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a renewal of vows celebration

Throughout the many centuries people have fallen in love. For those that travel the path of a long term relationship and enjoy the journey while finding their way through the challenges – I honour their courage and determination, their devotion and commitment because for most couples these are just some of the qualities that will have been necessary to be together over the years.

One of the most beautiful renewal of vows ceremonies I have witnessed was for a couple who had been married for twenty five years. They had had lots of fun together and they had survived many hardships within their marriage and years of parenting. They wanted to take some time out, have a holiday away from home and acknowledge, with a renewal of vows ceremony, their love and gratitude for each other… and the fact that they had made it despite the odds.  It was an intimate celebration with just the three of us. The words that we all spoke had been carefully thought about and the couple also left space for a spontaneous sharing of heartfelt words of love. They inspired me and my own relationship – that is one of the many joys of being a celebrant.

Celebrating a renewal of vows is a very special moment. It is a wonderful opportunity to give thanks for all that a couple have shared and also to affirm all that they are looking forward to.  It is a great time to laugh at all the funny things, reminisce on the highlights, reflect upon the sad times and name the strengths.

Whether it has been six months since they were married, five years or twenty since they declared their commitment, or they are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, it is a sacred moment when two people touch on the essence that holds them in sacred relationship.

ideas for a renewal of vows ceremony


Some couples will choose to hold a renewal of vows ceremony because they have been married elsewhere, usually overseas, and now wish to share a ceremony with their family and friends at home. For others it will be to honour an anniversary of their wedding day. There will be others who may not have been married yet still wish to celebrate a significant anniversary of meeting or of an earlier commitment ceremony.

What can be done? Anything goes. It can be similar to a unity or marriage ceremony (without the legal inclusions) or, like the ceremony Roger and I had earlier last year, it can be a weekend rich with ritual.

We hired two holiday cottages at a remote beachside village north of Coffs Harbour for the weekend and invited our closest friends. On the Friday night we shared a beautiful meal together and (with prior notice on the invitation) we sat around and informally discussed what it means to be in a personal and committed relationship, to be married, to be in a sacred union. Some friends had brought readings that inspired them, others spoke more spontaneously and others listened. Celebrant and close friend, Gayle McCosker, captured the essence with the acronym she penned for this occasion - Marriage: Magical Adventure Requiring Ritual, Intimacy and Grace Everyday. I loved this!

We held a more formal ceremony on the Saturday afternoon – we acknowledged the role that each partner plays and people spoke as to how our relationship over the eleven years had touched them. There were a few present who had witnessed our meeting and recalled stories from that time. Our vows were spontaneous words of gratitude and appreciation that we spoke in turn. I am happy to write that we both enjoyed this weekend tremendously – people have asked me: did it make a difference to our relationship? It is hard to put into words what happens at any ceremony where love and friendship are expressed in words and ritual but something beautiful unfolded and yes, it touched us all and the sharing of our inner world did add something to our lives and the lives of our friends and family.

If you are interested, our ceremony is related in full in the e-book, Ceremonies for the Renewal of Vows on page 11 and, by request, the tale of our meeting is published in my blog on St Valentine’s Day.

My first renewal of vows ceremony was for a couple who were married in Sweden. They had come to Coffs Harbour for the big ‘wedding’ celebration because their family lived there.  It was comparable to the traditional wedding ceremony in that the woman’s father walked her down the aisle, they both wore the same wedding attire as their original ceremony and they re-exchanged their wedding rings. However, instead of the legal vows, they included vows that affirmed their joy to be husband and wife and the lifelong commitment they made to each other. I spoke to the guests about the couple’s wedding in Sweden and they showed a brief, but beautiful, audio visual presentation that had been put together of the marriage ceremony that had been held in a small country church on a wintry day.

I recall another renewal of vows ceremony that was held on the beach with just the couple and their three young children to celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary. We started by building sandcastles before the ceremony… and the wife was in her original wedding dress! It was a very different ceremony to their wedding day and it was exactly what they wanted!

In whatever way the moment is celebrated the renewal of vows is a powerful ceremony that can have an impact upon the couple, their family and friends.  There are certainly fewer expectations around this ceremony than there are for a wedding ceremony so couples often feel more relaxed about finding their own unique and authentic way in which to express themselves.

How have you celebrated this special occasion? I would love to hear from you!
Wendy Haynes Signature

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"I have had the pleasure of stumbling across your site and was compelled to send you a message simply to say how truly inspiring you are Wendy. I am eagerly awaiting my AG accreditation which is due in the next couple of weeks. However, in all my researching and planning for my CMC role thus far, I've not come across any material or media that has met and further inspired my passion for embracing this new path until discovering wendyhaynes.com. It seems to me you arrange your words not unlike the most poetic and soulful musician might compose their innermost heartfelt piece of music. What a gift!" - Rebecca