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The Ultimate Vow Renewal Guide

June 20th 2022
The Ultimate Vow Renewal Guide

Your wedding was one thing, but a year (or maybe 20 years!) later, you may be interested in celebrating and reigniting the flames of your love. This is where a vow renewal comes in. Simply put, a vow renewal is a celebration of your marriage and commemoration of your love.

There are many reasons couples choose to have vow renewal ceremonies.

Sandals Emerald Bay Sunset Couple Anniversary

These reasons include not having had the dream wedding they previously envisioned and wanting to do it right this time around, overcoming a rough patch and wishing to recommit to each other, hitting a milestone anniversary, growing in love, or just wanting to commemorate their marriage in a grandiose way.

Whatever the case, vow renewals are all about celebrating love!

If you’re considering a vow renewal celebration keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules, so you have lots of room to get creative. Even if you’re not sure where to start, take our hand, and let love (or in this case our vow renewal guide) lead the way!

Expert tip: A vow renewal is the perfect 5th-year anniversary gift or 10th-year anniversary gift, but there’s really no limit on when you can start planning this incredible ceremony.

Steps for planning your vow renewal:

1. Decide who you want to invite

One of the most difficult tasks involved with planning a traditional wedding is deciding who you want to invite. If you’re having an intimate vow renewal ceremony, it's best to include only close friends and family. For larger events, you can invite extended family and more friends. Your guest list should ideally be a reflection of the kind of ceremony you’d like to have. Work colleagues and general acquaintances don’t really need to be included in your guest list.

Sandals Reception Guests

There can be many factors to consider when determining who will and won’t get an invite to your special day. Vow renewals are typically smaller affairs, but your ceremony can be as inclusive or intimate as you want. Many couples choose to renew their vows in front of their closest family and friends, while others decide on a heftier guest list that rivals (or surpasses) that of their original wedding! If you have a particular venue in mind for your vow renewal, you should take the venue’s capacity into account when deciding how many people to invite.

2. Choose a location

The first step to planning any special event is weighing the venue options. For a vow renewal ceremony, you should also consider whether you want to travel or have a ceremony close to home. Some couples choose to have simple celebrations at home, at a local church, or at a restaurant they love. Others celebrate in grand style with cruises or destination vow renewal ceremonies.

Sandals Dunn River Beach

Destination vow renewal ceremonies have the additional benefit of allowing you and your spouse to share a new experience, and maybe even recreate some of your most precious wedding or honeymoon moments. At Sandals' all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, you can have your vow renewal ceremony on the beach or in another picturesque location on the property. Location-wise, the main things to think about are romantic appeal and/or sentimental value. Once you factor these things in, you’ll be well on your way to selecting a venue that’s perfect for you.

Insider tip: Looking for some tropical ambiance for your vow renewal ceremony? Sandals has several resorts in beautiful Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Curaçao, and Antigua. The special events teams at any of these resorts will help take away some of the stresses of planning your destination vow renewal ceremony!

3. Choose a date and send your invitations

Once you have chosen a date for your vow renewal ceremony, you’ll be shocked by how quickly things move from there. The next thing you will need to do is design your wedding invitations (be sure to add the date and location of your ceremony) and send them out to your guests. Much like wedding invitations, your vow renewal ceremony invites will simply request the presence of the invited guests for the reaffirmation or renewal of your wedding vows.

Save The Date Wedding Vows

Image credit: efeyldrmkn/

Don’t forget to let your guests know how formal or casual the ceremony will be and let this be reflected in your choice of invitation style. If dinner or cocktails will be included, be sure to state that. You may also want to indicate if your ceremony will conclude with a champagne toast and cake.

4. Pick your outfit

Dress up or dress down for your vow renewal ceremony - it’s entirely up to you. Some people try to recreate their wedding as much as possible for this often-small ceremony, while others go for a more simple or unique look and style. More on this in our FAQs later on in this post.

