Wedding vows renewal ideas

Online Users: 0 guest(s), 0 user(s). Replies: 13

LateBloomer Posts : 4 Registered: 2/5/11
Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 6, 2011 12:37 AM

Hello everyone!

I am new here and way past the age I should even be browsing on this site, but I hope you won't kick me out. :-) This is long, but please be patient and not judgmental.

I am already married. We love each other dearly; we've been together for almost 20 years (married to each other for over 18) and we have two kids (17 and 11).

Our wedding, however was a horror story that I don't like to remember. I am partially responsible for it, because I didn't care then, and let the control out of my hands.

We were living together already (not in the US), and I loved him but didn't want to be married. Rejected his first proposal with "not now, maybe one day". He was sweet and said "I will wait". He waited, didn't push with the wedding, but I felt that he was breathing down my neck. And that if I don't make up my mind soon he might move on.

So I agreed. My parents are divorced, and since I was little I didn't believe that marriages last. I never planned to get married. You could love someone without wedding rings. I didn't want the dress, the cake, the guests, the kitch and the bad music - all that was not my thing. But I saw that he wanted it, and I agreed to the minimum style wedding, maybe by a justice of peace (I am not religious), and with his closest family members present.

Anyway, when he informed his parents (who I've seen previously only once because they lived far away from us), they were overjoyed. His mother said - you can't have a small wedding, it will look like a second wedding. We need to make a full blown wedding with a lot of guests; after all, this is a first celebration for the family in a long time. His family has been through a lot of difficulties, and I decided to let them have it anyway they wanted it, to make them happy. I didn't care.

So his mother took over. I love my mother-in-law very much, but I am still having a hard time forgiving her this. I didn't know any of the 170 guests at our wedding. I knew the groom, and have seen his parents and two friends once before. There was nobody on my side present; no family or friends (there was a war in my country, so I couldn't even inform them, let alone invite them).

I didn't choose my dress (MIL borrowed it, and it was awful). You don't even want to know what was on my head (LOL) buy I laughed it off. I wanted to make everybody else happy, so I wore it. The wedding was big and kitchy, and - religious. I was very surprised, and I found out about it - at the wedding! It was like a bad dream.

The wedding itself was meaningless to me, I didn't feel it as mine. My family and friends weren't there, the guests were some unknown people. I didn't decide on anything - the only thing that I chose was the groom. :-)

Once my husband and I talked about this "something old, something new" tale, and I said that I had the first three, but there was nothing blue. He says - of course there was blue! You were blue. :-(

For the first few years after the wedding I didn't care. Then we started to attend our friends weddings, and I was feeling sad after each one. It got worse. I cried at the movie weddings, and my husband would try to change the subject every time when someone would mention weddings. This became a topic to avoid, because I would always turn sad.

After so many years, I changed my attitude about marriages. We are strong, we are going to make it. I didn't know it then. If I did, maybe I would have cared more about the wedding.

I wish I could do it over now. I am ready to get married. But I am in my early forties, DH in mid-forties. And we are already married. So, I guess the next best thing is a renewal. I am not so sure I care about that - I would like a wedding. The renewal sounds lame.

I don't even know first thing about renewals. It might seem funny to our teenager and preteen. And I feel funny about it. It is not a part of my tradition; if it wasn't for the internet I wouldn't even know about it. But there is nothing else to do but to make new memories, to heal the experience from the original wedding.

My husband wants to make things right, he will agree to whatever plan I come with. And I am not sure what to do. I want somehow to get excited about the renewal, but so far - I'm not. Are there any web-sites or discussion groups related to that, and not weddings only?

We are sure about one thing - if we do the renewal we want to do it in some tropical setting on a destination. Perhaps we'll do it for our 20-th anniversary, in 2012. We don't want guests, it will be a private thing. Still not sure if we will take our children (that might turn it into a family affair), or it will be just the two of us.

