo on a tropical isle overlooking the sea is a romantic and intimate spot for a vow renewal. Carol Cuddy.

A vow renewal is a ceremony where a couple publicly re-commits to their relationship by expressing enduring love for one another.

A sentimental rather than an official legal event, a vow renewal is a way for a couple to commemorate an important milestone, such as a major wedding anniversary or important personal milestone.

Vow Renewal on Vacation

If you want a romantic place for your vow renewal, consider a tropical destination.

More and more resorts that host weddings are also offering their services to couples who want to plan a vow renewal.

Much like couples planning a destination wedding, those having a vow renewal can avail themselves of the services of a resort's wedding planner. She can organize everything from the officiant to the flowers, the keepsakes to the videography. Like a destination wedding, you can choose to invite your closest friends and family to witness your vow renewal -- or keep the event intensely private.

Your Vow Renewal, Your Way

Couples who marry young often have a wedding heavily influenced by their parents, especially when they are the ones paying the bills. In a vow renewal, you can have the ceremony you always wanted. Since you'll be paying for it, this time you're free to do it your way.

It's not unusual for couples who had one type of wedding to deliberately arrange a vow renewal that doesn't resemble the original in the least.

Whether that means wearing matching Hawaiian shirts on a beach at sunset or reaffirming your love in a local church or synagogue, your vow renewal is an opportunity to imprint the event with your personal taste, creativity, and experience.

Is it Legal?

Since you are already married and in possession of a wedding license, your vow renewal does not require any additional paperwork and the ceremony need not be officiated by a recognized authority.

While many priests, ministers, and rabbis are glad to preside over this type of happy event, you can also have a judge, notary public, relative, or close friend do the honors.

At events where family and friends gather, some couples ask to have the Apache Wedding Prayer recited as they stand together in unity. Others prefer to write their own vows, using language that reflects upon their time together and milestones in the relationship.

Of course, you don't need anyone at all to officiate. Sweet, sincere words spoken in a warm, shared bubble bath can create as treasured a memory as a party that costs thousands of dollars. 

Vow Renewal Considerations

Ask yourselves these questions if you're considering a vow renewal. It will help you to figure out the type of celebrate that will suit you best and help with planning the event.

  • When do we want to renew our vows?
  • What kind of budget can we afford for a vow renewal?
  • Where do we want to have our vow renewal: home or away?
  • Who should officiate at our vow renewal?
  • Do we want to write and recite our own vows or use existing vows?
  • Who do we want to invite to our vow renewal? Will we need invitations?
  • Should we plan or having our children participate?
  • Do we want to record our vow renewal in photographs or on video?
  • Do we want to re-use our wedding rings or have new ones made?
  • Do we want to exchange gifts to commemorate this day?
  • What should we wear at our vow renewal?
  • Do we want particular music played at our vow renewal?
  • Should we have our vow renewal catered, or will cake and champagne suffice?
  • Do we want to include any special friends or memories from our wedding in our vow renewal?

Vow Renewal Do's and Don'ts

  • DO make things easy for yourselves. By celebrating at a hotel or resort, you can ask the resort's wedding planner to arrange the ceremony you want.
  • DON’T delay. Start planning early and request a group rate to make a stay more affordable for friends and family.
  • DO make sure that the resort will switch your festivities to an indoor venue if it rains.
  • DO take the opportunity to meet with your officiant beforehand and explain that you don't want a standard ceremony. Personalize your vow renewal by including personal remembrances and honoring those who have been important in your life together.
  • DO tell guests know that gifts aren't necessary. If they insist, you can suggest a donation to a charity you support.
  • DON’T plan on heels or fancy shoes for a beach ceremony. Go with a flat-bottomed shoe for her, “mandals” for him. And be sure to arrange for pedicures before the big day!
  • DO reserve some private time” for the two of you on the day of your ceremony, when you’'re a bride and groom again. Enjoy this day that marks your time together; you've earned it.