An emotional, surprise wedding vow renewal ceremony 

Photo by Rachel Platt

After 21 years of marriage, Steve Parry wanted to renew his wedding vows to Tracey as a public demonstration of his love for her. To make it all the more special, he planned the vow renewal ceremony in secret and held the ceremony as a surprise, enlisting the help of humanist celebrant Dawn Davies to help plan the renewal of vows.  Here’s Steve’s account of organising the big day!

Steve and Tracey’s story

Unfortunately, last August I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and felt the time was right to renew our wedding vows before my condition started to deteriorate.

As I wanted to keep the ceremony a secret from my wife, our celebrant Dawn Davies had to rely on me for all the necessary information for the vow renewal ceremony.

When I met with Dawn and she started to read the draft ceremony she’d produced, I was in tears. It was an amazing piece of work — personal, humorous, and some words of reflection and wisdom, with a piece and a quote from Winnie the Pooh, which was so so touching and tailored to our ceremony.

When the day of the vow renewal ceremony arrived, Tracey thought we were just going to the pub for lunch.

I entered the garden with my wife and the surprise worked! The chairs were set out in the lovely garden and our sixty guests were all waiting for us. The ceremony was delivered by Dawn with not a dry eye in the garden. It was absolutely fabulous!


Most of our family and friends had not heard about humanist ceremonies, and they were blown away by Dawn and her personal approach and the way the ceremony was delivered with heart, respect and passion. Dawn — and the humanist approach — made a great day into a truly special day for so many people.

Tracey told us:

‘I had been asking my husband for a surprise for well, the whole of our married life, but he always insisted on spilling the beans before the day! I can only thank Dawn, friends, and family for helping him pull off the best surprise ever.

‘The words Dawn chose to portray our relationship and current situation made it so personal. It felt like she had read my mind as she delivered the ceremony so perfectly. It is a memory I can treasure forever.’

Dawn said:

‘As the surprise and their story unfolded, there were tears mixed with plenty of laughter— and even a ballet-dancing ring-bearer.

‘Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Parry — and a big thank you to all their family and friends for keeping the secret and making it such a memorable day for Tracey and Steve.’

Many thanks to Steve and Tracey for sharing their story with us! If you’d like your humanist wedding vow renewal ceremony featured on the blog, email us today!

Humanist wedding vow renewal ceremonies

You can find out more about humanist weddings on our website. If, like Steve, you’re planning a wedding vow renewal ceremony, our celebrants have ideas on how to personalise the ceremony and create the perfect one for you.

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Featured celebrant

Dawn Davies conducts humanist weddings and vow renewal ceremonies in Denbighshire, Conwy, Flintshire, and the wider area along the North Wales Coast.

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All Humanist Ceremonies wedding celebrants conduct vow renewal ceremonies with the same care and attention to detail as a wedding. If you’d like a humanist wedding vow renewal ceremony, you can find your local celebrant today.


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