So what is a renewal exactly? We don't need a marriage certificate; got one already. We don't want a religious ceremony. Who should officiate it? Do we have to write something? Help me out here, I am not very romantic.

I know I want to choose a dress this time. Am I overstepping the boundaries if I wear a wedding dress? It would be more casual style, without a train, but I want a wedding dress, not a cocktail dress.

What else should we think about? Cake? Hairstyle? We've been on destination vacations before, and had a lot of fun. How will this vacation be different if we do a renewal thing?

Is there a literature about it? Can you recommend a book?

If you've read this long post to the end - thank you.


Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 6, 2011 11:21 AM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

Dear LB,

What happens between a husband and wife is their business. If you two want to renew your vows in a way you find appropriate, just do it. You don't need permission, you don't need etiquette.

Pick someplace nice that you want to visit, buy 2 airplane tickets and go.

If you want to involve your children, then buy 4 airplane tickets and go. Be prepared for "OK, Mom and Dad, pleeeeesssszzzeee, no mushy stuff." or "Hey, Mom and Dad, how about renewing your vows at Disney World? (or other suitable theme park attractive to teenagers)"

You don't need all the crap that you wished you would have avoided in your wedding: Ceremonial bridal gown, rented menswear, giant audience, officiant, attendants, bouquets, giant reception, etc.

You just need you, your husband and some spot on earth that means something to you. Add your children, if you are so inclined. Oh, and don't include MIL. I'm sure she's a lovely person, but she gets to sit this one out.


CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 6, 2011 12:12 PM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

with a renewal, there really are no rules.

Sit down and together plan what you'd like it to be -- if you want an officiant to formaly deliver the lines, hire one.

If you want to dress up, walk to a secluded place on a private beach under the moonlit sky, and say words that have meaning to each other, do that.

If you want to go sky diving, and give each other a hug at the end -- celebrating that the dive from the plane represented dive into life you took together... do it.

This is something that the two of you should plan together, that has meaning to both of you.



WoodlandBride Posts : 52 Registered: 1/6/11
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 4:56 PM Go to message in response to: CatStandish

Cat and AOTB are right. You do what you and your husband want.

I have only one suggestion. I am something of a wordsmith. What words mean matters very much to me. In my opinion, I would not call it a renewal. I know, that is the commonly accepted terminology. However, consider this; something that is renewed has generally expired. The promises you have made to each other have not. My suggestion is perhaps to call it reaffirmation or restatement of vows.

Just my thoughts. I know, I am probably the only one who thinks like this.

Congrats on making it despite all the 'wedding' issues. After all, the relationship far outshines any ceremony.


LateBloomer Posts : 4 Registered: 2/5/11
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 5:29 PM Go to message in response to: WoodlandBride


Quote: "However, consider this; something that is renewed has generally expired."

My thoughts exactly! This whole renewal business sounds fake to me because it reminds me of a car lease that finished and now has to be renewed. To quote one husband when his wife suggested a vow renewal: "Why? I meant it the first time!" LOL

Thank you also for your kind words from your last paragraph. We know a few couples that had dream weddings, and sadly their marriages didn't last. So, the ceremony is not the crucial thing, but it does matter, especially because it is still bothering me.

So, we are at the begining of the planning stage. As far as my husband is concerned, he will agree to anything, but I don't see him actively pursuing this. He meant it the first time. :-)

I am still not sure what that meaningful thing might be. Hm. I feel so un-romantic and out of ideas.

Does anybody know any literature or web-sites that talks about this kind of things? Maybe I get some ideas.

Thank you all for reading.


MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 6:17 PM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

I'd google "vow renewal" for ideas. I did, and found this article:

You can also seearch for vow renewal in these forums and see ideas that other brides have come up with. Most of those forums aren't active anymore, but if you're looking for ideas, they may be good reads.

