We never scoff at more parties. Bring on the parties, amirite?! In this case, we're talking about vow renewals as your second party. Or maybe vow renewals as an intimate promise between just you and your partner. Either way, there's so much more flexibility and freedom with vow renewals that it's hard not to get excited about the possibilities. Want to know how to plan a vow renewal? Here are our non-rules for doing it up renewal-style.
Just like with wedding planning, you'll want to decide the scope of the event: will it be a large party or a small affair with just close friends and family? Maybe you'll renew your vows with just your own family unit, whoever that contains. Don't feel limited because you may have already planned a big wedding. There are no rules that say you can't go big again. Just like we don't want stigma to dictate your second wedding dress, we don't want you to feel obligated to keep things small for the sake of how it looks to others. You do you, in whatever way celebrates the fact that you're making it work!
Use it as a lessons-learned event
If you were unhappy with elements of your wedding, you can use your vow renewal as an opportunity to try out something new or plan the event in a more personal way. We've talked about this issue specifically including being more authentic to yourself, sharing less during planning, and accepting budget issues ahead of time. Take your vow renewal as a chance to stretch your legs with less nerves about the relationship itself, hopefully!
Go super offbeat, if that's your thing
Vow renewals come with far less “rules” than weddings, so take advantage of that freedom. Choose a fun theme, go super nerdy, or go for a destination ceremony in a place you've always wanted to visit. Have a unity ceremony that you never thought you could do in a traditional wedding (unity sandwich, anyone?!). You'll probably experience far less in the way of expectations than a first-time wedding.
Here's how Kjirsten and Bruce viewed their renewal:
Our first wedding was traditional (church, white dress, random relatives we didn't really know, etc.). We decided to do our 20th anniversary re-vow the way we'd always wanted: a medieval-style handfasting with some Pagan elements, and a big knees-up.
We had a maypole, piñatas, everyone came in costume, and our sons, mates, and dogs were in the wedding party. In a way, it was more meaningful than our original wedding. Anyone can make promises, but keeping them “through thick and thin” takes a whole lot more effort.
Use it as a “get-weddinged” opportunity
If you had a small wedding, eloped, or otherwise just made it official without much fanfare, you can totally use a vow renewal as your getting-weddinged party (aka a party where you celebrate an already legal marriage). You may find that lots of your guests were hoping to celebrate your love in a big way and you'll be giving them that chance. Is this required? Hell no. Can it be fun? Oh hell yes.
Don't feel pressured to register for gifts
Vow renewals can often be a time to go lean with budget and opt not to get more gifts by way of a registry. You totally can, but you're definitely not obligated, especially if you're already established.
Don't feel pressured to have any pre-parties
In the same way a lack of a registry may be a relief for cash-strapped guests, pre-parties aren't likely to be expected or required. Feel free to keep things streamlined and have one event.
Ask someone you love to officiate
While you can certainly ask a clergy member or official representative to officiate your vow renewal, it's not legally binding and can therefore be delegated to anyone you like. You can ask a close friend, someone who can pull off a hilarious monologue, or a family member without any official certification.
Include your kids, if you have them
If you have had kids since you were married, you can include them in your ceremony and/or vows. Reaffirming your love with your whole family is a pretty rad sentiment. You can have them read sweet and silly readings from kids books and/or include them in the vows themselves. Check out our whole archive of family vows.
Be flexible with your vows
Since you're coming at this from another perspective, you can go a little off-the-beaten-aisle with your vows, too. Here's what Jessica said about her and Lantrel's ceremony:
The term “vow renewal” is not exactly what we followed. My husband listed all the things he loves about me, like how I make the best chocolate chip cookies, and I decided to let him know that, although I went into our first wedding day with my eyes closed, I could not have made a better decision. It was sweet and simple.
Need vow ideas? We have tons. Go a'lookin'!
More vow renewal advice
Who's excited to start planning their own vow renewal? Tell us about it in the comments!