‘I Still Do’ – vow renewals with va-va-voom!

A lot of noise is (understandably) made about weddings – they’re the celebration of a union of love and the commitment to stay together forever, after all!

But what about celebrating that love again, a little or a long way down the line, with a ceremony that isn’t so common and (rather sadly, in my humble opinion) often overlooked: the vow renewal.

Vow Renewals, or ‘Recommitment Ceremonies’, as some people prefer to call them, are a chance to celebrate love again, but this time a love that’s been around the block a bit! A love that’s been road-tested – maybe to the extreme – and has come back strong. This is the celebration of a rooted, mature relationship; the trials and the triumphs; the resilience and the rewards.

‘I Still Do’ – vow renewals with va-va-voom! ~ Sussex celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony
Photo by Chino Rocha on Unsplash

So let’s look at some things you might want to think about if you are considering a vow renewal either now or in the future:

When is the best time for a vow renewal ceremony?

Many couples who have a vow renewal ceremony choose to have it to celebrate a significant anniversary. So whether it’s your tenth, twentieth, or the more ‘famous’ Silver Wedding (25 years), Ruby Wedding (40 years) or Golden Wedding (50 years) anniversary, it seems like a pretty good reason to throw a party!

However, it really doesn’t have to be for an anniversary. Sometimes, couples may choose to have one as part of the celebrations for a big birthday, or the birth of a child, or because they’ve been through a difficult patch and they want to reconfirm their love for one another.

I’ve conducted vow renewal ceremonies for people who are terminally ill and want to recommit before they say their final goodbye, and I’ve conducted vow renewal ceremonies for couples whose wedding was a tiny affair with masks on because of Covid and they wanted to celebrate their second anniversary in style.

In short, the best time for a vow renewal is when it feels right for you both.

What is a vow renewal ceremony?

Recommitment or vow renewal ceremonies are just that – a chance to recommit to a partner, and perhaps to exchange vows to show that commitment. These could be the vows that you said on your wedding day, or they could be new vows that you have written for the occasion.

Just like a wedding, your ceremony can be small and intimate or huge and wild. It can be just the two of you, or you may want to have your children or other close people there. Or you might want to invite 200 of your closest friends!

Start with ‘why’

As with any ceremony, before you start making any plans, the first thing to do would be to think about what is important to you about this vow renewal, what you want to say with it, and how you want to feel. In other words, find your ‘why’. I’ve written a whole other post about how to do this here.

As Simon Sinek famously says, ‘People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it’. OK so you’re not selling anything here but the principle is the same – when you start with your ‘why’, your whole celebration becomes much easier to plan as it will be clear who you will invite, where you will be and what you include. And that integrity will come across loud and clear to your guests as well.

Getting creative with your vow renewal ceremony

Some vow renewals are like a full-on second wedding, whereas others are small affairs in your garden or a local pub’s function room. There really is no right or wrong. What matters most is that it reflects you two and your ‘why’ and that it feels good to you both. So go all out with the wedding outfits (you could even wear the same ones you wore on your wedding day!) or rock up in your jeans but with a big open heart – it’s all good.

If your wedding was less than ideal (maybe your budget was too tight, it was pouring down all day, you felt pushed into having the day that your family wanted or for any other reason), why not create your ideal day now, however that looks for you?

Or, if you had a big white wedding, maybe this time you want to escape just the two of you or with some close friends and have a low-key vow renewal picnic somewhere beautiful?

Maybe you have children now that you didn’t have when you got married? If so, this could be a great opportunity to show them how much they mean to you and how they are part of your story.

There are some fabulous additions you can put into your ceremony, depending on the feel and the tone of your day and how they fit into your story. Whether it’s a handfasting, a sand pouring, or making a cocktail together, there’s so much choice! Take a look here for some idea starters.

For best results, hire a celebrant!

Well of course I’m going to say that(!) but it is very true. Working with a celebrant to create your dream vow renewal will mean that someone is there for you:

  • getting to know you both, your journey so far and your ‘why’
  • coming up with creative ideas that fit you and your story
  • writing a ceremony that is tailor-made for you and full of your personalities
  • helping you to write new vows if you need it
  • holding the space for you and your guests to celebrate your love
  • being the friendly face and warm voice that makes your ceremony feel amazing
  • making the day the perfect celebration of your togetherness

And of course, if you’re in Sussex or the surrounding areas and I’ve inspired you to go for it and have a vow renewal ceremony, do get in touch!