The thing about a vow renewal (and I also hate that word) is that because it's not a wedding in the traditional sense, there really aren't that any rules, so it's hard to think of guidelines. The article above at least gives a framework for one, and you can decide what does/does not make sense for you. (For example, the aisle probably doesn't make sense, but having your kids officiate sounds like a lovely idea, if they'd go for it).

Good luck, and Congratulations on your many years of marriage.


"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson


Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 6:34 PM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

Dear LB,

"My thoughts exactly! This whole renewal business sounds fake to me because it reminds me of a car lease that finished and now has to be renewed."


Your post about a "vow renewal" is probably one in a million. The other 999,999 are people who had a quick wedding the first time for some reason (immigration, lack of funds, pregnancy, dying relative, insurance), then feel entitled to the full blown Big White Wedding, as well as the associated shower, bachelorette party, gifts and hoopla.

They come here asking for etiquette hints for holding a wedding-like event where they "renew vows", then get insulted when someone, like me, tells them that a fake wedding is not at all interesting and to think, instead, about an anniversary party.


Sorry, sweetie, no one is entitled to a dream wedding, no more than I'm entitled to my dream house, my dream job, my dream vacation, my dream children. You get the wedding you get. I get the house I have, the job I have, the vacation I have and the kids I have. Reality Bites.

You, on the other hand, are taking the right attitude. (Brava!!!) You don't see this as a vow renewal, since your vows never expire. You are looking for a ceremonial reaffirmation of your vows, so you will have memories of your own ceremony that suits your sensibilities, rather than the giant circus-like affair you had the first time.

Having said that, there's no real one "right" way to do this, other than just keeping it private or within your close, immediate family circle. Just as there is no one "right" way to have a wedding, there is no one "right" way to reaffirm your vows. (The "wrong" way is to create the fake wedding with a huge audience and a gift registry.)

My earlier suggestion stands. Think of some nice location that means something to both of you. Some place within reach, financially. Then, transport yourselves and possibly your children to that place.

As for the ceremony, again, it's totally up to you. You can say whatever you want to say. You can recite Shakespeare if you like. You can quote Lady Gaga if you like. It can be as long as you like or as short as you like. (If your kids are like mine, make it short if they are present. Otherwise you'll hear "barf, gag", etc, after about 10 minutes or so. I have two boys, and sentimental poetry is not their thing.)

My suggestion is to not think about what you "should" do, but instead think of what you want to do. Do you want to make it a family vacation? Do you want to leave the kids with Grandma, and go off by yourselves? Do you see yourself at a beach or at a place with a pretty mountain view?

You might, also, consider hiring a professional photographer to capture the moment. That way you would have some nice photos of a pleasant time to replace the wedding album filled with bad memories.


LateBloomer Posts : 4 Registered: 2/5/11
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 11:35 PM Go to message in response to: Aunt

Thank you! Wow, I don't know where to start. You are so right about this sense of entitlement that a lot of people seem to have. Well, I don't think I deserve anything. I truly wouldn't want a bachelorette party or a bridal shower, although I didn't have them the first time around. I didn't want them then, either. As for the gifts - I didn't expect anything and was truly appreciative for all that we got. It wasn't necessary. But the second time around - forgetit! Didn't even think about gifts. We are thinking of not even telling anybody about this. It's our private thing. Maybe we'll share it with close friends when we return, maybe not.

Even then, when we were getting married, I thought that the wedding should be something just for us (and his closest family), and not the show for the whole village, but that idea was shot down. So I would like to make it as I originally wanted, just without his family. They got the wedding they wanted anyway.

As far as destinations go, we are for the beach, always. Not mountains. But we have been on several tropical vacations already, and we've loved them. Now, how would this one be different from the rest? How to make it more special?

The ceremony - I am totally puzzled, and out of ideas. I wouldn't want something mushy, because I might be doing the barf/gag thing together with the kids. :-) But the more I am thinking, the more I am inclined to leave the kids behind. The older one will already be in college by then. Anyway, I might feel more free (OK, and young :-) if we don't bring them.

