Tips for Planning a Vow Renewal

Many couples -- whether to celebrate a special anniversary, mark their transition through a difficult time, or just to recognize their love -- chose to renew their vows. Recent headlines have featured many Hollywood vow renewals including Kirk Douglas, Sharon & Ozzy Osbourn, Celine Dion, and more.

What makes couples plan a vow renewal--and how can you arrange a vow renewal on your next romantic getaway? To find out, we went to Paula Safran-Addington at the Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa [see related story on weddings & vow renewals at this property]. Paula, a Marriott Certified Wedding Planner, gives us her tips on setting up a vow renewal.

What seems to prompt couples to arrange a vow renewal? Are many recognizing a special date or are more having the wedding of their dreams that they didn't have the chance to have the first time?

While vow renewal is very exclusive to each and every couple, I find that most couples are celebrating their lifetime commitment to each other and their love. Most couples choose their original wedding date or the day of their first date.

It is less about the grandeur and more about intimate, family memories that are celebrated by the couple and those they hold dear.

Vow renewals to me are most special in that it is telling the person that has shared their life with you, the one who has laughed and cried with you, the one who has held your hand and encouraged you, the one who has built these memories with you... That you would marry them all over again. That to me speaks volumes of true love.

Their love has weathered the test of time and they want to renew the promises and commitments that they have given to each other and built upon over the years. I have yet have a couple say to me that they wanted the wedding they never had --it is always about celebrating each other.

How is planning a vow renewal ceremony different than planning a wedding?

The planning process is usually the same in most aspects, however the groom seems to be more involved in the total planning of a vow renewal occasion than for first-time wedding couples having a reception. It is refreshing to see how they want to make everything so perfect for their wife.

The vow renewal ceremonies are much more intimate with only close family and friends mainly present. If the couple has children, they are usually included in the ceremony. It is not only about the couple professing their love for each other but for their union as a family with children.

Vow renewal ceremonies favor more personal vows, with more intimate moments the couples have shared together and this is reflected in the words of the vows. Most couple choose to write their own vows for the renewal ceremony. The wedding dress is either the original dress worn by the bride or a very simple ivory gown. The decor is kept elegant but to a very minimal scale. It truly is about the commitment to one another and not about a lavish first-time wedding affair.

What special etiquette tips should brides be aware of when it comes to vow renewals?

The thing that I tell all couples embarking on a renewal ceremony is to speak from the heart. Every ceremonial highlight should be a reflection of who they are as a couple and the people most important to them should be there to share the moment.

The very reason they are planning this event is to let their family and friends know that they are truly committed to each other and they want their world to know it. With families being so diverse these days, such as a previous spouse has passed and there are children from that previous partner, it is important to tactfully involve that part of the family somehow. It is so easy to offend.

The thing to remember, as a first time marriage celebration, is that the day essentially belongs to the couples and if the couple chooses to renew their vows alone so as not to offend or simply share the commitment to one another, it is their choice to make.

How can couples incorporate their children or other special people in their lives into the vow renewal ceremony?

Children, when emotionally connected to the parents, are a must in being a part of the vow renewal ceremony. They can be take the part as bridesmaids and groomsman or they can even give the bride and groom away.

We have had the children write surprise vows to their parents or create and read personally dedicated poems to the couple. I have even seen the children sing a special song to their parents. There is never a shortage of tears when that happens.

As a family, they can all participate in a candle lighting ceremony or exchange a single rose stems, parents to children and children to parents.

The couple is able to write a special thank you into their vows for those would have stood by them and supported them throughout their marriage.

I have even seen impromptu dedications to the couple, by various members of the family and close friends and the ceremony virtually creates itself on the day.

To plan a Marriott wedding, call the Marriott of your choice and ask to consult with the hotel's wedding event planner. For more information on Marriott Hotels, Resorts, and Suites, call 1-800-228-9290 or see

Photo courtesy Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort & Spa

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