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Etiquette for vow renewals

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What is a vow renewal and why do couples choose to have one? • How do the ceremony and vows for a renewal or affirmation differ from the ceremony for a wedding? • How formal should the event and attire be? • What about flowers and other decorations?  • Should there be attendants? • What should the invitations say? • What reception traditions from the wedding are appropriate for a renewal reception? • How can couples involve their children and families? • Songs/readings that are especially vow-renewal-appropriate? • What about other diplomatic concerns?  • What about gifts? • Renewal of Vows Example 1  • Renewal of Vows Example 2  • Renewal of Vows Example 3 • Renewal of Vows Example 4 • Renewal of Vows Example 5


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My parents want to renew their marriage vows and I need to find out some information on certain areas of the wedding.  First of all what is the etiquette for renewal of vows as far as the ceremony and reception goes.  Second my sister wants to give my mom a bridal shower, how do we go about doing it since my mom has a home with everything in it.  Third, how do we word the invitation because my mom wants to put all our names on it including her grandchildren. And Finally are there any websites regarding renewal of vows.


Honoring your parents with a vow renewal ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate their marriage.
A vow renewal ceremony is somewhat different from a wedding because the couple is already married.  To find information about planning such a ceremony and the etiquette involved, visit then choose the link for vow renewal ceremony.

Planning a Vow Renewal Ceremony

A vow renewal ceremony is a special way to declare your continuing commitment to your spouse before family and friends.  The ceremony can occur any time after your original wedding ceremony.  Couples who eloped or had a “destination” wedding may choose to renew their vows shortly after the original wedding at a gathering for family and friends.  Others may choose to renew their vows on a special anniversary, such as the 10th, 15th, or 25th.  Since the couple is already married, there are differences between a vow renewal ceremony and a wedding.  Following are some of the differences to consider:

  •  Since the ceremony is symbolic, not legal, a minister or judge does not need to perform it, nor do you need to obtain a marriage license.  You might choose to ask a father, grandfather, or special friend to perform the ceremony, thus making it very personal.

  • Personalize your vows if you have been married for a number of years.  You might mention the years past and those in your future together, giving special meaning to the occasion.

  • Since the bride is already married, her father should not “give” her in marriage to the groom.  He may walk her down the aisle, however.
  • The length of time since the original wedding will dictate what the bride wears.  She should not wear a blusher (a veil over her face), but she may wear a white dress.  if she was recently married, she might wear her gown and veil again (minus the blusher).  However, if she has been married for several years, a wedding gown and veil would not be appropriate. Instead, a formal gown could be worn, or a dress or slacks for a more casual event.
  • Don't include the exchange of rings in the ceremony unless the bride is receiving a new ring or an anniversary ring.
  • Couples should not register for gifts or have a bridal shower unless they were recently married.  Most guests will not bring gifts unless the vow renewal occurs shortly after the original marriage or on a "milestone" anniversary, such as the 25th or 50th.
  • If you have children, include them in the ceremony as bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl or ring bearer.
  • Don’t use a vow renewal as an occasion to live out your fantasies of the dream wedding you didn’t have.  Instead, keep it simple and dignified and related to the length of time you have been married.
  • Do display items from the original wedding, if possible.  If you were recently married, you might show the wedding video and any photos that you have.  Those who have been married for several years might display their wedding photos, play the original wedding music, or have a baker re-create your wedding cake.  Invite members of the original wedding party to attend.

A vow renewal ceremony is a wonderful way to reaffirm your commitment and love for your spouse before family and friends.   The ceremony can strengthen family bonds as you create  new memories together


Your sister should not give your mother a bridal shower, since she is not a bride.  She might have some other type of party, however, that would be a fun way for family and close friends to celebrate.  She might call it a "Second Trip to the Altar" party or something similar.  Gifts might include personal items, like bath products, that can be used up rather than another thing to store.  If your parents are taking a trip, gifts might relate to what they will need for the trip - film, sunscreen, travel guides, etc., or guests might go in together to buy them one nice gift, such as a new camera or luggage.
Your mother can put all of your names on the invitation if there aren't too many names.  Otherwise, it would be better to say, "The children and grandchildren of Joe and Eva Brown invite you ......"  Then, if you are giving guests a program at the vow renewal, the names of all the children (and spouses) and grandchildren can be listed in the program.
Glenna Tooman, Wedding Consultant

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