Hiring a photographer is a great idea! We have a wedding album somewhere in the house, but nobody ever looks at it. It would just bring unpleasant memories. We really need some antidote to that.

I don't know what I want from it yet, but I know what I don't want. And what I want to fix. This is like thinking it out loud. Thank you for being patient with me and helping me flesh it out.

I am still remembering that at our wedding nobody asked me anything. No "I do" or "I will" for me. I could have been deaf-mute and it wouldn't have been a problem. It is all in a fog now, but I think they made me spin around him a few times, and then he stepped on a glass to break it. The end. Hoyoyoyoyoyoy!! I want to have a voice this time. I don't know what I want to say, but I have to say something to indicate that I am in agreement.

Also, I would like to have a nice dress this time. A wedding dress that I will choose and feel comfortable wearing. It can be rented. There are places that rent wedding gowns, right? I would like to have my hair and makeup done right this time. For the wedding I just washed my hair that morning, like every day, and that was it. It wasn't styled differently. The makeup was done by a friend of my mother-in-law who was an artist. Not a make-up artist, that's for sure. I hated what she did; it was awful. I felt so uncomfortable in my skin all evening!

And I want to dance with my husband this time. He is not much of a dancer, but this is one of the traumas from the original wedding. When the "music" started (really awful music, but who cares), I asked "Where is my husband?", because I wanted to dance with him. Then someone explained to me that he is dancing with the men, and I am to dance with women. Who knew that weddings like that existed?! This was the first time I've heard of such a thing. Well, this time - we'll dance.

I have a feeling like I am forgetting something, and that's why I would really like to read experiences of other people who did this renewal thing. Maybe it will help me decide what I like and what I would like to avoid.


CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 8, 2011 8:11 AM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

Since this for you is a reaffirmation.

Why don't you look on line for destination dresses. They have a LOT of beautiful and inexpensive dresses that are perfect for beach weddings. (Check out David's Bridal and Eden Bridal. They have some lovely ones.)

Pick a tropical place that is special, that maybe you have not been before. Make the 2nd Honeymoon the biggest part of your budget -- like maybe rent a cabin on one of the Hawaiian islands.

You already know you "meant it"

So instead of writing vows... maybe write up something that you can say to each other along the lines of "This is why I'd do it all again."

You don't have to plan a full reception ... go to a lovely restaurant that features a band. (seek them out on line). Stay in your wedding outfit, because this is one of those more casual, moveable things....look like the queen and king you are that day. People around you seeeing that will love it because it IS an affirmation that some things last. (you might even go to a luau)

Instead of a bouquet, get wedding leis for BOTH of you-- they are different than standard leis (and go ahead and invest in these. You can wear them anywhere during your vacation. Or you can leave them out and they will make your place smell amazing)

When we go dancing, my favorite ones to watch are the little old couples...they can barely move, but they still dance together. It is SO sweet. That's what I want when I'm in my be happy going dancing with my sweetie.



Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 8, 2011 10:39 AM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

Dear LB,

Essentially, you are thinking of a "second honeymoon".

Try looking that up and see what pops up.

In reading your description of what you want, an idea popped into my head. I went to Hawaii a few years ago, and stayed at a place called Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu. This was a hotel right on the beach, not "beach adjacent" but right up next to the sand, maybe 20 feet from the water. We had an "oceanfront" room, so from our balcony we had a sweeping view of the ocean.

I remember seeing that this hotel has a "vow renewal" package. (We did not do that, so I'm going by what I read.) Apparently, on certain mornings, they set up a deal where couples can renew their marriage vows on the beach, and they have a photographer there to capture the moment. It's all very informal.

If I recall correctly, the photos at the hotel advertising this service showed women in white flowing dresses and men in white Hawaiian shirts, complete with leis for both.

That sounds like something that might suit your needs.

