This Is Your Ultimate Vow Renewal Checklist and Guide

I wanted some inspiration to write this fun guide—your vow renewal checklist—so I hopped on People and searched for “vow renewal.” I got over 1,100 hits!

That means vow renewals are hugely popular, with sports heroes, reality show personalities, real-life patients in the ICU, to the Queen herself (Beyonce!) showcasing their vow renewals in the media.

Now, it’s your turn!

Maybe you’re acknowledging a significant anniversary, or you never had a traditional wedding ceremony, and it’s high time to celebrate now. Your vow renewal checklist will cover everything to make your day extra special.

Enjoy!

The bride and groom look at each other against the backdrop of the mountains
Photo by Olivia Hope Photography

The 5 Ws on Your Wedding Vow Renewal Checklist

The bride sits on the groom's lap with a bouquet in her hands. The newlyweds' eyes are closed.
Photo by Jaymi Nichole Visuals

Journalists use the 5 Ws to write the best articles. I think the same technique works great when renewing your wedding vows!

Your checklist for a vow renewal will include:

Why?

  • Why couples renew their vows
  • Why you should hire a photographer and/or videographer

Who?

  • Who to invite to your vow renewal
  • Who to include in your wedding party
  • Who officiates your vow renewal

What?

  • What’s involved in planning a vow renewal
  • What kind of reception do you have
  • What to put on invitations
  • And most importantly, what do you wear?!

When?

  • When to hold a vow renewal
  • When to send out invites

Where?

  • Where to hold a vow renewal
  • Where to hold the reception

The 5 Ws in your vow renewal checklist will make planning easier and more fun. So let’s get into this!

Why a Vow Renewal?

Some cynics will tell you that vow renewals are happening more because they’re trendy. But, maybe those fine folks haven’t yet found their significant other because a happy marriage takes hard work, and it’s worth recognizing your success and recommitting to your partner.

On the flip side, some couples skipped a traditional wedding during the global pandemic, or maybe you just eloped years ago when funds were a bit tighter, and now you feel like honoring this moment with a vow renewal and a party!

If you and your partner want to renew your vows and symbolize your strong couple bond, that’s reason enough!

Why a Vow Renewal Photographer or Videographer is a Great Idea

My only answer to that is, why not?

Here’s what’s great about capturing your vow renewals with a skilled professional:

  • If you got married decades ago and have a wedding photo album, getting your vow renewal photographed is the next stage in your love story that you can pass down to your family.
  • If you eloped or had a smaller “starter” wedding, your vow renewal may be your first big celebration, and in that case, you’ll definitely want a record of the day to look back on often.
  • A tremendous cost-saving tip is to have digital photos professionally taken so you can print your vow renewal photos yourself!

Next, we answer your “Who?” questions, including people in your life who’ve seen you through good and bad times!

Who to Invite to Your Vow Renewal

There’s no bad etiquette for a vow renewal guestlist. In other words, if you felt forced to have a wedding reception a decade ago that included 300 people (half of whom you barely knew!), your vow renewal can be limited to family and friends who’ve been by your side on this journey called life.

Of course, some couples believe vow renewals are a chance to reconnect with people they haven’t seen in a while. In that case, plan a huge party and throw your guest net wide!

And if you’re holding a vow renewal and having a reception for the first time, you can treat it like a “regular wedding” with a guest list length that’s short or long and a theme from casual to formal. The choices are yours!

Who to Include in Your Wedding Vow Renewal Party

I get asked this often because couples may think of their vow renewal as a kind of wedding reenactment.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Do you want a throwback celebration where the wedding party wears what they did on the wedding day? This theme works particularly well if you’re shooting for a vow renewal under five years from your original wedding day.
  • Do you want a different theme for your vow renewal, like a mid-2000s costume party?

If you’re nostalgic, it’s a great idea to gather up your original wedding party gang and have a redo!

There are even more touching reasons to have a different wedding party: I’ve seen some heart-melting vow renewals, including small kids or stepchildren. When you make your vow renewal a family recommitment, it makes your day all the more significant.

So you may be thinking, “do I really need a wedding party?” Drum roll, please: the answer is no!

You two may want to renew your vows alone on vacation or in front of a small group in the comfort of your backyard. It’s your vow renewal, and this day is up to you.

Who Officiates a Vow Renewal

You’re already legally married, so a vow renewal isn’t considered an “official” ceremony. But in a way, that’s what makes it even more special because it’s a voluntary way of reinforcing and strengthening your marital bond.

So, to answer the question of who officiates, it’s your choice again! If you’re a couple of faith, it can be significant to have the minister who married you officiate your vow renewal, too.

For more casual vow renewals, it can be great fun to have your kids take part in leading your vow renewal ceremony or close friends and other family members. Finally, some couples take the lead and perform their vows without an officiant—it’s all “I Doable!”

What’s Involved in Planning a Vow Renewal

Now you know you don’t need to worry about legal documents to make your vow renewal official. Of course, if you’d like to hold your ceremony in a church with your minister, it’s a great idea to give them the same amount of notice you would in planning your wedding, but other than that, you’ve got more time and options.

What to Say at Your Vow Renewal

A vow renewal can be far more personal than repeating traditional wedding vows.

It helps to have a written record of your original vows, and you can rephrase or rewrite something heartfelt for your spouse that reflects the past and looks to the future.