Sandals Montego Bay Couple Wedding Boat

5. Meet with your officiant

Are you planning to have an officiant at your vow renewal ceremony? Some people choose to do this, but it isn’t a requirement. As a vow renewal isn’t a legally binding ceremony, just about anyone can preside over your ceremony including an old friend, or perhaps even a bridesmaid or groomsman from your original wedding. The role of the officiant, official or not, is to host the ceremony, and if it's someone close to you, they can share (with your input and permission) some of the experiences of your married life. Guests can also contribute well wishes or other readings before you exchange vows.

Sandals Montego Bay Wedding Vows Groom Group

Expert tip: It’s a good idea to speak with your ‘officiant’ ahead of the event so you can execute things smoothly on the day. Discuss expectations in advance.

6. Consider the agenda for your vow renewal ceremony

Vow renewal ceremonies are usually held to celebrate and reaffirm wedding vows. Typically, couples would exchange vows, and maybe even read their old vows again to the one they love. Some people choose to write new vows, or just add some things to their old vows which better reflect where they are in the present day. After that, rings are usually exchanged, whether they be new or the original rings with new engravings. Readings are sometimes done by friends, relatives, or children, with music chosen specifically for sentimental value playing in the background, helping everyone recall those precious moments of the past.

Sandals Wedding Vows Couple Bride Detail

7. Write your vows

Do you still have your vows from your original wedding ceremony? If you do, this is a great starting point for your new vows! You’ll want to make your vows just as personal, warm, and loving as you did on your wedding day. Tell your love story and detail how your love has grown over time. Reaffirm some of the promises you made to each other, include experiences you both remember fondly, write about things you’ve overcome together, and explain what you’ve learned together and from each other. Be sure to underscore how much you love each other, and your commitment to continuing to support each other along life’s road. The most important thing is to ensure that your vows really are a true reflection of your union and your love.

Sandals Gazeebo Wedding

8. Enjoy the big day (and your possible honeymoon afterward)

It might take a bit of planning to get your vow renewal ceremony just right (or it could be hassle-free if you’re staying at a resort like Beaches or Sandals for your destination vow renewal event), but once all the planning is done, you can celebrate the love you have for the person you’ve committed to spending your life with. Let every moment of this experience sink in, as it really is a blessing that you two have made it this far!

The benefits of renewing your vows at Sandals Resorts

Vow renewal ceremonies at Sandals are just as exquisite as the experience of staying at the resort itself. You can expect to have your own personal planning team, a signature Red Lane® Spa discount, and special ‘bells & whistles’ according to the size of your renewal group/guest list. Other ceremony inclusions are the various unique locations available on the property (including many breathtaking natural backdrops), bouquet boutonnieres, a bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere of fuchsia dendrobium orchids, white cushioned Chiavari chairs for all guests, a pre-recorded musical accompaniment of your choice, a complimentary commemorative Retie the Knot certificate, and a complimentary 5"x7" wedding photo.

Sandals Wedding Vows Couple

The list goes on with wonderful reception inclusions like cake (a single-tiered white fondant wedding cake with fuchsia Dendrobium orchids), options of a table setting with crisp white linens, white china, shining silverware, and sparkling crystal, a cocktail reception with sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres, and the Bride and Groom signature cocktail.

Honeymoon inclusions as part of the Sandals vow renewal package are breakfast in bed with mimosas on any morning of your choice, romantic turndown service with flower petals on the first evening of your honeymoon, and a honeymoon dinner at a specialty restaurant.

Vow Renewal FAQs:

What is a vow renewal?

Vow renewals are wedding-like ceremonies typically held by married couples wishing to reaffirm their love. Many couples choose to have ceremonies of this nature to demonstrate their continued commitment and love. These are most often held on milestone anniversaries, like 10, 25, or 50 years, although some couples choose to have their vow renewal ceremonies sooner, or even annually.

Why do couples renew their vows?

