Celebrants give the low-down on renewing your vows – Part 3

Renewing vows

Renewal of Vows ceremonies are a fantastic way to show ongoing love, or even overcoming obstacles with your love intact. Celebrants love conducting Renewal of Vows ceremonies as it really shows that love is everlasting.

Sarah Baker, Norfolk Bluebells Celebrant, shares her experiences of Renewal of Vows ceremonies and why she thinks you should have one.

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In your experience why have the couples you worked with decided to have a Renewal of Vows Ceremony?

The couples I’ve worked with to date are either celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary or are having the ‘wedding day’ that they couldn’t afford the first time around.

Tell us about what happens during the ceremony.

The structure is not dissimilar to a wedding ceremony but their ‘love story’ obviously encapsulates the years of marriage rather than the journey to the point of being married. My usual structure would be a welcome and setting the tone of the occasion, a trip down memory lane / reflecting on their journey thus far and then moving to reaffirmation of vows and blessing of the rings. Plus, any other chosen symbolic elements.

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Have you had any unusual requests or performed a ceremony at an out of the ordinary location?

I have done wedding ceremonies at unusual locations but not Renewal of Vows – yet!…

What is your favourite memory from a Renewal Ceremony you have been a part of?

Probably my most recent one, when the bride was so nervous that she nearly fainted when I went to see her in her room beforehand. I spent time reassuring her about everything and then once the ceremony was underway, I kept a close eye on her for signs of fainting!! She was convinced she couldn’t say any words and that I would have to say the vows on her behalf and she would just say “yes” in agreement! But when we came to that time in the ceremony, I had been able to make her feel so relaxed and at ease that I didn’t give her the opportunity to back out and went ahead with the format that I would say the words first and then she should repeat her vows after me. This is exactly what happened and afterwards, she was so proud of herself that she’d been able to say the words directly to her husband! To most, this would be no big deal but for this particular bride, it meant the world.

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Why do you think couples should consider having their own Renewal of Vows Ceremony?

I think there are many reasons (been through difficult times or celebrating an anniversary for example) but if trying to explain to a couple who’d perhaps not considered it before, I would simply say that we use affirmations and re-affirmations throughout our lives, to help keep us focussed, energised and engaged. To do the same within a marriage serves as a time to take stock, be thankful and to look ahead to the next chapter with renewed vigour, enthusiasm and commitment.

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And apart from anything else, any excuse for a new dress and a party!!

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