Planning a Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony

by Reader Contributors

Planning a Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony photo

Yes, I will marry you again! Our readers offer tips for planning a wedding vow renewal ceremony on a reasonable budget.

Hi Gary,
My husband and I eloped when we got married many moons ago. We always wanted to have a “real” wedding. I would like to plan a vow renewal ceremony.

The only thing is I’m not sure how to go about doing it. We are on a very tight budget and plus I don’t know the “guidelines” for a vow renewal ceremony! I’d love tips and advice from your readers. All suggestions are welcome.

Vow Renewal Ceremony: Do It Your Way

We, too, renewed our wedding vows. It was a wonderful experience! My best advice is that you should do what you want to do! You are not held by convention on this ceremony, so you really don’t have “rules” to follow.

We invited our family and friends to a Thursday evening ceremony. We spoke with the preacher about what we wanted and he did a short ceremony for us. Then, we each read vows we had written from our heart. It was a very touching and memorable ceremony.

As for all the details, I had a beautiful, creamy colored evening gown that I had worn once for another occasion. I got my hair done that morning and picked up the bouquet that I had ordered a week earlier. Then, I slipped away and had formal portraits done of myself alone as a surprise for my husband for Christmas!

Hubby wore his best suit. After the ceremony, everyone went to a local restaurant for dinner. It was a great evening and special for husband and me. We have been to ceremonies that were very much like traditional weddings, complete with grandchildren and children and 40 years worth of friends and family.

Here is wishing you years of happiness in your life together!

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Vow Renewal Ceremony: Keep It Simple

I renewed my vows on a budget. We had the reception in the church hall and didn’t have to pay as long as it was left clean.

Instead of gifts, we asked the people to bring a covered dish. When some called and asked what we needed, I told them paper plates. Others brought paper cups and punch. I also fixed a ham and a turkey. These were cut thin and served on plates. We bought rolls at a bread store and all else was furnished. So, the food was inexpensive.

We bought a roll of white paper from a paper company. By doing this, we got it cheaper. This was spread over the tables. We made our flowers with silk flowers and bought the forms at a craft store. The men had a bud, with ribbon wrapped around it. A friend made the cake and it was nice.

Beauty of the Budget

There are just as many “guidelines” to planning a vow renewal ceremony as there are for wedding ceremonies. The options, from the vows to the venue, are completely up to you. Generally the actual service is similar to the traditional wedding service.

Many people who have performed marriage ceremonies have also performed renewal ceremonies and are familiar with a renewal service. If you cannot find a service that you like, search the Internet. You can piece together the things that you like about each service and make one for yourself. There really are no rules. You are already married. There is no reason to hire someone licensed to perform a ceremony unless you would prefer to. Find a significant person in your family or circle of friends who would be willing to perform the service.

As far as a location, contact your city/county parks department to find out if you need a permit to hold a small gathering at a local park, beach or landmark. For something small, I would expect them to allow the event with no problem. You can decorate a picnic pavilion to be a quaint place to have the “reception”. Even better, if you have a family member or friend who has a nice backyard, ask to borrow that for the ceremony. This could also lead to a free reception location, too! Just try to find other friends/family members to help that person clean/set up and take everything down and clean afterwards.

As far as your attire, you have some options. You can buy a new dress. This is possibly the most expensive option. Assuming that you do not plan on wearing a formal wedding dress, you can keep the cost to under $100. A less expensive option would be to go to a consignment store. If you go to one specializing in weddings, you can search through the Bridesmaids and Mother-of-the-Bride dresses and probably find a beautiful dress for pennies on the dollar. The least expensive option would be to borrow a dress from a friend.

Your husband’s (and your child’s, for that matter) attire could be a consignment suit or one that he already owns.

I would suggest having the event at a time no where near a traditional mealtime. Skip the hours between 11am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm. Those attending will expect a meal. Try a 2:00 or a 7:30pm service where the foods served would be cake, punch, mints, and nuts.

Speaking of a cake, skip the fancy specialty stores. You can do pretty well at your local supermarket. You can request that a sheet cake be decorated like a wedding cake. Sit down with the decorator and discuss what you want. Find pictures of designs that you like and ask the decorator if the design could be duplicated for a sheet cake. You are generally not limited to the styles shown in the little books at supermarkets. Your decorator probably has talents beyond what is shown to the public. To keep costs down further, you can ask a family member or a friend to make the cake for you.

As far as flowers go, stop by the floral department of the same supermarket. The floral designer in the store can order nearly any type of flower that you like and make a simple tied bouquet for you for only a few dollars.

Depending on your priorities and budget, you could rent an arch as a focal point of the ceremony, rent chairs for your guests, buy candles that match your home décor to use as a unity candle, buy inexpensive champagne for a toast, hire a photographer (or contact a local college for a photography student).

Vow Renewal Ceremony: Plans Similar to an Anniversary Party

You might think along the lines of what you’d do for an anniversary party. For my in-laws 50th anniversary party, we borrowed linens, punch bowl and cups, and a couple of floral arrangements from the church. We purchased inexpensive items to help decorate, like gold glitter and ribbon for the table tops, a large bow for the door, gold balloons and ribbon that we could curl, and two large floral arrangements.

We made the punch and sauce for the pre-made meatballs we purchased. We had the grocery store deli do sandwiches, a fruit tray, and a meat/cheese tray. A lady in a nearby town made the cake. Ladies from the church served punch and cake and helped with set up/clean up. This way we saved on paying someone to do it! No expensive servers for us!

Invitations can be hand done on simple but pretty paper. They could also be done inexpensively on the computer.

Reviewed June 2021

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