Some couples choose to renew their vows to showcase their love, commitment, and appreciation for their spouse. Others may see it as an opportunity to have a more elaborate ceremony than they were able to have before, to share their love with friends after an elopement, or to rebuild bonds after infidelity or some other type of rough patch. Some couples choose to have these ceremonies after someone within the union overcomes an illness, or they overcome something else together.

Whatever the reason, vow renewal ceremonies are a great way to fan the flames of love and prove to your significant other that they are still that happy ending for you, no matter how hard things might get. Whether 2, 5, 10, 25, or 50 years into your marriage, a vow renewal ceremony is a great way to celebrate the triumphs of your union and the fruits of your love with your loved ones or between yourselves.

How soon can you renew your vows?

It is never too early or too late to renew your vows. You can have a ceremony of this nature as early as the day after your wedding, though it is more common to renew vows at least one year after your wedding. Many couples choose to have their vow renewal ceremonies years later, within the first 5 years of their wedding to upwards of 30 or 40 years down the line. Some couples choose to renew their vows every year. This really depends on your preference!

Do you need a license for a vow renewal?

There aren’t any legalities tied to a vow renewal like there are for a regular wedding. In most places, the U.S. especially, a vow renewal is a ceremonial event. You won’t have to think about getting a license to do this, or even having a minister, pastor, or officiant as you would with a traditional wedding. You are free to have your vow renewal ceremony just about anywhere you can think of! This is why many couples today choose to have destination vow renewal ceremonies, which can include their family. There’s also the option to go the couples-only route at all-inclusive beach resorts like Sandals. Since there’s no requirement to have a minister or officiant involved, you’ll be able to have a friend preside over the ceremony.

How elaborate should a vow renewal be?

Just as elaborate as you’d like it to be! This varies from couple to couple, just as the reasons couples choose to renew their vows and when they decide to do so also vary. Perhaps you didn’t get to have the sort of wedding ceremony you really wanted for financial or other reasons, and really want to do it big this time. This kind of motivation would probably result in a more elaborate ceremony. Some couples may opt for simplicity after having grandiose weddings where they felt that the focus was on everyone and everything else except them. Most vow renewal ceremonies tend to be intimate though, with just close family and friends included.

Should you have a vow renewal ‘wedding party’?

Some couples go for a vow renewal wedding party, but this is not a must. If you are inviting family and friends to your vow renewal ceremony, plan to do something afterward to celebrate. A dinner or another special event would do the trick. Some couples have larger parties or receptions that require more planning, but this depends on personal preference. It is worth noting that vow renewal ceremonies are not a second wedding, so lavish receptions and parties are not a must.

Do you need rings for a vow renewal?

Some couples choose to include rings as part of their vow renewal ceremonies. Whether new or old, if you choose to include rings, they will serve as a symbol of your still-present love and commitment to each other. If you’re thinking of getting new rings, consider your vow renewal ceremony as the perfect opportunity for an upgrade.

If you’re using present rings, you can add new engravings like the date of your vow renewal, or even a quote or another special message. If you go for new rings, you can choose rings you can wear alongside your old ones or rings that will entirely replace your old ones.

Who walks you down the aisle?

Since vow renewal ceremonies are not as ‘official’ as weddings, you can make the rules as you go along. Have your adult children, a friend, or a family member walk you down the aisle, or the two of you can walk down together. Whatever you choose to do, it’s perfectly alright.

Should you have a reception after your vow renewal?

After vow renewal ceremonies, couples typically either go for small dinners with their guests or more elaborate parties or receptions. More casual vow renewal receptions can include backyard barbecues and family dinners, or if you want to get fancy, you can consider a cocktail party or large dinner event. Larger post vow renewal events give more friends and family a chance to participate and make toasts on your behalf. You’ll also be able to thank specific people who’ve contributed to your union over the years. Whether small or large, it’s worth having a reception to celebrate after your vow renewal ceremony.

