Renewing your vows is such an epic and fun idea, but, like most things in the age of social media and the internet, there are a bunch of myths about it that throw people off. In this article I’m going to run through how to do a vow renewal, including how to do a vow renewal without an officiant (spoiler alert, you don’t need one). To finish off, I’ll look at the most commonly held false beliefs about vow renewals and break them down so you have a better starting ground to plan your day out.
What is a vow renewal?
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Just in case you are unfamiliar with the concept, a vow renewal is basically a commitment ceremony where you reaffirm a set of updated vows to your partner. Because you’re already married, there’s no legal component to the day. Because of this, you get to treat a vow renewal with a sense of flexibility and freedom that a wedding would not have. I don’t want to spend too much time explaining what is a vow renewal, so click here if you want to learn more about that.
How to do a vow renewal | A step-by-step guide
Planning a vow renewal doesn’t have to be difficult. I’m going to break down my 8 steps on how to do a vow renewal without stressing out! Let’s get started.
Step 1 | Create a budget
The first thing I want you to do, if you haven’t already, is click here to download my ultimate vow renewal guide, which has over 140 pages of info, but more importantly, a calculator which you can use to see exactly how much your vow renewal will cost. I highly recommend doing this alongside your partner. Work out what you prioritise, and dedicate your budget towards that.
Step 2 | What type of day do you want?
Vow Renewals are just as varied as weddings. You can have an adventure styled elopement themed vow renewal. You can have a traditional wedding styled vow renewal, you could have something lowkey, in your living room, or you could travel to a destination and go on an adventure. So what kind of day do you want? Laid back or adventurous? Traditional, or non traditional? Local, or destination? Put your answers together and let’s move on. If you’re not sure, I’ve put 2 videos below here, one is an elopement, one is a traditional wedding. The only difference with these is that they are legally binding (they are weddings), but this should give you an idea of what kind of day looks more appealing to you.
Step 3 | Book a photographer
Picking the right photographer can make or break your vow renewal. So how do you pick the right one? Jump on Instagram or Google and have a look at some photographers you like, shortlist 5-10. Next dive deeper on their websites, and see who you ‘vibe’ with, and cull that list down to 2-3. Send out personalised emails to them all, explaining your vision and as soon as you can, jump on a video call to get to know them. Once you’ve done this, and once you know who you want to book, don’t waste time, jump in and get them locked away. They will be a huge asset in terms of helping you plan this day out!
Step 4 | Pick a location
Now that you have a photographer all booked in, my suggestion is to utilise their knowledge and experience, and figure out a location you would like to have your ceremony in. It’s ok if you have no idea, that’s what we are here for. But this is a good time to think about a location. Do you want to do mountains? A beach? Are you set on a destination like Melbourne, Byron Bay or Tasmania? It’s ok to have your location picked, and it’s ok to have no idea, we are here to help.
Step 5 | Pick a date
You can actually pick your date before your location, if you want to. It totally depends when you want to renew your vows. For some people it’s really important that it be summer, or winter. For whatever reason. So with this in mind, it may influence your decision on the location you want to renew your vows in. Either way now is the time to pick your date, lock it in with your photographer (who will help you if you need it) and get onto that home stretch.
Step 6 | Guests or no guests?
I suggest sitting down with your partner, and being honest about what you want. For example, if you want your parents, siblings and best friends there, and they want no one, there’s going to need to be some major compromise. Something else to consider here is that having guests, or not having guests will impact the overall logistics of your vow renewal. Generally speaking, the less guests you have, the more adventurous (or destination) you can make the day. The more people you involve, the more simple you will need to make the day.
Step 7 | Vendors or no vendors?
One of the major points of contention when it comes to doing a vow renewal is whether or not you bring in vendors to help with the day. Some vendors will be more common than others, such as photographers. Whereas celebrants, I would suggest are less common. When it comes to how to do a vow renewal without an officiant, your best place to turn is probably your photographer. They should guide you through the process.
Again, to vendor, or not comes back to whether you want a ‘wedding’ style vow renewal, or an ‘elopement’ style vow renewal. The former is much more likely to have a lot of vendors required to pull it off. The latter can be done with a small handful, even just 1 vendor. So sit down with your partner and work it out. What would you prefer, and what does your budget allow?
Step 8 | Creating a timeline
This is the final step in planning your vow renewal, and the good news is, I will do it for you. You don’t have to do anything. At this stage I have all the information I need to know what you want, and what you don’t, so I will create a draft timeline. Once you’ve run your eyes over it and provided feedback, I’ll draft it up again. We will continue this process until you are in love with how your day looks. This is the pivotal step in how to do a vow renewal, getting the day and the Runsheet sorted.
How to do a vow renewal | Busting the myths about vow renewal
There are all sorts of pervasive myths surround what a vow renewal is, how to do a vow renewal, why you would do a vow renewal, honestly, the list goes on. So let’s get into it and break them down.
Do you need witnesses for a vow renewal?
No, you do not. Remember that your vow renewal is not a legally binding ceremony, unlike a wedding or elopement. The most common question I get is ‘how to do a vow renewal without an officiant’, and there’s your answer. Does it mean you can’t have a celebrant for your vow renewal? No, of course you can, but it’s totally up to you. Do you want someone to help run your ceremony? Are you having guests? If yes, then maybe you’ll want one, if no, probably avoid it.
Do you need guests?
No, you do not need guests at your vow renewal. This comes down purely to personal preference. Do you want to share your vows and your day with others? If so, invite guests. Why are you doing a vow renewal? These are the questions to ask yourself. The answer as to whether you should have guests or not will become clear to you.
Do you need to book a venue?
It totally depends on the type of vow renewal you want to have. If you are looking for that wedding style vow renewal, then yes, you might want to consider booking a wedding venue to host you. Maybe you don’t want a wedding styled renewal, but you still want a venue to host your day so you can have a dinner reception with your guests, a wet weather option etc. In this case, yes, book a venue. But you do not need a venue for a vow renewal. You could do a vow renewal in your bathtub or at the local McDonalds if you wanted too. The worlds your oyster, take your pick.
Do you need paperwork?
No. In this guide I’ve shown you how to do a vow renewal without an officiant, which of course means you do not need any paperwork. There are no wait periods like you had when you got married. You can do this on a whim if you want, anywhere you want, with whomever you want.
Do you need a celebrant to do a vow renewal?
No, I just want to make that clear. You do not need a celebrant or an officiant to do a vow renewal. You can have one if you wish, but they are not required.
Does it have to be a major milestone to have a vow renewal?
No. You can have your vow renewal any time you want. It could of course be a major milestone anniversary like 10, 20 or 25 years. But it could be any other anniversary. 2 years, 6 years, whatever you want. In fact, it could be in between anniversaries, there are no rules around when you can and cannot do a vow renewal, so do it whenever you feel you want too.
Does it have to be formal attire like a wedding?
Absolutely not. You can do it in boardshorts and thongs. You could wear a cocktail dress and smart casual suit. Or you could also wear wedding attire (old or new). Again, there are no rules.
What does a vow renewal look like?