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In this day of high divorce rates, some couples are choosing to renew vows as often as yearly, as a reminder to of the pledges they made to each other. While some vow renewals are simple affairs involving only the couple, others are grand, festive occasions with as many guests as the original wedding. For some guests, this brings up some questions regarding what proper protocol is when it comes to gifting the couple.
To Gift or Not to Gift
Typically smaller and less formal than the original wedding, the vow renewal ceremony has different conventions than the original marriage. It is customary for guests to bring gifts to newlyweds because you are supposed to be helping them set up their new home together. In a vow renewal, there is no such purpose. Presumably, the couple reaffirming its love already shares a home.
Milestone Anniverary Renewals
Most times, a couple chooses to renew vows on one of the milestone anniversaries. It is not uncommon for a couple to host a celebration on the 10th, 25th or 50th wedding anniversary. When a vow renewal occurs on such an auspicious occasion, it is not uncommon for guests to want to bring a token gift to help the happy couple celebrate. Typically, these gifts relate back to the traditional designations for the number of years married. As an example, a 25th anniversary is the silver anniversary, so gifts of silver would be appropriate.
No Gifts, Please
Although vow renewals are increasingly common, your guests may be unclear as to what is proper. While it is considered gauche to make any mention of gifts on a wedding invitation, it is perfectly acceptable to include a line asking for no gifts on a wedding vow renewal invite. Including this information is neither impolite nor tacky; it helps the uninitiated guest understand what is expected.
Some people are of the mindset they must bring something to any function to which they are invited. Unfortunately for those guests, the couple renewing the vows would not have a registry anywhere, indicating what kinds of gifts they would like to receive -- so choosing something appropriate is left up to the guest himself. In situations such as this, consulting a guide to the traditional wedding anniversary designations is the safest bet.
Minding Your Manners
If you have a vow renewal and despite your best intentions and efforts not to receive gifts, your guests present you with them, proper etiquette dictates you thank them promptly. A formal thank-you note is in order and should be handwritten. If your vow renewal is a large affair, follow the standard timeline for wedding thank-you notes, and make sure you send them out within three months of the affair.
- Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images