A Complete Guide to Renewing Your Vows

Planning an "I do" round two? Here's everything you need to know.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Oct 29, 2021

Getting married is kind of a big deal, so why limit the experience to just one celebration? Whether you've been married for one year, 10 years or multiple decades, hosting a vow renewal is a beautiful way to honor your relationship and recommit to your spouse. In the past, vow renewals were traditionally held on milestone wedding anniversaries—but as we know, wedding traditions are meant to be broken. We're big proponents of hosting a vow renewal whenever you want. Your love story deserves it, after all.

If you've decided to renew your vows, you're in the right place. Consider this your go-to guide for hosting an epic vow renewal party to remember. Whether you're looking for vow renewal ideas or you're not sure of the logistics (like when to host or how to address your invites), we share exactly what you need to know right here. Start by learning everything about vow renewals below, then use a resource like The Knot Marketplace to book the vendors you need to bring your recommitment ceremony to life.

Why Do People Renew Their Vows?

So, why do people renew their vows? Intentions vary among couples, but a vow renewal is simply a way to celebrate your marriage and recommit to your partner. Some choose to renew their vows on a milestone anniversary, like the 10-year or 20-year mark, while others prefer to honor their wedding day more frequently, on a yearly basis.

According to experts, vow renewals and anniversary receptions have become much more common today as a result of the pandemic, especially for those who had to postpone or reschedule their nuptials. "Vow renewals have become very popular in the last few years—in fact, we're even seeing couples renewing their vows as early as after one year of marriage," explains Simon Rodrigues, Director of Sales & Marketing at Massachusetts-based resort Chatham Bars Inn. "Some couples who've had a smaller wedding ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions are now inviting their family and friends for a one-year vow renewal and having a larger reception to celebrate in a big way."

Ultimately, there's no "right" reason to host a marriage vow renewal, because it all comes down to honoring your commitment to your spouse at any stage of your marriage.

When Should You Renew Your Vows?

A reaffirmation can take place any time after your actual wedding, from the next day to 30 years later. Some couples don't want to renew too soon or too often, while others do it every year. Ultimately, the choice is completely up to you. "It may be more common to have a vow renewal for a milestone, but you can host a vow renewal for any anniversary or any time," explains wedding and relationship etiquette expert Mara Opperman. "There are no rules that govern when vow renewals should take place."

The location of your vow renewal ceremony may also impact when you're able to host it. Those planning a backyard party can do so virtually any time. But, if you'd rather host it at an outside location, like a favorite restaurant or a local event space, you'll want to start planning early to lock in your preferred date.

Who Hosts a Vow Renewal?

Some married couples host their own renewals, while others have their children do the honors. Alternatively, a close friend or family member (like one who served as the original maid of honor or best man in the couple's wedding party the first time around) can also take over planning duties.

As with prewedding events like a bridal shower or a rehearsal dinner, the host is generally responsible for funding the event and providing food, drinks and entertainment. Take this into consideration when thinking about hosting a vow renewal party. (And, if your kids are going to host, consider helping with some of the more advanced planning details.)

Where Should You Host a Vow Renewal?

If you're looking for great vow renewal ideas, start with your venue. The ceremony location can influence every aspect of the big day, from the food to the decor and the ambiance. You can renew your vows in a house of worship, at home in your backyard, on a coastal beach, in a pretty garden or park, or even on a mountaintop. You can even host a vow renewal elopement just for you and your S.O. in a scenic destination, like Hawaii or Las Vegas.

What matters most, though, is that your vow renewal location has sentimental ties for both of you. "Having a special connection to the place you host a vow renewal will make it meaningful for you," Rodrigues says. "Recently, outdoor spaces have been important and attractive based on the different comfort levels in traveling. Plus, drivable destinations are top of mind too, as couples are still looking for a dream vow renewal destination that makes it easy for family and friends to gather together safely."

Some locations may even offer vow renewal packages, which can provide couples with everything they need in one contract (think: catering, entertainment, private space, and even a wedding cake). If you don't want to spend a lot of time wedding planning for your renewal ceremony, a pre-planned package will take all of the work out of your special celebration.

Who Officiates a Vow Renewal?

Because a vow renewal isn't a legally binding ceremony like a wedding is, virtually anyone can act as an officiant, like a clergyperson, a judge, your children, a relative or even close friends.

Regardless of who you choose, work with them before the date to create a vow renewal ceremony structure. Your officiant can be as involved in your renewal of marriage vows as you'd like them to be. Perhaps you want them to open with a religious reading, a quote, or a personal story before presiding over the vow exchange. Or, you can simply have them welcome your loved ones before you and your S.O. take over with the vows you've prepared for each other.

