I Do...Still - A guide to renewing your wedding vows

Couples renew their wedding vows for many reasons.  Sometimes it’s to commemorate a significant milestone, like 30, 40 or 50 years of marriage.  Often it is a chance to reconnect with family and friends you have known for many years. A reaffirmation ceremony provides an uplifting reason for long-time friends and extended family members to get together - (not just at funerals after a certain stage of life!). 

Wedding renewal ceremonies are a public display of commitment and affection between couples.  They are a wonderful way to reminisce and share all the good things which come from years of marriage.  Publically renewing your vows provides an opportunity to reaffirm why you made the right choice all those years ago.  It is letting the world know you married a mate for life.

If you are considering renewing your vows, congratulations!  What a wonderful way to honour your marriage.  Here’s how to go about it.

Because a vow renewal isn't a legally binding ceremony, you can choose whomever you like to officiate the ceremony.  A celebrant will guide you through the process and provide a sense of occasion and authenticity to your ceremony, however you can also get your children, a relative or close friends involved.

You’ll want to think about finding a venue, setting a date and developing a plan for your special occasion.  You might opt for an intimate renewal ceremony, inviting your immediate family and a few close friends, then going to a restaurant for a special dinner.  It might be more your style to throw a large party for friends and family.  Lock in a date, send invitations, organise your celebrant and decide how you want the ceremony to unfold.  That’s the practical side. 

The emotional side can be a rewarding process for you and your partner.  It is worth taking the time to put your reasons for loving your partner in writing, as the starting point for writing your vows. Discuss these with your partner and your celebrant.  You might include thinking about your family history and how you’ve both arrived at this point in your marriage. You may even recall the vows you said when you were first married and consider their relevance at this point in your lives.  Preparing your vows is an opportunity for both of you to affirm how you feel about your relationship, especially if the last time you exchanged vows was decades ago. 

Finally, anything goes when it comes to the ceremony.  After you've exchanged vows, you may want to exchange rings. They might be your original wedding bands updated with engravings of your reaffirmation date.  Inviting your children, close relatives and special friends to take part in your ceremony adds a lovely element to your occasion.  They might do readings, play music or participate in a ritual that is meaningful for your family.  Gifts may be exchanged after the ceremony, though this is not usually the case.  You will definitely want a photographer to capture your ceremony - a nice touch is also to display your original wedding photo album and a collection of family photos taken through the years of your marriage.

Vow renewal ceremonies aren’t only for couples marking a milestone anniversary. Maybe you were married in a different country and want to celebrate your marriage locally?  Some couples choose to reaffirm their marriage after coming through a difficult stage in their relationship, marking the occasion as a chance to start afresh.  It’s important to remember your reasons are valid and nobody’s business but your own.  If you want to reaffirm your vows, go ahead and do it! 

You might be surprised to see the effect your ceremony has on the people around you.  It was my honour to officiate my parents’ vow renewal ceremony on their 50th wedding anniversary.    It was a beautiful experience for us adult kids to be part of our parents’ ceremony.  It affirmed what wonderful role models our parents are and also their ability to keep their love alive.  They still hold hands all the time.