Renewal of vows- any advice??

cali4dawnMarch 24, 2005

I have been an events planner for years but have never hosted a renewal ceremony. I've been to a few and did not like the service. Has anyone here had experience with this?

We are thinking about doing this in 2 years. I'm just never satisfied with the vows portion. It seems like a rehash of the original vows and just feels inappropriate to me. I'm not at all comfortable with saying (or hearing), "Do you take blah blah to have and to hold blah blah...." I just don't think that fits a renewal.

Any suggestions? So far, I'm leaning toward not doing this at all because the wording is just all so uncomfortable for me.

I'm thinking just a blessing ceremony... something I've never seen but could probably conjure up and feel better about.

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If you haven't done a search on for "vow renewal ceremony," you might try doing one. (Be sure to use the quotation marks on your search phrase.) There are several differences between a vow renewal ceremony and an actual wedding. It sounds as if you have attended renewals where the couples (and their officiant) were unaware of the differences. You can write your own vows to reflect your own relationship and the things that you and your husband have gone through in the past. This makes it much more meaningful for both of you as well as for your guests.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2005 at 4:31PM
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There was a thread on this page called "re-taking the vows" with a lot of thoughts. See if you can find that one. I especially liked one poster's idea of "getting remarried" every year on their anniversary somewhere different (privately, though).

I agree with you; I am not entirely comfortable with these ceremonies (although I don't have a lot of experience with them). I think that after an elopement or similar circumstance, a second, public ceremony would be fine -- but I don't think that's what people mean when they talk about renewal ceremonies, is it?

What troubles me when I hear about these events is that no matter how hard I try to think generously about it, I can't help but wonder what the couple is trying to prove about their marriage, and why (except perhaps for a 50th or 60th anniversary). Vows are supposed to be permanent. So why do they need to be renewed? I wouldn't want people to wonder if the original vows had been broken or faded, or if my husband and I had just been through a rough patch, etc. -- or on the other hand, that we were just trying to relive our youth or get attention.

As you seem to have been thinking some of the same things, maybe you would be more comfortable simply having a fantastic anniversary party without any quasi-ritual to "renew" your perfectly good marriage vows. You can say all the wonderful things you want to say publicly in toasts to each other, you can wear a terrific party dress -- white, if you like; why not? -- and you can have all the flowers, champagne, and cake you please.

And of course you can have another honeymoon!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2005 at 5:21PM
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I ran a search a few months ago and just found the ideas that cause uneasiness in me.

gellchom- Those are pretty much my thoughts, also. I have a feeling that's what we'll end up doing. I just wanted some feedback. I don't know about other people... but my vows were meant to stick the first time. I think spending the cash on an awesome party would be much better.

As for the 2nd honeymoon, we're planning an Australian Cruise. The first time we went camping... Nice how life grows....

    Bookmark   March 25, 2005 at 5:37PM
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Gellchom, what you said struck a chord with me. I didn't realize it before, but all the people I've known who have had a ceremony to renew their vows were ones who'd recently been through a rough patch. Much better an anniversary party with great toasts, I guess.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2005 at 11:27AM
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I guess I'll add my two cents to this thread. My DH and I will be married for 25 years on June 21st of this year. I am planning an Anniversary party including a vow-renewal. (And we have not been through a rough patch in the sense that I think you meant).

Right now the plans are for this to be a backyard event with the guests attending in shorts and t-shirts. The ceremony participates (DH, myself, our 2 children and the offical (my brother-in-law)) will dress for the ceremony and will probably change afterwards.

I want to not really renew our vows, but to recognize the beauty of the marriage we've had over the past 25 years. I am married to the most wonderful man in the world. The next 25 will probably be much more difficult. I am chronically ill and my health will deteriorate as time goes on, this is why we are going this at 25 years rather than 50.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2005 at 8:52AM
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Actually, after my last post I realized I do have a question. We will send out the invitations to our Anniversary party with "No gifts please" at the bottom. However, I have Parkinson's Disease and everyone attending knows this. I've thought about putting something on there that says if you feel you must buy a gift, please donate to the National Parkinson's Foundation instead. I'd have to word it better than that, but you know how some people feel the need to bring a gift anyway and we really don't want or need anything material of any sort.

What do you think?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2005 at 9:00AM
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I've seen that done. I'm not going to have the wording 100% correct, but you'll get the gist:

In lieu of gifts, the couple would prefer donations be made to the (fill-in-the-blank) foundation.

