We don’t have to tell you that marrying your partner is a big deal. Outside of all the time and energy that goes into planning a wedding, there’s also the whole committing to someone for the rest of your life thing. For some, choosing to reaffirm that commitment years later is just as meaningful—and in some cases even more so—than saying “I do” the first time around. We asked five couples why they decided to renew, and every single story here will move you—to tears or toward another trip to the altar yourself.
An Intimate Backyard Ceremony for Friends and Family
When Carin Gilfry and her husband tied the knot, they did so at New York city hall. It was just them, the officiant, a close friend, and their friend’s baby. Both families knew that the wedding was happening, but the ceremony was meant to be intimate, simple, and quick.
“It was incredible to just be the two of us, but we knew our families felt left out,” says Carin. “At one point, my brother said something like, ‘I know you guys got married, but you didn't promise to love each other in front of your family so we can't really hold you accountable.’”
The comment was said in jest, but the two decided to act on it. On their one-year anniversary, after their first daughter was born, they had a vow renewal ceremony in Carin’s parents’ backyard. In a way, it was more like an official wedding—complete with caterer, photographer, band, cake, and dancing.
“Best of all,” Carin says, “my husband held our little baby throughout the whole ceremony. She snuggled into his chest and smiled. Our family got to see us promise to love each other in front of them after all.”
A Cheesy Renewal With Elvis and a T-Shirt Tux
You can’t have a picture-perfect traditional wedding and Elvis, too—or can you? Emily L. Foley and her husband made both happen.
“We renewed our vows 100 percent for the experience," says Emily. "I have literally always wanted to get married with Elvis, but we had a traditional church wedding the first time around, so I’ve been saying for years I wanted to renew our vows in Vegas."
As 10 years got closer, they decided to go for it. In October 2018, the two made their way to Sin City—sans kids—and indulged in some much-needed quality couple time.
"We gambled, ate incredible food, went to several shows, and had a luxurious spa experience," Emily says. "And then, of course, got married with Elvis.” To really lean in, Emily wore a white fringe jumpsuit, and her husband donned a tux T-shirt and a Pac-Man blazer. “The entire trip was amazing for us and our relationship," says Emily. "Fantastically cheesy and really special. Just fun all the way around.”
A Joyful Celebration of 50 Years Together
Victor and Elisa Sheronas were married in June 1965. When their 50-year anniversary rolled around in 2015, both recognized that the accomplishment—and their love—was worth a blowout bash.
“Our relationship has not been without challenges, many of them recent health issues, but I feel blessed to have a husband who held my hand and had my back,” says Elisa. The couple raised five children together, had several unique business experiences, and earned graduate degrees; Elisa's at age 71. "All that was possible because we respect each other, and promised to do all we can to help each other attain our life goals.”
The renewal took place at Elisa’s alma mater, Rosemont College, with their parish pastor and a guest list of all their favorite people.
“It reminded us of that day in 1965 when we started our life together, and all the things we felt back then," says Elisa.
What a lovely way to break up the routine of being in their 70s, the couple agreed, "to remember what it was like to be in our 20s and those reasons we had for spending the rest of our lives together that are still inspiring the daily renewal of our commitment," Elisa says. "It gave us a renewed appreciation for each other that I hope will keep us close until death do us part.”
A Once-Every-Five-Years Tradition
For Katie Hammel and her husband, the decision to renew their vows started as a half-joking suggestion. She’d had a blast planning the wedding, and after the big day wrapped up, threw out a, “Hey, we should do that again.” Five years later they did.
“I brought the idea back up and realized I had more serious reasons,” says Katie. “I've always believed that, while falling in love might be something that just happens, staying in love is something you choose to do. I wanted to reaffirm my choice to recommit to choosing my husband.”
Their first renewal took place in Napa, California, with just each other. Her husband put on a suit, grabbed a bottle of sparkling wine with two glasses, and headed out to meet his dressed-up wife at a picturesque wooden swing against a vineyard backdrop. After reaffirming their vows, they sat on the swing and talked about the last five years—the ups, downs, successes, failures, hopes, and expectations.
When another five years passed, they did the same thing—only this time in Greece overlooking the Arcadian mountains with a bottle of Greek red.
“It's good to remind ourselves how lucky we are, to celebrate our love, and to have these check-ins in a more in-depth way,” says Katie. “My husband and I do lots of little things every day to show each other love, but life gets busy and we don't always make time for these larger conversations. Committing to every five years keeps us on track and these conversations more at the forefront than they might be otherwise.”
A Renewal That Ended Up Meaning More Than Ever Imagined
Deanne and her husband, Michael Ziegert, met in 1995 and remained friends until 2003 when he worked up the courage to finally ask her out. A romance-filled whirlwind of a year later, the two became engaged and married. About eight years later, Michael went into cardiac arrest.
“That was one of the hardest days of my life,” says Deanne. “When I got to the hospital, they let me see Michael. While with him, I said a prayer to God asking, ‘If you don’t need him now, please leave him here with me. I need him.’”
Michael survived. As their 10-year anniversary rounded a corner, they decided to renew their vows in Huntington Beach, California.
“It was a beautiful tribute to our faith, love, and commitment to each other during all kinds of times," says Deanne. The ceremony was simple, with the couple writing new vows and presenting them to each other on the beach in front of good friends.
Sadly, Michael passed away several years later in 2017.
“Michael was always my biggest cheerleader," says Deanne. "I lost the love of my life, but he will be with me forever. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, but I know he's in a wonderful place and we will meet again someday. I am so glad we renewed our love for each other that day, as it will forever be etched in my heart.”