Ha! I found it on their website:

I should tell you that I am not connected with this hotel in any way, except for the fact that I stayed there a couple of years ago. I will say that I was VERY satisfied with my stay there. They had no hidden "resort fees", so the price we paid at check-out was exactly the price I was quoted when I first inquired. We paid $1000 for a three night stay, in a deal that gave us the third night free. The deal included three (two of us) free breakfasts. They have two restaurants in the hotel: casual and fine dining. Both were excellent.

The room was lovely, the view from the balcony was stunning and we enjoyed every minute. I do a lot of travel and consider this to be one of the best hotel experiences I have had in my life, any where.

The hotel is full-service, and I think I remember seeing a beauty parlor in the hotel. (Ask.) They have some beachwear shops in the hotel, and the hotel is near a large shopping area in Waikiki. I did not go to the nearby shopping area, as I am not a shop-o-holic. I mention that because you could spend a few days before your ceremony looking for a suitable dress for the ceremony.

Finally, there were many interesting vendors on the beach near the hotel, including a catamaran cruise company. We took their "Sunset Cruise" and enjoyed ourselves. The hotel has a concierge who arranged our transport to and from Pearl Harbor. Our purpose for going to Hawaii was to celebrate my husband's 60th birthday, and one of his Bucket List items was to tour Pearl Harbor. This trip was for him.

I love Google Earth. Our room in the hotel is at

21.277730, -157.833374 (lat, long)


LateBloomer Posts : 4 Registered: 2/5/11
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 10, 2011 11:29 PM Go to message in response to: Aunt

Thank you so much for this wonderful idea! Also, thank you for giving me great keywords for searches: "second honeymoon" and "destination dresses". I will look into it. We have almost two years to plan it.

We've never been in Hawaii. It is 11 hours flight from NYC, too long of a trip for a 3-4 days vacation. When we think tropical, we think Mexico, Florida or Dominican Republic (all of them 3-4 hours away). When we go to Hawaii, it will have to be for 10 days. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be there.


Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Feb 11, 2011 11:32 AM Go to message in response to: LateBloomer

Dear LB,

I am glad to be of help. If you read the Outrigger page, I think that might help with ideas.

Hawaii is a long distance, I agree. I have a "Bucket List" of going to all 50 states, and Hawaii was one of those last few remaining unvisited states. We decided to go for my husband's 60th birthday and address the Pearl Harbor item on HIS Bucket List!

But, then, long airplane flights don't bother me. I go to Europe at least once, sometimes twice, a year.


heavenlymatch Posts : 2 Registered: 6/7/10
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Apr 22, 2011 1:12 AM Go to message in response to: Aunt

We don't feel entitled to a full blown white wedding, we want one. We were married in a court house for reasons which you have no compassion to understand.(Apparently a dying relative is not good enough for you) Why do we have any less right to a full blown wedding/reception than all the people who live together do. Also, many of them already have there homes set up and don't need to register but, they do and it's all perfectly acceptable. We have nothing more than bedroom furniture and are moving into our first home, again, for reasons you have no compassion for but, we will not be registering. Yes, life can be tough but, just because your "Reality Bites" doesn't mean ours has to. By the way, we have family and friends who love and support us and are looking forward to this long awaited celebration. If they don't have a problem with it, why do you?


Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Wedding vows renewal ideas
Posted: Apr 22, 2011 10:19 AM Go to message in response to: heavenlymatch

Dear HM,

" Why do we have any less right to a full blown wedding/reception than all the people who live together do."

Because a wedding is for single people getting married, not for already-married people pretending they are single.

" By the way, we have family and friends who love and support us and are looking forward to this long awaited celebration. If they don't have a problem with it, why do you? "

Great. Invite them. Don't invite me. I can't think of anything more tedious than watching people pretend they are a blushing bride and a nervous groom when that ship has already sailed.

Weddings are important. Real weddings. Fake weddings just devalue real weddings.

But, then, you are Entitled. The rules don't apply to you.


Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift
Subscribe to Brides magazine