Should You Have a Wedding Party?

Attendants are unnecessary for a vow renewal, but you might choose to invite your original bridesmaids and groomsmen to stand up for you informally, for sentimental reasons. (They don't have to wear their original outfits again, although they definitely could for the nostalgia factor.)

Some couples also involve their children and grandchildren, perhaps being escorted down the aisle by them or having them perform a reading during the ceremony.

Who Should Be Invited to a Vow Renewal?

The vow renewal guest list is completely up to your discretion. You might choose to have an intimate reaffirmation, inviting just close family and friends who've known you through the years. But, you can definitely throw a large party for your extended family and a wider circle of friends (read: wedding reception 2.0).

How Do You Address Vow Renewal Invitations?

Ready to start addressing invitations again? This is one of the most important vow renewal planning tasks—after all, you'll need to send formal invites to get the word out to your loved ones. Here's how to address your stationery:

If the invitation is issued by the couple:

"The honor of your presence is requested at the reaffirmation [or renewal] of the wedding vows of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith [or Susan and Jonathan Smith]."

If the invitation is issued by the children of the couple:

"The children of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith [or Susan and Jonathan Smith] request the honor of your presence at the reaffirmation ceremony of their parents."

If the invitation is issued by close friends or relatives of the couple:

"The honor of your presence is requested at the reaffirmation [or renewal] of the wedding vows of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith [or Susan and Jonathan Smith]."

What Should You Wear to a Vow Renewal?

If you're not sure what to wear to your vow renewal, just about anything goes. If you'd like to repurpose your original wedding dress or tux, you can definitely do so. Or, opt for a simple vow renewal dress, like an evening gown, cocktail midi or trendy jumpsuit. Alternatively, a full tuxedo isn't necessary—though you can pull out all the stops if you'd like. A simple suit-and-tie combo with a boutonniere or button-up and slacks would also suffice.

What Actually Happens During a Vow Renewal Ceremony?

So, you've made it this far—but what actually happens at a vow renewal ceremony? The order of events is quite simple. And, like just about every other aspect of planning a recommitment party, the itinerary is completely up to you. "Think of a vow renewal as a second chance to have your dream wedding," Opperman says. You can have a full-blown second wedding if you'd like, complete with a formal ceremony, a cocktail hour, and a seated dinner with dancing and mingling. Or, you can simply gather your loved ones for a short ceremony followed by dinner or a cocktail reception.

The actual vow renewal ceremony is, of course, the most important element of the party. Since a vow renewal isn't a legally binding event, there's no need to get another marriage license. Instead, along with your officiant, you'll exchange vows, recalling what you said when you were first married. You could also vary the verbiage and write original vows. This is an opportunity for both of you to really think about how you feel about your relationship, especially if the last time you exchanged vows was decades ago. Children, close relatives and special friends can do readings, and you can have meaningful music playing, just as you would at a wedding ceremony.

After you've both spoken, exchange rings. These can be your original bands, or you can splurge on special anniversary bands to upgrade your wedding ring stack. We love the idea of engraving your new bling with a special saying or phrase, like the date of your vow renewal or a meaningful quotation.

Do Vow Renewals Just Include a Ceremony, or A Reception Too?

Your vow renewal party can be as big and lavish as you'd like. In fact, there appears to be an industry-wide shift toward vow renewals that are bigger and better than ever before. "Vow renewals are becoming even larger celebrations than the actual weddings because they provide the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family again," Rodrigues reflects. "The vow renewal is also an opportunity to do things differently than you did for their wedding. This time around, the couple can include unique touches inspired by their love and one-of-a-kind experiences that didn't happen during their original wedding."

Your party can be any style, from a casual backyard barbecue to an intimate family dinner or a soirée as large and complex as a traditional wedding reception. You might bring along your original wedding photo album so you can take guests on a trip down memory lane, as well as family photos through the years of your marriage.

At some point during the celebration, you and your spouse can thank or toast family members and special friends for what they've contributed to your marriage over the years—and you'll probably be toasted by many of them.

While you don't have to hire an entire team of vendors like you would for a first wedding, there are some pros you might want around to capture the event, like a photographer or a videographer. Book their services in advance of the party so you can look back on the memories for years to come.

Should You Register for a Vow Renewal?

A vow renewal isn't necessarily the time to upgrade your kitchen or china collection. Consider skipping a registry and a shower—instead, we recommend browsing this list of vow renewal gift ideas to find a special present for your spouse, your parents or your close friends.

Watch Now

Up Next
  • Couple renewing their vows
    21 Thoughtful Vow Renewal Gifts for Couples