Check out our great article, How To Write A Beautiful Wedding Speech & Vows, for vow renewal inspiration!

Choose a Theme to Make Planning Easy

The bride and groom stand holding hands in traditional attire
Photo by JackElope Photography

Seeing these exquisite photos by one of our Wedding Pioneer vendors took my breath away!

It proves that any ceremony with just the beautiful two of you (including a vow renewal) is reason enough in a stunning setting. I also think it’s a perfect example of what a professional photographer can do to capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments forever!

But when you want guests there and a fun reception, a great way to make the planning process a snap is to select a theme, like:

  • A reenactment of your first wedding
  • A destination vow renewal on vacation with your family and friends
  • Seasonal vow renewal at Christmas or even something fun and quirky like Halloween
  • A joint engagement party/vow renewal is when one of your kids gets engaged, and you celebrate your lifelong commitment (or flipside, you’ve gotten engaged, and your parents renew their vows at your party).

The options for your vow renewal are personal and should be built around you!

What Kind of Reception Do You Have

If you’re a pandemic newlywed, you may have had to cut back on your reception or skip it altogether.

Those lucky enough to have cherished memories of our wedding days may want to relive them, which will influence what kind of vow reception you plan. Or maybe you don’t want a big bash?

If renewing your vows remains private between you, I couldn’t be happier for you.

Your vow renewal reception can be in a grand ballroom, a fun summer party in the backyard, or vacationing at a beach destination. Choose a caterer with a reception venue, or wear the chef hats yourselves!

Here are informative links to help you with what you decide:

Okay! Let’s talk about vow renewal stationery.

What to Put on Vow Renewal Invitations

The paper stationery or digital template you choose for your vow renewal will help set your day’s tone and theme. For example, I prefer “e-vites” to receive a physical invitation these days, simply because it’s more green.

But this is your vow renewal, remember?

Here’s the perfect example of a physical stationery product that’s truly special and worthy of a significant occasion in your married life.

Your Silver Wedding Anniversary Invitation Is Golden

Your 25th anniversary is a great reason to go big, and many couples choose to include a vow renewal in their anniversary party schedule. Check out this image for what to say on a special invitation:

25th Anniversary Invitation and Vow Renewal Example

Whatever kind of vow renewal ceremony and reception you choose, one important tip I can give you is to decline gifts from your guests politely. The best gift is your continued commitment to your spouse and best friend in life, and having your loved ones there to witness it is the best thing you’ll receive!

Destination Vow Renewal Invitation

I love this idea! Plan a getaway and invite a group with a destination vow renewal e-vite. Regarding wording, check out this Vegas Vow Renewal for a closer look at what the example e-vite says because it’s perfect!

Hilarious 50th Anniversary Evite

This digital template is an excellent way for you crazy kids to celebrate half a century with peace, love, and your vow renewal! Check this image out for a closer look at the wording.

What to Wear to a Vow Renewal

Yay! We’re on to the fashion portion of today’s topic.

Vow Renewal Fashion for the Couple

You’ve got a lot of choices here. It will depend on your theme and where your vow renewal is.

As I scrolled through the in-depth Wedding Pioneer articles on wedding fashion, I realized that our archives are a goldmine! So to help you choose your vow renewal fashions as a couple, check out these great links:

Vow Renewal Fashion for the Wedding Party

Are you including your original wedding party in your vow renewal celebration? It’s pure nostalgic gold to get everyone back in their dresses and suits, but if that’s not possible, here are fun articles to check out for vow renewal fashions for your original bridesmaids:

Your original bridesmaids don’t need to dress identically as in years past. Instead, they can decide on dresses of a similar category (infinity-style, long-sleeved, or casual) and choose a color scheme to complement their vow renewal look.

Vow Renewal Fashion for Your Kids

I think a vow renewal ceremony that includes your kids is adorable, memorable, and a guaranteed tear-jerker!

Here are great styles to outfit your mini-me if you’re having a dressier ceremony.

This pretty look is popular with junior bridesmaids or flower girls, so if your daughter is in the toddler to tween range, she’ll feel perfectly princessy in this lacy white top with a tulle skirt and a satin ribbon. There are many beautiful colors to choose from here!

You’ll be proud of your little one in this sweet dress that combines rustic romance with youthful innocence.

Are they kidding me with this cuteness? This little man style will be a surefire hit that makes everyone say, “a-w-w-w!”

They’ll look all grown up in this handsome outfit you can easily coordinate with your spouse’s vow ceremony suit.

When to Send Out Vow Renewal Invitations

There’s no formal timing to send out invites for your vow renewal. However, if you’re planning a destination event, I’d give your guests at least seven months’ notice to plan a trip because travel restrictions are happening more frequently.

For significant occasions like a 25th-anniversary vow renewal, utilize the same two-month window as you would with a traditional wedding. For casual vow renewals, go with anywhere from two months to six weeks before the date.

When and Where to Hold Your Vow Renewal and Reception

You can start your own traditions here. For example, some couples begin with a simple and private first-anniversary vow renewal and hold a larger celebration starting with their 10th anniversary, their 25th, and their 50th.

Where do you renew? As we’ve discussed, the place and times are where your hearts say it is! So, choose your original honeymoon destination as a vow renewal getaway, or make it a family celebration during the holiday season.

You’re building your bond and making memories; there’s no time to do that like the present!

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