I am a sucker for weddings. For as long as I can remember, I have always adored seeing a bride. I remember playing upstairs in our house or out in the back yard and hearing the telltale horn honking that a couple had just been wed. I would tear out to the sidewalk in a flash in hopes of catching a glimpse of white veil from the back seat of the car. I would feel exhilarated at the sight of a car decorated with handmade Kleenex flowers and a big “Just Married” sign attached to the back bumper.

But it didn’t stop there. I was known for marrying off my large collection of stuffed monkeys, dressing the bride in elaborate wedding dresses made from toilet paper and tissues. One memorable Christmas, Santa brought me  bride and groom Monchichi monkeys. 

When the opportunity to become a licensed Marriage Officiant presented itself in 2012, I knew this was a role meant for me. Even after officiating hundreds of marriage ceremonies since then, I still get a thrill when I see the bride walking down the aisle. My inner seven-year-old jumps for joy. Sometimes, I even get to officiate the marriage of two brides which is double the fun! (side note: Don’t get me wrong, I do love my grooms …….I just have this thing for the brides). I admit that my guilty pleasure is watching wedding related shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” on Sunday mornings. For those of you who know me well…….I know this is a shocking reveal. Don’t judge. 

For the last 8 years, just before wedding season kicks in, I get so excited to tap into my creativity and create one-of-a-kind, meaningful ceremonies to celebrate a couple’s love. My training as a Life-Cycle Celebrant brings my skill to a whole new level. The custom, Celebrant-styled ceremonies are perhaps my most favourite of all of the marriage ceremonies I offer. These are over the top and include custom created rituals designed specifically for the couple being honoured. 

I am discovering, though, that there is another ceremony that is competing for my attention and that is the one where a married couple says “I Do….again” in the form of a Vow Renewal Ceremony.

Celebrating this couple’s 50 years of marriage! Photo courtesy of Tired Tim Photography

There are many reasons why a couple would choose to renew their marriage vows however the most common reason is to celebrate a milestone anniversary whether that be the 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th or even 50th.  For some couples, they have had their vows challenged in ways they could have never imagined. These challenges can lead to shaky ground leaving the couple to question whether they can stay married. A couple that surpasses these tough times might wish to have a ceremony to mark a new beginning in their marriage or reaffirm that they want to continue to stick it out, for better or for worse.

Lots of things change in the years after a couple says, “I do.” A vow renewal is not only a re-commitment to one another but can include a couple’s children who arrived after the marriage. And you may want to have a vow renewal because you eloped and never got to experience the celebrations that often accompany a wedding. Your wedding day may have been planned by well meaning family members and now you want to do something that reflects the two of you.

It’s even more special when I create a vow renewal ceremony for a couple that I originally joined in marriage. Celebrating 5 years of marriage with this couple! Photo Courtesy of Tired Tim Photography

Whatever the reason, if a vow renewal is something that interests you, there are a few things to consider.  It is important to remember that this isn’t a re-do of your wedding although there are aspects that can be a part of your vow renewal. Finding a skilled officiant, who can listen to the story of your marriage (the challenges, hardships, joys, accomplishments) and magically turn into a ceremony is one of the most important parts of a vow renewal. And, of course, the vows themselves are at the heart of this type of ceremony. Some couples recite the vows they made on their wedding day while others write new ones or combine the two. Anything is possible!

This was the very first couple I married. When she was pregnant with their first child, he secretly planned a vow renewal ceremony when they were visiting the cottage where their wedding took place. It was quite the surprise when I showed up unexpectedly with their original vows in hand. Photo Courtesy of Tired Tim Photography

Couples can choose to have a private ceremony or include family and friends. The celebration might include a morning brunch or a large party complete with dancing. Some couples wear their wedding attire or choose to wear something new. You can have special food and cake as well as party favours. It is a sweet added touch to display photos/ mementos from the original wedding. It is perfectly okay and recommended to hire a professional photographer (and videographer) to capture your special day. Before you know it, another 20 years will have passed and you will be happy with the memories that incredible photos and film inspire.

If you think a vow renewal ceremony is something you wish to explore, this article on Vow Renewal Etiquette is a great place to start.

Stay tuned for PART 2 when I found myself as the client as opposed to the wedding professional. I will write about my own vow renewal ceremony that took place this past June in celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary. Ever wonder how a wedding professional chooses their vendors? In Part 3, I will  highlight the professionals who helped make our day into everything we imagined.