Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why renew your vows unless you've BROKEN THEM?

Hey East Side Bride!

I've been following your blog for a long time and I've always loved your thoughts and advice. I got married in February of this year and my husband and I were thinking about renewing our vows and having our closest friends over for a party on our 1 year anniversary. He thinks it's a great idea but I'm worried it might be too cheesy to renew our vows every year. I don't want it to seem too self-indulgent, as if I have to have another "wedding" every year! Of COURSE we will NOT ask for/accept gifts and we won't have bridesmaids or groomsmen or anything. Just a quick ceremony and then party. What are your thoughts?


Hey Anonymous,

Funny you should ask... I was just ranting about this the other day. A vow renewal implies -- to me -- that someone has broken a vow. (See: Madonna and Guy Ritchie) The concept originated with couples who were rebuilding their marriages. It skeeves me out that people have started to use it as an excuse to plan what is essentially a second wedding, egged on by consumer-oriented wedsites like The Knot that offer helpful advice like "Either engrave your original bands with something new (perhaps the date of your vow renewal or a cute sentiment like "I Love You, Part II") or purchase new rings expressly for the reaffirmation -- there's never a bad time to upgrade jewelry!"


I get that you're not trying to have another wedding. So I say throw a badass anniversary party and let it be just that: an anniversary party. Unless you (or your husband) feel a pressing need, I'd leave the vow renewal out of it.


(Photo by Paolo Roversi via .v via this is glamorous)


  1. I just love the whole astringent thing.

  2. So THAT'S why vow renewals have always given me the creeps, I knew I didn't approve I just hadn't figured out why.

  3. Maybe I am sappy, but I think that a PRIVATE vow renewal would be nice, but agree that doing it in from of people (unless 20, 30, 40 years have gone by) is a little weird.

  4. well. I never thought about that til now. renewing vows sort of implies that vows expire, like a driver's license. interesting.

  5. For our 5 or 10 year anniversary I would like to renew our vows in Mexico, we wanted to do a destination wedding but it didn't quite happen.
    just closest friends and family.

    more like an awesome vacation than a second wedding...

  6. renewing marriage vows: not so much.

    renewing vows to vanquish your enemies: hell yes.

  7. lauren, sometimes your comments are a little inappropriate for a wedding blog.


  8. these renaissance faire flashbacks are so inconvenient.

    As Miss Manners says, "The problem with renewing vows is it implies that their was an option NOT to renew."

    Be proud that' you're already married. Be the adult that you are. HAVE A F*CKING ANNIVERSARY PARTY and be PROUD of that. You've been married for a year. Now THAT is something to celebrate.

  10. I think a vow renewal is appropriate if you have been married for a very long time and your marriage has weathered many storms and you find, as most anyone would, that you're not the same people you were when you married and that your marriage needs to become a priority again in a way that it couldn't be while you were raising your children, working to buy a house, establishing your career, etc, etc. After 30 years of marriage I think you've earned the right to renew your vows and inject new life into your commitment to one another.

    After one year of marriage, I think a really fun anniversary celebration, maybe with a really thoughtful toast to one another and to your family and friends would fulfill the same need, if that makes sense.

  11. yes.. f vow renewals..

    and seriously.. we all know we'll have an opportunity for a 'second wedding'.. he's just a first husband!!

    just sayin.

  12. My parents celebrate 35 years next month. A vow renewal would cheapen the accomplishment of honoring one set of vows for 35 years, storms included. Just sayn'.

    Joy: Heeee.

  13. I think each to their own. If people want to have a celebration which renews their vows then fine. Perhaps reaffirm their vows is better, I don't know.

    But equally, as with everything, if it doesn't sit well with you, then have an anniversary party.

    I like the idea of having a 1st anniversary party, but with so many other weddings to attend next summer, I suspect our friends will all be sick of weddings of any sort.

    But Husband and I will most definitely be celebrating.

