5 Things to Know When Planning Your Vow Renewal

A woman wearing a lace wedding dress and holding a paper with her vows on them.

There comes a time in every married couple’s life when they consider renewing their vows. Maybe they’ve just hit a major milestone, like a 50-year anniversary. Maybe they’ve just made it through a particularly difficult time in their lives and they want to celebrate by reaffirming their commitment. Maybe they just want to have a party with all their friends and family!

Whatever the reason, a vow renewal can be a very fun and romantic way to celebrate your love and commitment for your spouse. However, if you decide to throw this kind of shindig, there are a few things you need to know. Here are some tips that will help you plan a vow renewal ceremony that everyone will appreciate.

1. It’s Not a Second Wedding

The first thing you need to remember is that your vow renewal ceremony is NOT your wedding. While weddings tend to be grand, extravagant affairs draped in pomp and circumstance, vow renewals are meant to be intimate, personal affairs with a much more laid-back vibe. This is a big distinction that will impact every part of the planning process, so it’s important to set your expectations right from the start.

Of course, you can have some wedding-inspired elements in your vow renewal; you can carry a bouquet, you can wear white (but not a wedding dress), and you can have the renewal ceremony in a church if you so choose. But these elements should still be more relaxed and casual than your standard wedding ceremony. Keep this in mind as you plan and try not to go overboard—no one wants to deal with a vow renewal bridezilla!

2. But a Reception Is a Must!

An older man and woman sitting at a table at their vow renewal reception.

Your vow renewal may not be a second wedding, but it IS an opportunity to celebrate your marriage with all your family and friends. Therefore, it is important to plan a reception for all your nearest and dearest! This gives your loved ones a chance to congratulate you and your spouse on your vow renewal, celebrate your love and commitment for each other, and have a great time at a party—everybody wins!

But remember: your vow renewal should be more personalized and laid-back than a traditional wedding, and the reception should follow suit. Instead of a massive, catered meal at an opulent venue, consider making reservations at your favorite restaurant or having a BBQ at your home. A casual reception will be just as much fun (possibly even more, if you choose a venue or type of food that’s significant to you and your spouse).

3. E-vites Are OK

Online invitations have gotten a bad rap over the years, being called “too casual” and unsuitable for important events. Thankfully, many couples are seeing the benefits of e-vites (they’re cheaper, they’re paperless, they make keeping track of your guest list simple) and starting to use them for all kinds of parties, from baby showers to graduations and—you guessed it—vow renewals.

Even if you’ve always thought that e-vites weren’t formal enough, it’s time to take a look at the wealth of options available to you online. There are many companies out there with beautiful, customizable templates you can use to create the vow renewal invitation of your dreams. Then, just send them off to your friends and family; there’s no need to pay for postage AND you can manage your guest lists right there on the invitation website.

4. Gifts Are Optional

When a couple gets married, people tend to buy them gifts that will help them establish their new home and their new life together. This is why the most common wedding gifts are household items like kitchen appliances and linens—things that you and your spouse, as a married couple who’ve been together for a while, probably have in spades.

Traditionally speaking, a vow renewal is not a gift-giving event. You and your spouse don’t necessarily need anything to establish your home, so there’s not exactly a need to register for gifts. In fact, most party planners discourage couples from making a registry for a vow renewal! If someone decides to bring you a gift, that’s very sweet (and they definitely deserve your heartfelt thanks and a note after the party), but don’t expect everyone to come bearing a present.

5. Just Have a Great Time

A reception at a vow renewal.

It can be so easy for couples to get overwhelmed when they’re planning a vow renewal. Honestly, it can be easy for couples to get overwhelmed when they plan any party—social expectations and party planning logistics get to even the best of us. But when you plan a vow renewal, it’s important to remember what the party is all about: you, your spouse, and the love that you share.

Don’t worry about everything being perfect. Don’t worry about whether or not the party meets people’s expectations. Don’t worry about anything! Just relax and have a great time with the love of your life. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters at your vow renewal.

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