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Everything You Need to Know About a Vow Renewal Ceremony

Published Wednesday, Apr. 20th, 2022

What to say, what to do, and what to expect at a vow renewal (plus whether or not to bring a gift) – for wedding officiants, couples, and guests.



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AMM Audio Articles · Everything You Need to Know About a Vow Renewal Ceremony


Is there anything as romantic as a married couple still very much in love? Choosing to say, “I do!” all over again? Aside from the bliss of the wedding day, we don’t think so!


Vow renewals are unique celebrations that honor a married couple’s continuing commitment to each other and their marriage. It’s a chance for them to reaffirm the promises they made on their wedding day and make new promises for the future. 


Married couples choose to renew their vows for many different personal reasons. Here are a few of the most common: 



  • To celebrate with friends and family after holding a smaller first wedding (as a ‘sequel’ to the first)


  • To mark an important anniversary


  • To celebrate a major milestone, such as the birth of a child, purchasing a home together, or graduating from a degree program


  • To reconnect as partners after overcoming a large relationship hurdle



Couples of all ages, and in all stages of life, choose to renew their marriage vows.


Vow renewals don’t follow the same ‘rules’ as weddings. 


Vow renewals are different from wedding ceremonies because they have no legal components to consider. Because a couple is already legally married, there’s no additional paperwork. They won't need a new marriage license to renew their vows. 


This also means there are no rules for how to perform a vow renewal! 


Couples can say and do anything they wish to at their ceremony – adding in any elements they enjoy, and skipping the rest. 


Vow Renewal Sample Scripts 


Officiants don’t need to complete or return a marriage license or any other legal documents, but many officiants do fill out a decorative certificate as a gift to the couple, which can be displayed in the couple’s home as a keepsake alongside their marriage certificate. 


Many vow renewals are officiated by a friend or relative with a special connection to the couple, someone who understands what makes their relationship special. 

(Get ordained online with AMM and learn how to perform weddings for friends and family.) 



AMM offers a beautiful selection of Vow Renewal Certificates




Vow renewals can look and feel any way a couple wants them to. 


Vow renewals are as varied as the couples who celebrate them! 


For example, some couples want a renewal ceremony that looks and feels just like a wedding ceremony, and will include a procession to walk down the aisle together, ask friends and family to participate in the ceremony with special readings, and exchange gifts or rings in addition to exchanging new vows. 


Other couples might want a simplified ceremony that includes only a few words on love and marriage from their officiant, an exchange of vows, and a kiss, followed by a fun reception with friends and family. 



See all articles about Vow Renewals 





Sounds fun, but… Do you give a gift for a vow renewal? 


Vow renewal etiquette can feel a little tricky to guests, because it isn’t as well-established as wedding etiquette. This leaves many guests wondering what to expect, and what’s expected of them – especially whether or not they should bring a gift. 


This can be even more confusing considering that couples plan vow renewals for so many different reasons, and many guests will have already attended their first wedding! 


Our advice is to consider these things when deciding when to buy a gift: 


  • Why is the couple renewing their vows? 

If it’s an anniversary, you might want to give an anniversary gift. If the renewal to celebrate the purchase of a new house, consider giving something that will make their new space feel cozy. 


  • Is this their first ceremony with guests? 

If the vow renewal is part of a sequel wedding or following a courthouse style ceremony or elopement, and it’s the first time a couple’s been able to celebrate with friends and family (because of the pandemic, military deployment, or another reason), consider giving the same kind of gift you would have given them at a first wedding. 


  • Have you already given the couple a wedding gift in the past? 

If you’ve already given the couple a traditional wedding gift in the past, consider giving them something small and heartfelt, like a handwritten card, a letter describing what they mean to you or what you wish for them in the future, or a piece of artwork that reflects their love for each other. 



In general, gifts are never required from guests. But even small gestures can make a couple feel incredibly loved and supported as they recommit to each other. 




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