Planning a Vow Renewal Ceremony: A Step-By-Step Guide

Groom reading vows at ceremony

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People choose to renew their wedding vows for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps your marriage, once rocky, has flourished since your past troubles, you've both weathered the storm and are ready to take your love to the next level. Maybe all of your friends and family couldn't be there the first time around. Or it could be that the actual wedding day turned out to be, er, not so special. At any rate, you two are in love, more than ever, want to rekindle the old flame, and can't wait to tackle life's next chapter together. Congrats!

What Is a Vow Renewal?

A wedding vow renewal ceremony or wedding vow reffirmation ceremony is a ceremony in which a married couple renew or reaffirm their marriage vows.

Here's how to plan a vow renewal ceremony to celebrate your union and reinforce your matrimonial bond.

01 of 06

Pick A Date

Couple looking at calendar
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Much like your wedding day, the date on which you choose to renew your vows could be a significant one—on a wedding anniversary, birthday, or another momentous occasion, perhaps—but it doesn't have to be. When planning the date, take the opportunity to check on the availability of your VIP guests (this might not have happened the first time around) and choose the day accordingly. A ceremony in the middle of the week, for example, might garner many "cannot attend" responses because most people have obligations.

02 of 06

Choose The Site

Wedding guests talking at venue.

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For a romantic spin on your vow renewals, you could return to the place where you were originally married—a destination location is also fair game. Keep in mind that if folks couldn't travel to your first wedding you’re once again, drawing a proverbial line in the sand. If you're concerned attendees won't be able to make it this time either, then try choosing a site closer to home and do your best to recreate the original celebration. Otherwise, pick a place that's meaningful to the two of you—the park where you picnic on Sundays, the restaurant where you shared your first date, or the church you attend together, for example.

03 of 06

Consider Vows

Groom reading vows at ceremony
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If you two wrote your own vows (and you saved a copy), then dig them out of storage and make use of them again. Otherwise, playing back your wedding video will reveal exactly what was said. Consider repeating your original vows, but don’t feel you're limited to the words you spoke back then. Adding and including new sentiments to past vows and/or writing brand-new vows are equally thoughtful ways to restate your love.

04 of 06

Find An Officiant

Friends shaking hands
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It's possible that the priest, rabbi, clergyman (or another sort of officiant) who married you the first time might still be able to officiate again. If not, inquire with a nearby church, synagogue, or other houses of worship; for a formal civil service, seek a judge or other qualified official.

If you're planning a more intimate, laid-back ceremony, ask a friend or relative to officiate by preparing an introduction, followed by your recitation of the vows.

05 of 06

Invite Guests, Or Not

Wedding guests hugging
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Just as one would do before any wedding, a vow renewal predicates the extension of invites to relatives, friends, and co-workers. Send out save-the-dates six to eight months before the big day. Typically, you'll want to mail invites six to eight weeks before the date—and earlier (roughly three months before) if you're planning a destination vow renewal ceremony. RSVP deadlines should correspond with the week before headcounts are needed by the caterer. Be sure to inform guests of the dress code, no matter how lax. Alternatively, you and your spouse can renew your vows privately, for just you two—and skip all the complicated (and expensive) wedding-style rigmarole.

06 of 06

Celebrate

Group eating dinner
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Like a wedding, the celebration (aka reception) proceeding a vow renewal ceremony, can be as large and lavish and/or intimate and modest as you prefer. Follow it up with dinner for two at your favorite restaurant, hire a band and rent a banquet hall, or host a fun backyard barbecue.

The important thing is to never lose sight of why you're renewing your vows in the first place: to show your continuing commitment to one another. Planning a vow renewal ceremony is a beautiful way to strengthen your marriage bond, remember what your wedding day actually meant to you both, and to commemorate the time you've spent together.

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