I recently had the pleasure of photographing a vow renewal of a couple in their 80s. It’s so inspiring to see a couple still happily married years after their first “I do.” A Vow Renewal can be a really sweet and great way to renew the marriage. Some couples prefer a quiet ceremony with just the two of them, but others prefer to have a party along with the renewal. Both are great options if you’re interested in re-committing to each other.
When is a Renewal appropriate?
An anniversary milestone
Celebrating your 10 year anniversary? 15? 20? 30? That’s the perfect time for a vow renewal. Some would argue that 5 years is a bit too early, but it is still a milestone, so it’s acceptable! If you can’t do it on the milestone for whatever reason (interfering with another wedding, illness, absence, etc) then you can do it off of the milestone year.
Anytime past the age of 70
If you’re over 70, you don’t need to wait for a milestone because you’ve had plenty already! Plus, at that age, you’ve most-likely been with your partner for a long time, so a renewal at anytime is fine.
There are no other weddings happening
If you’d like a big party for your vow renewal, but there’s another wedding going on in your family or in your small group of friends, it’s not the right time (even if you’re celebrating a milestone). It’s the other couple’s time for the spotlight, so you need to let them have their moment. So, if a wedding has occurred or will be occurring within a year of your renewal (and you want to make it like a second wedding), then hold off. If you’re just having a private renewal on the beach and no party element though (or if you’re over 70 years old), then it’s fine to do at anytime.
Are guests required to bring gifts?
The short answer is “no.” The purpose of wedding gifts is to help the couple start their life together and to provide supplies for their new home. Since a renewal couple has already been living together, the couple shouldn’t expect gifts. That being said, if you wish to give a gift as a guest, you certainly can. Focus on sentimentality versus functionality. For example, have a print made of their wedding picture or a photo album of their lives together thus far.
Is the couple required to provide a meal to guests?
If a party or reception element is part of the renewal, then it’s a good idea to provide food of some sort. Appetizers are perfectly acceptable though! It’s also fine to invite everyone to a restaurant. As long as you’re clear about it being “dutch treat” up front, then you can all have a meal together without you paying for the bill.
Is a vow renewal a second wedding?
No, but it can still be a big party, though! Some people do make it like a second wedding, especially if their first wedding was smaller than they had originally wanted. Though this is done, be aware that some guests may look at a second wedding negatively especially if it’s really like a full wedding. In those cases, some people may think the renewal is for a purpose other than the desire to re-commit (such as trying to get gifts). A vow renewal is only appropriate if you wish to focus on the commitment of your marriage. As long as that’s clear, that’s what matters.
Should I wear a wedding dress?
You don’t have to, but some women prefer to (it’s always fun to get to wear a wedding dress!). It’s pretty common to see episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” where women are picking out wedding dresses for their renewals. So, you certainly can wear a wedding dress, and you could even wear your original wedding dress if it still fits. You can also wear any dress you’d like. The dress doesn’t need to be white either. Wear whatever you feel beautiful in!
Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.