Give yourselves the (second) best excuse for a holiday with a romantic vow renewal. Here’s the why, when and how.
So you’ve found your forever love, hosted an incredible wedding, and enjoyed a fabulous honeymoon. Ever wish you could do it all over again? Well the good news is, you can. A vow renewal is a symbolic way to celebrate your marriage, honouring what you’ve achieved together so far and then moving forward to the next exciting chapter. Not to mention a cracker excuse for a holiday.
Why & when should you renew?
The short answer is, why not? Whether it’s been one year or four decades, there are no rules when it comes to renewals. Maybe you had a budget wedding or even eloped ‘back then’ and want to party in style with your growing family. Perhaps you want to reaffirm your commitment after working through a few bumps along the road to martial bliss. It could be a significant anniversary or just a moment of pure emotion. Whenever the time feels right, go for it.
Get travel ready
Then comes the really fun part — choosing the location. If you don’t return to the scene of your original wedding, why not cross a dream destination off your bucket list. On a sun-kissed beach escorted by tropical breezes? Sounds divine. Deep in the rainforest serenaded by birdsong? Incredible. With the buzzing New York streetscape as your backdrop? Very cool. It all works for a romantic renewal. Also keep in mind that many hotels and resorts who specialise in weddings also offer rather tempting packages and deals for renewals.
Is it legal?
Sometimes called a reaffirmation ceremony, a vow renewal is not legally binding. Which is a major plus point. You’ve already signed the relevant paperwork and pulled together, and paid for, a wedding. So now you don’t have to worry about gifts, showers, and seating plans. You can also have your pick of locations as you won’t need to consider the local legalities.
The new (renewal) guest list
For destination vow renewals, most couples invite an intimate group of friends and family who they know will be happy to make the trip. For a close-to-home event you might want a bigger bash. Just remember, you’re not obliged to re-invite your entire guest list so reserve your Champagne and reception nosh for loved ones only. You can either send invitations yourselves or have your children ‘host’ the event and send the invites in their names.
And the dress code is…
Whatever you want it to be. Look to the location and tone of the event for a few clues. Do you want everyone in suits for your barefoot on the beach barbeque? Are you okay with thongs and denim at your elegant European soirée? And yes, the dress still matters. In any colour of the rainbow. If you want to keep your bridal gown in retirement, splash out on that ’but-I’ve-got-nowhere-to-where-it’ beauty you’ve been eyeing off all year instead. An armful of fresh blooms is still your best accessory. Maybe just pass on the veil this time around — and leave the bouquet toss for newlyweds.
Here comes the bride
When it comes to who walks you down the aisle, if you even have an aisle, it might be your parents, children or even close friends. Or you can agree to meet in the middle with no attendants.
How does the ceremony work?
The renewal is usually officiated by a family friend or one of your children, but you could also enlist the help of an MC or priest. They will say a few words about you as a couple and your story so far and then there might be a reading or short speech from one of the other guests. Then the designated ‘officiant’ will ask you to recite your new vows.
Say it with me
Just like your original vows, your renewal doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer-Prize winner or totally hilarious. So dial down your public speaking/speech writing anxiety. Simple, honest and heartfelt works best. Maybe throw in a funny anecdote if it feels comfortable. Matt Damon, who renewed with wife Luciana in 2013, reportedly quipped “One of my vows was, I gave her the side of the bed closer to the bathroom. And if I don’t stick to that, I’m gonna hear about that from my mom, brother and father.”
What about the ring?
While there is no traditional ring exchange in a vow renewal, maybe try a blessing of your current rings, a new engraving, or a Celtic handfasting ritual instead. If that doesn’t cut it, it might be time to invest in an eternity ring or earrings to complement your existing sparkle. Fingers crossed!
Whether it’s immediate family only or a cast of thousands, it’s now time to celebrate with your tribe. Feel free to include reception fixtures including fancy canapés, Champagne toasts, teary speeches, and a decadent cake. Actor Alec Baldwin playfully told <E! News> his renewal to wife Hilaria on their fifth anniversary was “an excuse to have cake and wine.” Well it’s not the worst excuse we’ve heard. “Basically we wanted to have a party and we wanted our friends to come,” said Hilaria. Well said. Music is also key and a few tracks from your original wedding playlist will fill the dance floor (yes you want a dance floor, especially if it’s made of sand!) while a photo or video montage is always a sweet talking point.
Renewals tend to bypass most of the “who pays for what” pitfalls. Basically you take care of your travel and accommodation as well as the ceremony and reception. If guest transport is needed to and from the ceremony site, this usually goes on your tab too. If you’re having a bridal party, you’re not obliged to pay for their outfits but be fair about what you expect. They don’t have to be new, expensive or matchy-matchy.
Guests pay for their own transport, accommodation and most extras at the hotel or resort including room service and spa treatments. Pre- and post-ceremony festivities are a little trickier and some couples will cover the costs of at least one special group activity (see below).
Guests won’t be obliged to give you presents (and bye bye traditional bonboniere). However, you could pick up a few travel-friendly gifts from your chosen destination. Or book a memorable group activity such as a sunset cruise or farewell lunch as an extra ‘thank you’ to your incredible friends and family.
The best bit
Did we mention it’s the best reason for a holiday. Ever. Well, after your honeymoon of course. So why wait…
Header image: Studio B Photography Blog