What motivates a couple to renew their wedding vows inevitably varies from couple to couple. Celebrant of the Year, humanist wedding celebrant Jane Blackman looks at the many and varied reasons for couples to renew their wedding vows.
Just as each couple’s relationship is totally unique, often their reasons for choosing to reaffirm their commitments to each other, are very personal and individual. That individuality is the perfect starting point for planning a vow renewal ceremony when I meet a couple and we begin to talk, to plan, and to create a bespoke ceremony for them.
First and foremost, the simplest, but the most powerful motivator for couples, is that they want to truly celebrate the strength of their love and their ongoing relationship – no matter how long or short their marriage so far.
Some couples arrange a vow renewal to mark a milestone wedding anniversary. Whilst any anniversary is absolutely appropriate, couples often choose to renew their promises to each other on a special anniversary such as their 5th (wood) 10th (tin), 20th (china), 25th (silver), 30th (pearl), 40th (ruby) or 50th (gold).
Other couples wish to use their ceremony to acknowledge and express gratitude that their relationship sits happily within an important group of people who mean so much to them and who contribute to their sense of fulfilment and contentment in life, therefore enhancing their marriage. They may choose to gather loved ones and close friends around them – reliving the fond memories of their wedding day – having everyone special to them together in a lovely place – a wonderful excuse for a personalised, memorable party – which includes and engages the most important people in the couple’s lives.
For some couples, the renewal of vows is to acknowledge that they have had significant challenges to cope with, and that as a result of the strength of their partnership, they have together overcome hardship. Perhaps there has been a period of significant illness to endure, or maybe a time of financial strain.
Whatever the difficulties experienced as a pair, celebrating getting through those tough times and the subsequent better times, is the perfect reason to hold a vow renewal celebration.
As well as celebrating the past and sharing gratitude for all that has been enjoyed and achieved together, a vow renewal is a wonderful opportunity to look forward as a pair, to times yet to come and to express hopes and aspirations for the future.
Some couples not only choose to reaffirm the promises that they made to each other on their original wedding day, but many decide to add to those original vows (or to state new promises altogether), writing and making further pledges, to acknowledge their maturing and changing relationship over time. In doing so, couples are able to celebrate the strength of their union and those successful elements of their partnership that have brought them to this point – promising to continue to do those things that bring continued joy and contentment.
A wedding vow renewal ceremony dedicates quality time to reflect on a relationship with a clear, meaningful purpose for that reflection. On every occasion when I’ve met with a couple to talk with them about their ‘story’ and their marriage so far, in preparation for their ceremony, they’ve reported thoroughly enjoying that part of the overall process; really benefiting from the opportunity to consider what makes them tick as a couple, what they continue to adore about each other and how they see their marriage moving forward into the future.
In my experience, a vow renewal can be an occasion full of much fun, laughter, and joy, as well as some very moving, life-affirming moments. So, what’s not to love about getting together with those people who make you happiest, to clap, cheer, and whoop together, to celebrate the continuing marriage of two human beings, who have chosen to stick together for life, because both continue to agree that each of them is still the perfect match for the other?
A humanist wedding vow renewal ceremony is ideal for you if you’d like a non-religious ceremony that is unique, personalised, and meaningful.
Humanists are non-religious people who believe this is the one life we have, and in showing kindness and respect towards others. Take our quiz and find out if you share humanist values — or watch this short video where Stephen Fry explains humanism.
West Sussex-based Jane Blackman is an award-winning celebrant who has been creating and conducting relaxed, joyful, memorable, non-religious wedding and vow renewal ceremonies since 2014. You can follow Jane on Instagram.
If you’re thinking of having a humanist wedding vow renewal ceremony and would like to talk to a celebrant near you, you can find your ideal celebrant via our online map.