Expert tip: For more intimate receptions, you can bring along family or wedding photo albums to share with friends and family. This is also a good option if you’ve recently eloped as you’ll be able to share photos of the ceremony with loved ones.

Should we have photographers and music for our vow renewal?

You’ll definitely want to capture the memories of your vow renewal ceremony, even if it's small and casual. If you’re inviting friends and family, you can designate someone as the ‘official’ photographer or hire a professional. For ceremonies with just the two of you, you may want to get a photographer to take photos of you two before, during, or after the event that you can cherish forever. How much you’ll invest in photography really depends on the kind of ceremony you’re having, or the sort of photos you’re expecting. When it comes to music, you can either hire a professional DJ or just plug in a preprogrammed playlist from your iPod.

Insider tip: Your Sandals planning team will take care of all the details for your vow renewal ceremony including a Sandals wedding photographer, so all you’ll need to think about is getting dressed and showing up!

What should you wear to your vow renewal?

Many brides choose to simplify things a bit with vow renewal ceremonies. Many choose not to go the route of the white dress but still want to look elegant and as amazing as they did on their big day. On the other hand, some brides enjoy the idea of getting back into their old wedding gowns, which signified the start of a beautiful union. If your dress still fits, this could be a perfect option! Otherwise, you can go for a cocktail dress, or a formal evening gown (in whichever color you like), while your groom complements you perfectly with an expertly tailored suit. What you’ll wear to your vow renewal depends on how formal your ceremony will be, and this depends on individual taste!

Expert tip: A veil isn’t necessary for a vow renewal, though you can wear one if you wish. You can go for a hat or flowers in your hair, which is just as lovely. A groom that is wearing his wedding day tuxedo can spice things up with some new accessories like cuff links, gifted jewelry, and a new tie or vest.

Should you have a vow renewal registry?

Most couples do not go the route of setting up a vow renewal registry. This is more commonly done for newlyweds to help them start off their lives together. If your guests really want to give you something, it really and truly should be their choice. You can also suggest that they make donations to a charity that you support if you want to add another special feature to your special day.

Are honeymoons allowed after a vow renewal?

Definitely! Honeymoons are a great idea for couples renewing vows, especially those who may not have had a chance to get away for a honeymoon after their wedding. Even if you did enjoy an amazing honeymoon getaway, having another along with your vow renewal is an awesome way to recreate some of those memories. Combine your vow renewal and honeymoon into one trip at Caribbean resorts like Beaches, which are ideal for families, or Sandals resorts, which are all about couples celebrating love. Both of these resorts offer vow-renewal packages that will leave most of your ceremony planning in the hands of the experts!

Are bachelor and bachelorette parties appropriate before a vow renewal?

Probably not. Vow renewal ceremonies are typically for couples that are already married, which means there’s no need for a last “hoorah”.

You make the rules for your romantic vow renewal!

Regardless of how awesome your first wedding may have been, a vow renewal gives you the chance for an epic do-over. All the nervousness you may have experienced the first time around will be replaced with a sense of accomplishment. Your marriage has come this far and the two of you deserve a celebration of your continued commitment to each other.

Sandals Beach Golden Hour Couple

It can be a great idea to renew your vows during a romantic couples getaway! You can exchange vows in an Over-the-Water chapel against the backdrop of a gorgeous Caribbean sunset or you can have an elegant Royal Tea Party-style wedding in a lush garden complete with a reflecting pool. If you’re looking for an amazing vow renewal destination, you can consider couples-oriented all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas, all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, or the much talked about all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia. There are also some great Sandals all-inclusive resorts in Barbados, an all-inclusive resort in Curaçao, and a standout Sandals all-inclusive resort in Antigua. Don’t count out the Spice Isle, as Sandals all-inclusive resorts in Grenada might be just what you’re looking for to rekindle your love.

You’re all set to walk into your happily ever after, all over again! Make sure your ceremony, whether small or more elaborate is unique and meaningful while serving the purpose of commemorating your love as you seal your commitment once again.

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