Do you mind sharing the vows you will be using. That's the part I always feel uncomfortable with.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 10:04AM
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I'll be happy to share the vows...I'll post them when they are completed...

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 9:07AM
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CindyG1, I think your mental approach to your vows shows a great reason to have SOME sort of ceremony--and it's sort of too bad that our language doesn't really offer a neat catchphrase or term for "expressing our appreciation of the first part of our marriage, saying publicly to one another that we know the next half will automatically be harder and that we will continue to work toward a strong marriage inthe face those known difficulties, and the unknown ones."

"renewing our vows" is about a short & catchy as we can get, unfort.

And really, what is a wedding reception except, a big party!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 2:17PM
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I think we were just trying to recapture something we never had. Our wedding was a disaster. I am the one that tells bride's that no matter what happens, you're still married at the end of the day... don't let little (or big) mishaps let you lose focus of that. However, EVERYTHING that could go wrong did at our wedding. The minister messed up the entire service from beginning to end. We didn't have the service we wanted- not even close. She also forgot the communion supplies (something very important to us). She read the one verse from the bible we asked her NOT to read... in fact, I was emphatic about it.

The photographer (who came highly recommended) took pictures then disappeared from the face of the earth. We never got a single professional picture.

The DJ acted as though he had somewhere else to be.

The professionally ordered cake was not the flavor I asked for and tasted horrible- to everyone there. We had over 3/4 of it left over to throw away.

We just want a nice wedding like we deserve. However, I also feel that no matter what we do, we cannot replace the real thing and it's all a waste of time. We were cheated from a beautiful day and have no hopes of ever replacing it.

I am an events planner and I would never allow to happen to another couple what happened to us. It was absolutely horrendous. And we spent soooo much money- all for bad memories. I never ever pull out my wedding album.

(We just celebrated our 6th year)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 9:45AM
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Talley, Thankyou for your comments and you put it so eloquently....

Cali4dawn, I hope the vow renewal goes better than the wedding. But remember,if you got a good man..that's the really important part.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 8:27AM
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Cali4dawn, I'm so sorry to hear about your horrible day.

You spent the time and money and had the dream. Your support system let you down in every way. Having prepared successful events every day for the last six years, I'd imagine you have a right to finally enjoy some of the peace you see in your clients' satisfied faces - you probably even have the right contacts now to "guarantee" it.

When you find a theme (whatever combination of Anniversary and Renewal resonates for you), and sculpt a bit of that peace for yourself, I hope you'll let us know; I'm a sucker for a happy ending!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 2:55PM
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Thanks, imaginus. As soon as I can figure out what we want to do you're right... it won't happen again. So many people said it all went wrong because i was the bride and not there to tell them where to be and yada yada yada... (I'm very good at delegating without bossing)... but come on... do people have common sense or what???

I'm still thinking on what I want to do. It will be awhile. I'm just getting a jump start on it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 8:11PM
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I promised in this post to post my vows. Again, we didn't exactly do vows. My brother-in-law started the "ceremony" be announcing that we would basically recite our thoughts and feelings. He did a wonderful job. I don't have a copy of dh's words, but you'll get the idea from mine below. We had this party as a backyard picnic sort of thing, did the "ceremony" on our deck with microphones. It turned out beautifully. Really enjoyed it.

Here is what I said (names changed to protect our privacy)

My dearest John, 25 years ago, we stood at the alter together and pledged our commitment to each other. I remember standing there hoping we would be right for each other and that everything would work out for us. Little did I realize what a gem of a man I was marrying. We have had a wonderful twenty-five years together.

This ceremony would not be complete without the mention of our wonderful children. We were both elated at the birth of each of our children. And have continued to be very proud parents as they have each grown into wonderful human beings. And each has their special traits and personality. Dana is a beautiful young woman who has really blossomed with her education and Chinese language and cultural experience. And John has turned into a wonderful young man with the determination to learn to fly at 17.

But John, you have been a wonderful man, husband and father. No woman could ask for anything more. YouÂve put up with me for all these years and I know that has not been easy. I know that I can be demanding and difficult at times, but I have always loved you.

When we got married, we had nothing, except our love for each other. WeÂve both worked long and hard for everything we have today. We were only in our early 20Âs when we married and we sort of grew up together. But the most important thing we have that we have built is this marriage.

