Vow renewals became a thing a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn't really understand their importance until after my own wedding. I knew what the concept of renewing your vows was, but I didn't understand the why. And to quite a few of us, when we think of something like this it seems more about making beautiful photos in an epic landscape with a flowy dress than about the renewing the vows part.
Jump ahead to a few years after my wedding and (a few years working in the wedding industry) and my mentality has completely changed. I’ve realized that with the right planning and intentionality, vow renewals can be a reminder of your cornerstone. Renewing your vows is one of the biggest ways you can remind each other of who you are together - an incredible gesture of love. It’s an intentional space to look back at what you've been through, what you've overcome and what your dreams hold for the future.
To start, I want to be careful about placing too much importance on any event like this - relationships aren’t just the mountaintops, it’s the walking in between (thanks to Ben Rector for that beautiful line I can never get out of my head!) It's about you and your life with your partner more than it is about an event, no matter how amazing. Think back to when you were planning your wedding. When you're first getting married, so much is new to you in the wedding planning process. The music, your aesthetic, the people you invite, the space you choose - everything is hinged on who you are as a couple. Your wedding is really the first time that you'll stand in front of everyone you love and declare that you're never going to leave the other's side. In a sense, your wedding was the first way of showing your friends and families who you are together. Who you are a couple. Suddenly you’re not just ___ (insert your name). You’re ___ + ___ and that’s a new and beautiful thing.
Fast forward three years, seven years, fifteen years. Whichever milestone you fall at, I'm guessing a lot has changed since your wedding. Stylistically your taste has probably shifted, new friends have come into your life, maybe you have babies, maybe you don't, maybe you've entered some really hard seasons together and you came out the other side. If your marriage is anything like mine, together you've been through the best of times and the worst of times. But that's what marriage is, right? The best of the best and the worst of the worst - which is why it's such an incredible thing. Your spouse has seen you at your absolute worst, your lowest, your darkest, and still has chosen you, day after day. You've done the same for them - and that is worth everything. And so worth celebrating.
Today, years after your wedding, you know who you are together more than you did before. You've become closer than you ever thought possible. When I look back at my wedding only four years ago, it feels like I barely knew my husband to the way I know him now (and we have such a long way to go!) And yet those beginning stages are to be cherished as much as you cherish today at year three, year ten, year twenty, year fifty.
There are many beautiful ways to celebrate marriage and renewing your vows is only one of them. But it’s a beautiful, beautiful way to express your love for the one you love the most and I would love to see more married couples choosing to create an intentional space like this to remind themselves how true their vows still are, years after they walked down the aisle.
Does this resonate with you? If yes, I’ve put together a few tips to help you get started in planning a vow renewal. Now is the best time to start.
Crafting a vision
The very wonderful thing about vow renewals is that there are so many less strings attached to something like this than a wedding.
This can be exactly - whatever - anything - you’re wanting.
What are some of your favorite places? Typically I always opt to bring my couples out into nature to isolate them from city noise and to limit distractions. There’s also something insanely peaceful and beautiful to me about being out in the woods, or on the coast or in a cabin with your loved one. Choose somewhere that’s beautiful to you - whether it’s a favorite place close to home where you like to go together on Saturdays, or you take that trip you’ve always wanted to take. What places are meaningful to you? Or where have you always dreamed about going together? That cute cabin an hour away? Portland? Hawaii? Barcelona? This could be the perfect time.
With or without your people
There’s no right or wrong way to do this. I have couples who choose to renew their vows alone in the woods or on the beach and others invite their closest friends and family to celebrate with them afterwards. Whichever you choose, I recommend keeping your guest list on the small side to preserve the intimacy of your celebration. Choose your closest and dearest friends and family to celebrate with you, those who have been clearly for you in your relationship and that you could text at any time. If you want to keep everything more on the secretive/romantic side, just do the two of you. Plan to stay in a beautiful hotel or unique Airbnb afterwards and make a long weekend of it - almost like a second honeymoon.
Writing your vows
This is all you. Some couples to re-read the vows they read at their wedding, and others choose to completely re-write their vows based on what the last few years have been to them. Some memorize everything, others read them from their phones. Some add a band to their wedding ring when they do this and others keep it simple by simply showing up and re-promising the next ten, twenty, thirty years together. If you’re not sure on where to start with vows, it can be helpful to take some time reading the traditional wedding vows “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health” for inspiration. It’ll flow from there.
No matter what you choose to do, I promise you’ll never regret investing more into your marriage. What we have is priceless and so worth celebrating - so many cheers to that.
(I'm always here to talk more about all of the above! Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out with any further questions you may have about where to start in planning your vow renewal.)