Etiquette on Renewal of Wedding Vows

by William McCoy

A vow renewal can be a casual, laid-back event for family and friends.

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Renewing your wedding vows is an opportunity to reconnect with your spouse, surrounded by those dearest to you, without the stresses common at weddings. Because a vow renewal ceremony isn't a legal ceremony, you can tailor the event to your tastes without much worry about what's proper etiquette and what isn't. Choose hosts and a setting that suit you, invite those around whom you feel comfortable and skip the gift registry.

Hosts and Venue

A variety of people can host the vow renewal, including you and your spouse, your children or a couple to whom you're close. Some people choose to have the event at a banquet hall, while others prefer the laid-back convenience of a backyard or a travel destination. The key is to pick a setting that has significance to you and your spouse. You don't need a formal officiant for the event; a friend or family member can take care of the proceedings, given that vow renewals aren't legally binding. During the ceremony, read your original wedding vows to each other or tweak them slightly to honor your years together.

Guests and Invitations

The etiquette of inviting guests to your ceremony is at your discretion. Some couples have the ceremony with just a few close family members, while others invite a large group of friends to partake in the joyous occasion. Unlike some weddings, you don't need to feel obligated to invite a large contingent from work. If you choose to distribute invitations, they should take a similar format to wedding invitations. For example, write "The honor of your presence is requested to attend the renewal of the wedding vows of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Williams." As with a wedding invitation, include the appropriate details and mail it six to eight weeks before the event.

Skip the Gift Registry

You shouldn't set up a gift registry to correspond with your vow renewal ceremony. Wedding website The Knot stresses that a vow renewal is a time to celebrate your life with your spouse, not upgrade your dish set. If people ask what to get you for the event, say that their presence is a gift in itself. For someone determined to buy something, suggest a donation made to a charity of your choice.

Reception and Thank-You Notes

It's customary to hold a reception after the vow renewal and, as with the renewal itself, the reception doesn't have to meet any specific requirements. It can be as simple as a backyard barbecue or as complex as a cocktail party at a reception hall with cake, drinks and dancing. It's proper etiquette to distribute handwritten notes of thanks to those who attend the event. As with wedding notes, aim to send them as soon as possible, but within a couple months.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.