No matter if you’ve been married for two, 10 or 20 years, renewing your wedding vows is a lovely, romantic thing to do. From reliving the happiest day of your life, to creating brand new memories, a vow renewal ceremony is a great way to reaffirm your love for one another once more, as well as making new promises for your life together going forward.
Chances are, if you’re planning a vow renewal, you loved the wedding planning process the first time around – but a vow renewal is a whole different kettle of fish to a wedding ceremony – firstly, it’s less steeped in tradition, so there are less rules to follow. Your vow renewal is free of the constraints of a wedding (it holds no legalities, for example), so it’s up to you what your vow renewal ceremony is like.
Read on for everything you need to know about planning your wedding vow renewal.
Reasons to Renew Your Wedding Vows
There’s a whole host reasons why people renew their wedding vows. Aside from it being a romantic way to celebrate your love for one another all over again, lots of people choose to renew their vows to mark an important anniversary be it one year (yes, really!), 10 years or 20 years.
Some couples choose to renew their vows after overcoming something big in their relationship, be it an illness, a big relocation or a rocky patch. In these circumstances a renewing your vows proves to one another you still mean the words you spoke all those years ago, and shows you’re still committed to making things work between you.
A very common reason people renew their wedding vows is because they were unable to afford the wedding of their dreams when they first got married, and a renewal ceremony gives them the chance to do it all again; maybe you could only afford a registry office wedding when you first got married and now want to have a big celebration with all your friends, or perhaps you first wedding was controlled by your family, and now years down the line you want to do one just for you.
Sometimes people feel sad their children weren’t at their wedding, so a vow renewal gives your little ones a chance to be involved in the day and allows you to make new and totally different memories of your wedding day.
What Happens in Vow Renewal Ceremonies?
Unlike the traditional wedding ceremony, vow renewal ceremonies have no legalities, so can take whatever form you want.
Some couples hire a celebrant, while others ask their friends to conduct the ceremony. TV presenter Emma Willis and her husband Matt had their friend fellow presenter Stephen Mulhern lead their vow renewal on their tenth anniversary, so you really can do as you please!
Obviously, the actual vows are central to a vow renewal, but it’s up to you if you repeat your original vows or write entirely new ones to reflect where you are in your life now.
Lots of couples like to reference relationship milestones in their vows, from children they’ve had, struggles they’ve overcome and memories they’ve made. Changing your vows to make them personal will add an extra sentimental element to your day that might have been missing from your first wedding.
You can pick the music, readings and poetry for your vow renewal; whether you want the same ones from your original wedding, or new updated songs, is up to you.
Having the same music will no doubt bring back happy memories, while choosing a new soundtrack will create new ones – a mixture of original and new music could be a happy medium!
As we mentioned, some people choose to have a vow renewal because they want their children to be a part of their wedding memories, so it’s common for children to play a key part in vow renewal ceremonies, from walking you down the aisle, to making readings.
Another popular option for walking down the aisle at vow renewals is walking down together. We love this idea, signifying you’re united in every way.
Alternatively, you could walk down the aisle with friends who have supported you throughout your marriage, for a sweet touch.
Of course, if you want to walk down with your father again and he is keen, feel free to do that!
Where can You Hold a Vow Renewal Ceremony?
Because a vow renewal is not a legal ceremony, you can hold it wherever you like.
Some couples opt to have it at the same ceremony as their original wedding, which is a lovely trip down memory lane for both you and your guests.
If you got married at a large venue and want to choose somewhere more personal this time, you could hold your vow renewal at home in your garden, or hold it somewhere significant to the two of you, such as the place you got engaged or the place you first met. Just remember that if you want to have your vow renewal in a public place you need to check if permission is required.
Who to Invite to Your Vow Renewal
Unlike with a wedding, you shouldn’t feel like you have to invite anyone – there’s less pressure to invite extended family, for example.
We think a guest list made up of people who have supported you in your marriage so far is a lovely idea – just because someone was your bridesmaid the first time around, there’s no rule saying you have to have them at your vow renewal; you could have grown apart for any number of reasons.
It can be nice to have just your partner and your children at your vow renewal, for an extra intimate occasion.
If you want to go all out with your vow renewals, you could host a reception afterwards and invite a wider selection of people from your original nuptials. Decorate with photos from your wedding for a nostalgic element – people will love looking back at photos from years gone by, especially if you’re holding you vow renewal a long time after your wedding.
Do You have Bridesmaids at a Vow Renewal?
This one is up to you – we’d say the majority of people don’t have a bridal party at their vow renewal, as it tends to be a more intimate affair, but if you’re looking for an excuse to get your besties back together, then go for it!
Keep in mind though, they might not be keen on wearing their same bridesmaid dress all these years on – if they even still have it, for that matter!
A fun idea could be that your bridesmaids wear the same colour they wore at your wedding, but have free reign over dresses. Remember that they might not be as willing to be involved as they were at your first wedding – it’s a big ask for people to pay for bridesmaid dresses all over again, after all.
It’s reasons like this that a lot of couples keep their renewal ceremony a lot more low key than their wedding.
Ring for Wedding Vow Renewals
The ring exchange is a big part of the wedding ceremony, so the question is, what do you do at a vow renewal when you’ve already been wearing your wedding ring for however many years?
Some couples choose to rededicate their rings, while others add an inscription to their ring – maybe the date of their vow renewal, or simply each other’s initials.
Another option is to exchange eternity rings at your vow renewal; an eternity ring is given as a symbol of lasting affection, typically set with an unbroken circle of gems, to symbolise long-lasting love.
Ethical jeweller Lebrusan Studio has a gorgeous range of eternity rings that are enough to make us book our vow renewal in ASAP!
What to Wear to Renew Your Wedding Vows
There’s no dress code when it comes to what to wear to renew your wedding vows; some brides choose to wear their wedding dress again, as Emma Willis did, saying: “”I think it’s just quite nice to wear it again if you can, or just customise it.”
If your wedding was many years ago and your dress is a little, ahem, dated now, you could look into customising your gown to make it more fitting for a modern wedding, or buy a new formal outfit for the occasion.
If you’re holding a vow renewal because your original wedding was low key, there’s no reason not to go all out at your vow renewal, wearing a gorgeous wedding dress. Check out our edit of simple and chic wedding dresses that we think would work perfectly for a vow renewal.
If you’re an older bride, renewing your vows after many happy years together, one of our wedding dresses for mature brides might be just what you’re looking for.