  14. ESB: I'm a frequent lurker on this blog, and this post finally prompted me to comment. I could not agree MORE with your response. And it is so refreshing to see so many other commenters agreeing, as well. Basically I just ditto what everyone has already said about vows. No renewals needed.

  15. Could not agree more. I almost thought she OP was joking. Seriously what need is there to renew so soon?! Surely the love is still fresh?! Party = yes, intimate evening together = yes but renewal = no!

  16. Vow renewals, especially so soon, just reek of the desire to plan another wedding, which is an idea that horrifies me. (I want to be all "to each her own" but seriously, another wedding? Oh man.) An awesome anniversary party I can get behind.

  17. "Engrave your original bands with I Love you part 2" - Mkay then. The knot drives me insane.

  18. i thought the idea of a wedding is that the vows are forever!?!?!

    never heard of this renewel thing and i
    don't get the point of doing it again.

    anniversary party is a great idea of course.

  19. Hear, hear, ESB.

    And I'm with you, Meg, to me a vowel renewal implies starting afresh, which almost negates the previous 35 (or in this case 1) years.

    But anniversary party... rock it.

  20. i really don't know why we don't mock the knot more on here. unless, you know. it's just cause you assume everyone already knows they're the devil.

    i get the whole vow renewal thing. it's like saying, "yeah, even after __ years and all that crap we've been through, we'd still do it all over again."

    there's this annoying assumption that newlyweds don't know what they're in for, that they're in this dreamy cloud of naivete. to be older, wiser, more experienced in the realm of marriage maybe adds another dimension to the vows. like, "now i get what i've signed up for, and i'm still hangin around."

    it makes me think of this couple i know. they're 80something, and he still introduces her as "my bride" rather than "my wife." it doesn't negate the 50+ years they've been married. it just makes me think that even after all they've been through, he's still as happy as he was on his wedding day.

  21. agreeeeeeeeed!

    i don't understand how weddings got dragged into the "need to have a party" mentality. can't you just have a party? why does it have to surround your marriage/anniversary/ etc.?

    just throw yourself a party! there doesn't need to be a reason.

  22. I never liked the idea of vow renewals either even before I read what Miss Manners had to say.

    What happened to anniversary parties anyway?!

  23. My husband and I are having a 'second wedding' because my Mother and Sister both were too ill to attend our first one. We were married in Canada, and they couldn't do the drive. My father was very ill and died two months later, so we knew we couldn't reschedule our wedding to allow my Mother and Sister to attend. Obviously ours is a special case, but you never know, people can be having 'renewals' for deeply personal reasons, that have nothing to do with a party.

  24. It always makes me think they've expired. Like, "Crap, we forgot to renew before the expiration date and now we have to pay a fine!" But that could just be the fact that I currently owe over $15 to the library and I'm embarrassed to go in and pay it off.

  25. I went to my fiance's grandparents vow renewals (and his 80th birthday party at the same time). It was incredibly sweet to watch them say those vows again with just as much passion and love in their eyes as they did 60 years before..then they cut cake and fed it to each other.

    I'm with you on the idea that vow renewals after a year or so is self indulgent and obnoxious...but after 60 years, a war, kids, grandkids's a nice way to say "we still mean it".

  26. i'm all about renewing vowels. that e really didn't kern the way i wanted it to the first time.

  27. Yup. Agreed.

    Though, I would add that I think vow renewals are useful for people who feel that what they promised say, 20 years ago, has changed. Then I'm not so creeped out by it

  28. It can certainly be a sweet ceremony for those who have something to renew. But for couples who just want the wedding do-over (read another party, playing dress up, gifts, etc)it smacks of self indulgence. There's less value in something you do over and over. Unless there's something big to celebrate guests get tired of this behavior pretty quickly. Imagine being invited to a surprise party for Uncle Ed every year. Cool one time when he turns 50 -- every year, not so much. I say, if you feel like you want to renew your commitment, do it privately.