Vow Renewal Guide

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Vow Renewal Guide

Everything you need to know about “I do” number two.

Photo: Elizabeth Messina

The first time you exchanged vows, chances are you were a bit nervous about what was to come. Now the jitters are gone, making this walk down the aisle even more exciting than the first time around. Celebrate the life you’ve built together with a personalized reaffirmation ceremony that’s all about you as a couple. And this time, invite the kids!

Pick a starting point
You don’t have to know every detail of what you want your special day to be like, but you should have a few ideas. Choose your must-have elements from the get-go, whether it’s the song you danced to at your wedding or a special reading that has personal significance. Also, think about your life together. If you’re religious, you might want to renew your vows in a house of worship. Or, if you both love the outdoors, consider a beach or garden ceremony.

Find an officiant
Unlike your wedding, there’s no need for legal paperwork. This ceremony is simply about your love for each other and the bond you share. If you’re more comfortable having a friend or family member officiate, ask that person if they’d be willing to help out. Another option is to hire an officiant the same way you would with a regular wedding. Ask around for recommendations, or check out officiants’ websites. You can also ask your religious leader to perform the ceremony. Remember: This day is all about you, so pick someone who’s going to fit in with your personality as a couple.

Discuss your vows
This is the whole point of the day, so don’t leave your vows until the last minute! Talk to each other early in the planning process about what type of vows you’ll exchange. Some couples prefer to re-create their wedding by using traditional vows, while others write more personal reaffirmations. One idea we love: Write letters to each other about what your life together means to you and how you see your future. If that’s not your style, consider reciting a meaningful poem. Of course, you can always cheat by clicking on GhostWords.com or InstantVows.com to download some instant inspiration (some websites actually write the vows for you using the info you provide!).

Plan your party
Your wedding party, that is! While there’s no rule saying you can’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen, most vow renewals tend to be more about the couple. Consider asking your children to participate in key tasks, like holding the rings or walking you down the aisle (unlike your first “I dos,” it’s not exactly kosher for your dad to give you away). You can also walk together as a couple as a symbol of your journey together. If you want to include your sister, brother, or best friend in the ceremony, that’s okay too -- just don’t go overboard with, say, a dozen bridesmaids.

Go ring shopping
Or don’t. You already have rings, obviously, so it’s totally fine to just slip those off for the ceremony and re-exchange them after reciting your vows. Some couples keep their rings on the entire time and simply hold hands, which is another way to go. If you want to commemorate an anniversary or have a visual reminder of your continuing love and commitment, consider purchasing new rings to wear along with or in place of your original weddings bands. For women, this could mean a diamond eternity ring, while men might prefer a thicker or thinner band in an alternate metal.

Create your guest list
Reaffirmation ceremonies tend to be on the smaller side (50 people or less), but there’s no hard rule. If you had a smaller wedding the first time around (or eloped!), you might want to throw a big bash -- and that’s perfectly okay. If an intimate affair is more your style, invite your closest family and friends to a private ceremony and then head to your favorite restaurant afterward. Even a backyard barbecue can be a fun way to cap off the evening! You don’t have to treat this like a traditional wedding just because vows are involved, so get creative and don’t be afraid to go casual.

Choose your attire
Your best bet: Choose a dress that fits the vibe of your ceremony. If you’re exchanging vows in a park, go for a light, airy gown in a bright shade. Saying “I still do” in a loft? Modernize your bridal look with a short dress. Generally, veils are a major no-no, as are long, white dresses (read: don’t try slipping into your old Vera Wang). When it comes to the guy’s style, it’s all about matching your wife. Complement her sundress with a pair of crisp khakis and a button-down, or balance out her evening gown with a classic tux.

Dive into (some) details
Bouquets, and favors, and cake -- oh my! Okay, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but here’s the deal: Have fun with the little extras, but don’t let them stress you out. This is one day where you get to choose exactly what suits you, so if bouquets aren’t your thing, don’t carry one. On the other hand, if you absolutely love cake, treat your guests to a three-tiered confection in your favorite flavor. This is a fun time when you should be focusing on your spouse and your marriage, so do what makes you happy and leave the other stuff out.

Special thanks to Tulis McCall, wedding officiant (WeddingsbyTulis.com)

-- Caitlin Moscatello

See More: Remarriage