Renewing your vows isn't just a great excuse to throw a big party (although that's a nice plus); vow renewals give you the opportunity to create a ceremony that honors who you and your partner are at this stage of your life and relationship. While some couples choose to renew their vows as a symbol of overcoming a major challenge—like a marital separation or a life-threatening illness—you don't have to have conquered a trauma to want to recommit to your spouse. "As far as I'm concerned, there's never a 'wrong' reason to re-commit to your relationship in an intentional way," says Reverend Laura C. Cannon, owner of Ceremony Officiants, who has performed more than 1,000 wedding ceremonies (and more than a few vow renewals). Here, three reasons why you might want to renew your vows.
You want to include your kids.
Your wedding was about the two of you starting your life together, so planning a vow renewal that includes your children is a touching way to celebrate the family you've made. Cannon often gets a couple's kids involved by having them take part in a sand ceremony during the renewal, setting aside time for the parents to present the children with gifts during the ceremony, or encouraging the couple to write vows they can exchange with the younger generation. Event planner Holly Patton Olsen of Perfectly Posh Events includes older kids as the best man or maid of honor and younger ones as ring bearers and flower girls, plans special readings for them to do during the ceremony, and sets up a first look portrait with the kids and parents.
You're more intentional about your relationship.
Whether you've been married for five years or five decades, it's never too late (or early) for a vow renewal. But taking the time to craft a truly personal ceremony will make your day more memorable than following a pre-written text. "If a couple is considering renewing their vows, it's because they want those vows and the renewal ceremony to be special and reflect the depth of their relationship as it is now, after being together for several years," says Cannon. Many of the couples she works with renew their vows with the express purpose of being more deliberate about their promises. "A professional officiant can really help a couple work through their intentions and what they are trying to communicate to one another and create something powerful and meaningful. That's a lot better than just printing out a cookie-cutter renewal script off the internet."
You're older (or wealthier).
Tons of factors may have prevented you from having the wedding you imagined the first time around: Family drama that plagued the planning, a dream venue that was beyond your budget, or even bad weather that forced your photos indoors. Putting together a do-over means you can celebrate again with the day you always envisioned. "For a couple who got married young," says Olsen, "this might be an opportunity for them to have the wedding celebration that they wanted but couldn't have because of parent opinions or financial restrictions." If you eloped or had a smaller courthouse wedding, you may want to celebrate again with a bigger group—or you may just want to take another chance on those outdoor photos.