We’re two months away from our vow renewal, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am! The only people more excited are my husband and his best man, who is graciously hosting our renewal with his wife.
A little history about how we came to this point:
- My husband and I met in 1993, got engaged a year later and married in 1997
- We did NOT have a stag and doe (we were young and stupid, apparently)
- Pinterest did not exist back then
- We had very little money to work with and spent about $300 on our wedding. Total!
- It was still one of the happiest days of our lives
A vow renewal is something we’ve been talking about since we hit ten years of marriage. When we reached fifteen years, we were starting to toss ideas around. Things got REAL last year, about 6 months before we reached twenty years of marriage. You may remember this blog post I wrote about how I envisioned it.
We got married in December, and so, couldn’t really enjoy the outdoors. I don’t regret it, I just think I may have timed it a little differently.
Because our wedding was small, and we had to invite the obligatory people, we didn’t have the opportunity to invite more of our friends, and we felt bad about leaving them out.
When it was all said and done, we know we did the best we could with what we had to work with and we know we were very lucky too. But, there’s always been that little thought in our head, if we could do it differently, how would we do it?
If you’ve been considering a vow renewal for a milestone year, here are some recommendations:
Depending on your budget and your tastes, you can have a vow renewal any way you like. You can have it as large or as small as you want. You can rent a hall, have a destination renewal, or keep it as informal as you like, maybe even a backyard BBQ!
About a year or two in advance, we approached my husband’s best man. He and his wife live on this beautiful property surrounded by farmland. There’s no one for as far as the eye can see. They have neighbours, but when you’re outside at their house, you honestly wouldn’t know it. We knew we’d prefer to hold it there if they’d have us, and it was a huge relief when they agreed, wholeheartedly!
You can choose to have a themed event, or just go with the flow. This depends on the overall feel you want for your vow renewal and the venue you’re holding it at.
We began with a backyard BBQ theme, but tied in “We Still Do”. We have ideas for decorations that I’m not disclosing here because we haven’t made them yet 🙂
Again, this depends on your budget and tastes. You can hire a dj, a band, or play music from a playlist. Other forms of entertainment depending on your venue. Would you consider a photo booth? Games if it’s a backyard event?
My husband and I spent our early 20s with a local band that we quickly grew to love. Before we had kids, we were out with them nearly every weekend, and then, of course, things change when you have little ones. Then we’d see them once or twice a year or for special occasions.
We approached them a couple of years before our 20th anniversary and most of them were pumped to play for us. The best part, they are doing it for free, out of the goodness of their hearts. We are so lucky!
Officiating the Renewal
Since you and your spouse are already married, this isn’t a requirement. You may choose to simply have friends and family come up and say a few inspirational and heartfelt words about your milestone. You might consider asking your church pastor or reverend to make it a little more official. It’s ultimately up to you and your spouse.
We, again, approached our original pastor well in advance, and he was very happy to “officiate” our renewal. He’s even convinced us to create a memento certificate, something that we can frame as a keepsake, and perhaps exchange a couple of small tokens (not necessarily rings or jewelry but it can be).
Best Man/Matron of Honour
When you got married, you had a best man and maid of honour or some variation of that. A sidekick who was your right-hand person, a special human who helped you with all things related to the wedding. Do you need them for a vow renewal?
Not necessarily, but the great thing about vow renewals is that you can do it any way you like. There really are no right or wrong answers and that’s what makes an event like this so amazing.
My husband’s best man was completely on board right from the beginning, and while my original maid of honour is no longer in my life, I am indeed having a girlfriend help me out.
Choose someone who is as excited as you are, someone who is full of ideas and has a go-get-’em attitude. If you have people on your team who are very creative, even better! With all the plans you’re making, it’s definitely a bonus to have them around to remind you of things you might not have thought of.
Gifts are not given at a vow renewal. This is probably the only rule that applies to this kind of event. If you’re celebrating a milestone, you’ve been together awhile, and really, you should have everything you need to manage your home life. Just say “no thank you, your presence is all we require!”.
Of course, this depends on your venue. If you’re renting a hall, are they catering? Do you need to bring your own food in? Will it be a sit-down meal? A buffet-style? Who’s cooking it if you’re bringing it yourself?
There are no right or wrong answers here either. You can do whatever you’re comfortable with, and if you would like to enlist the help of a few friends to help prepare, just ask them.
We are going with an overall backyard BBQ idea, and haven’t decided on a pig roast or BBQ, but we know we will likely go with one or the other. If it’s not too expensive and enough people attend, we may do both. We’ll be doing cooler corn, salads and fruit and veggie trays. I may or may not make our renewal cake 😉
So, of course, I had to mention this. Don’t you love this “no rules” thing? You can have a cake, or choose not to. Cupcakes or dessert trays are just fine, but not necessary.
I am choosing to do a cake, because I never got the big, fancy wedding cake for our wedding. Being that this is my “second chance” to do things I couldn’t do for our wedding, I’m only too happy to do it! I once drew a picture of how I wanted our cake to be, but have long since lost it. But, hey, that’s what Pinterest is for, and I’ve been busy checking out various ideas.
Other Factors to Consider
Some other things to think about is how large do you want to go? It can be any size, just like your wedding. If you are having the event catered, this will factor into your budget as well, so be careful.
When I began my research on vow renewals, I saw a beautiful idea for a backyard garden party. The couple didn’t disclose that it was a vow renewal at all, to their guests, so it was a big surprise. It was intimate and quaint. If we had the backyard for it, I might have gone that route, but we’re not quite there yet!
Will children be attending? This can be a sticky subject, of course, but the couple calls the shots, just like they do for a bridal shower or the actual wedding. Maybe the venue isn’t an ideal atmosphere for children, or Uncle Whoever has no filter after a couple of drinks (ah, but do you really want HIM there anyway?). The choice is completely up to you and if you decide not to invite children, that’s entirely okay. You have nothing to feel guilty about!
Give the out-of-towners a heads up, well before the invitations go out. Coming in from out of town can take a lot of juggling and planning, so giving as much notice as possible to guarantee those people can attend is important. We made sure family from Ottawa knew first, so that they could make any arrangements, since they’re five hours away.
Just like the wedding, have options for those who stay the night in town. People will definitely appreciate that you’ve planned ahead for them and given them options. The more specific information you can give them, the better. Don’t make them do the research themselves – do it for them. If it’s important to have them there, make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. Our renewal is outdoors (rain or shine!) and with our hosts’ permission, we’re offering on-site camping options and two area hotels. I’ve provided addresses and phone numbers for them to make arrangements.
Some people choose to hire a photographer for their vow renewal. It makes perfect sense because these are memories you’re going to want to cherish. But, just like everything else, this is completely up to you.
Let your guests know if they need to bring anything specific. Is it BYOB or are you supplying the beverages? Will seating be provided if it’s a backyard event? Even if you aren’t providing seating, it’s always smart to have some extra chairs in the event someone forgets to bring theirs! Will there be a change in venue at all? Is it wise for them to bring an extra set of clothes?
Are you giving your guests favours? Just like the wedding, it’s nice to be able to give your guests a small token of appreciation for their presence. Also just like the wedding, it can be as small/useful/meaningful as you like.
Think I’ve missed anything? Let me know in the comments!