Recently via The Glitter Squad Celebrants FB page (we’re awesome, you should check us out here) I’ve been asked about what a renewal of vows ceremony should look like. It’s kind of an impossible question to answer because renewing your vows is totally about personal choice.
For some people, the answer is ‘that’s not for us’ and that’s fine. For others it’s something you do just the two of you. For others it involves your kids. And for others it’s a ceremony with your family and friends in attendance with a party after. Seeing this list, you probably already know exactly which category you fall into. What you might not know is how to go about planning your ceremony. And that is where a celebrant (can) come in.
That’s right, I included the word can. (What am I, trying to do myself out of a job??!! My accountant would think I’m nuts!) Because renewing your vows isn’t a legal requirement, or in fact a legal ceremony you don’t NEED a registered celebrant to officiate. But depending on how you choose to renew your vows – having someone who will run the show for you, give you great tips for how to put your ceremony together, ideas for what to include (I’ll get to that in more detail yet) and help you polish what you want to say to each other… well they can be worth their weight in gold. And I say this not just as a celebrant, I say it as someone who plans to have a vow renewal ceremony one day, and even though we’re thinking just the two of us on a hill by the sea, and I know how to put a ceremony together, I will be engaging the services of another celebrant.
To answer the question, how often should we renew our vows… only you can answer that. For some people it’s something they want to do every year on their anniversary, for others it’s something they want to do when they hit a milestone – 5, 10, 25, 40 years – all of them, or just once. And for others a life event may be the reason it’s important now, like never before.
So if you fall into the ‘just the two of us’ category like me you still have options. There’s nothing stopping you from taking time out once a year, going out to dinner, or for a walk together and actually talking about all the reasons you’re still happy to be married, all the things you love about the person you’re with (some will be the same reasons as you had on your wedding day, and some will be new ones), actually looking them in the eye and telling them all the things and hearing all the things in return. (Because if you’re anything like us, day to day talk tends to revolve around who is going to change the nappy, what you’ll do to the kitchen when you have the money to remodel and what happened at work/ home that day… even though all the things you love about each other, how grateful you are to still be with this wonderful person are still hovering just there, always felt and thought, just unsaid.)
Or you can engage a celebrant and essentially elope. Get dressed up (or not), go somewhere special (or not) and let someone else take the lead in crafting a ceremony that fits the two of you, your relationship, and why saying it out loud matters to you.
If you fall into the category of ‘we want to include our kids’ that’s great! For many couples, they didn’t have kids yet on their wedding day. Renewing your vows is a beautiful way for kids to understand the strength of commitment you’ve given to each other, and to the family as a whole. For some people, this ceremony would essentially be the same as an elopement, but with just your kids there and involved. For others it would follow a more traditional wedding set up of guests and a party afterwards, with kids included in the ceremony.
And there are so many ways to include kids in your ceremony. You can all sign a renewal of vows/ family bond certificate (not a legal document, but your celebrant should be able to help you create something beautiful). You can ask them to walk one or both of you down the aisle, they can be groomsmen and bridesmaids, they can give you their blessing, they can hold and hand you your rings, they can give readings, they can make promises of their own, they can tell you when it’s time to kiss to seal the deal… this isn’t a full and complete list of everything you can include to include your kids, but there’s no limit to what you can include, so arbitrarily I’ll stop there. And #lifehack, it’d be a great time to get those family photos taken you’ve been meaning to do for years.
If you fall into the ‘more traditional wedding set up with guests and a party’ category that’s great too. Maybe you just can’t imagine celebrating a big life event like this without your friends and family by your side… or maybe you’re having the wedding you wanted but couldn’t have at the time of your original wedding. If you fall into the second category, you’re probably planning your renewal of vows (or perhaps more aptly it should be called celebrating your marriage ceremony) within a few years of your original wedding, but at the same time there’s nothing stopping you from doing this for your 25th anniversary!
When it comes to what a renewal of vows ceremony looks like… this is something you’re going to have to talk to your celebrant about… because the short answer is whatever you like! But the long answer could go on for pages.
Personally I send couples a document which breaks down of the framework of a renewal of vows ceremony (classic wedding styles or elopement) to get the ball rolling, and another one which includes a whole long list (but again not complete, couples introduce me to new ideas all the time!) of things they can add in… and what they tell me about what they liked (and didn’t like) from these documents, coupled with their answers to my fun nosy questions is how I create a ceremony just for them.
However many days, months or years you’re celebrating together, however it is you choose to show each other you’re still in it because you’re stoked to be, congratulations!!
And if you’re planning to celebrate your marriage with a renewal of vows ceremony I’d love to hear from you. I’m based in Alexandra, but happy to travel around Central Otago and beyond. I’m up for a challenge, so hit me with your ideas and we’ll go from there. You can contact me via Facebook call or text me on 027 384 7886 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org