WeÂve had our good times and our bad. As I write this I try to think of our good times together, but I canÂt think of any in particular, because our entire marriage has been our good times.

Our next 25 years together promises to hold some unusual challenges for us both. But at this point IÂm certain we will make it through those challenges. Thankyou John, for all that youÂve meant to me.

I love you John Robert Smith and I always will.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 10:55AM
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Thank you for sharing. We still haven't decided exactly what we are going to do, but you provided very nice inspiration.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 11:20AM
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Once is enough. You have probably already said "'Till death do us part" .. I just don't see the need.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 12:59PM
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we are having a vow renewal this june. our 5 year anniversary is coming up so we are having the wedding i always wanted but never had.I've been married twice, but never had a wedding.we both feel that we will be together "till death do us part". (i have bipolar and my husband has stuck by me 110%,even though we've had some rough times.I honestly feel that we'll be together forever, and so does he).Both our parents, except my mom, have passed on. Neither of us have many family or friends to attend. Ours too, will be small, approx. 15-30 people. it will be an outdoor ceremony at a local park, with a reception at a local restaurant banquet room i have reserved.We are having a dj, dancing, etc. As for me, i am going to be wearing a white wedding dress (no veil). I am having a butterfly release after the ceremony in which all the guests release them. there is no law that says you can't wear a white wedding dress so why not "have it your way"? especially if i'm paying for the entire event. for cheap favors that can double as table decorations, check out i ordered small votive glass candle holders,(frosted),got 24 of them, for only 22.95, and they included personalized, clear stickers w/our names and wedding date. I am putting purple candles in them, to accent the colors of my wedding. Also, if you're like me and can't afford a band, how about hiring a singer? I am having john sines jr provide the ceremony music for my wedding, and at some point during the wedding, he's going to sing "when i said i do", by clint black, all while playing his acoustic guitar, for those of you that don't know him, he wrote "the black #3", a tribute to nascar driver dale earnhardt, after his death.he has opened for many top names, including, hank williams jr, alan jackson, travis tritt, and montgomery gentry, just to name a few. and, he is not expensive, and is very helpful in the planning and if problems come up. check him out at my budget is very small yet i am able to have a beautiful ceremony. good luck! ps..the dj is helpful as grandmother will be 83 this year, so he came up w/the idea of having a grandmother's dance, where he will introduce her over the microphone and then play her favorite song, and everyone can dance to it!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 5:25AM
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My husband and I are celebrating a 20th anniversary this year, and I am already gearing up to plan a big bash for the silver anniversary. I want some kind of ceremony because we never had a wedding. We didn't elope; it wasn't a last-minute thing, and both families were happy about the in-law-to-be. However, due to major dysfunctional family issues in my family, there is no way my parents would have shelled out cash for any kind of event where I was the center of attention. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage; we have both supported each other through PhD programs, and we recently bought our first home and got a puppy. When I was growing up, my parents were (for no particular reason) very disapproving of celebrations of any kind. Well, I want to celebrate now! I want a beautiful dress, a cake, a party, and the recognition and support of friends and family that is part of a wedding ceremony. We are both still relatively young (mid-forties), and want to celebrate the beginning of the next 25 years. Why is it so had to understand that some people want the same kind of celebration you were lucky enough to have had?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 4:59PM
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I think the issue is with the vows, not with the opportunity to celebrate a wonderful marriage and the future. If you write your own vows and include references to the past and make a promise to continue to love and cherish one another, that is what makes a vow renewal ceremony memorable. You are doing it for the right reason, not just to have a big party.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 6:40PM
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Personally, I think that renewal of vows can mean a lot of things for different people, it doesn't always follow a rough patch and all that. For my husband and I, we are planning on renewing our vows in 5 years (our 15th anniversary). For us, it is more a celebration of the love and life that we have shared, and re-affirmation of our feelings and committment to each other. We are going somewhere tropical and are taking our parents along to thank them for being there for us and supporting us from the beginning. We have definately come through a lot in our marriage, and maybe vow renewal isn't the right term to convey why most people have a new ceremony to celebrate their marriage. For us, an anniversary party just does not fit our vision of how we would like to commemorate and celebrate our marriage. Just my 2 cents to explain why a lot of people probably have 'vow renewal' ceremonies :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 7:48AM
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