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Renewing your vows - a special way to celebrate

Renewing your vows - a special way to celebrate
Lots of people now are looking for new ways to commemorate their big anniversaries.
Whether you are looking to mark a special occasion, or have come through a challenging time, a ceremony to renew your vows to one another can be a great way to celebrate your love. It is a moment to stand together and acknowledge the depth of your relationship, recognise the difficulties  you’ve overcome together and express your hopes for the future. 

Why renew your vows?

Wedding vow renewals give you a way to say ‘I do’ all over again, so really the question is, why not? Marking milestones with your family and friends is the perfect way to create memories you will all treasure for ever. 
A vow renewal ceremony is a chance for you to celebrate your relationship. Ideal if you have many cherished wedding memories and would love to relive that happy occasion. It could be that you are reaching a landmark anniversary, coming out of a difficult time, or simply want to party with your beloved. Some romantics even plan a surprise vow renewal, surprising their friends and family with an unexpected special ceremony at a get together.
For many people, it gives them the opportunity to have the ceremony they wanted, but couldn’t have, first time around. Small budgets, pressure from family or restrictive traditions can mean that your wedding day wasn’t everything you dreamed of. Or perhaps your family has grown and you want to have a special day they can share with you. Whatever the reason, renewing your commitment to each other means you get to plan a ceremony that is exactly the way you want it. 
A vow renewal celebrates the ongoing commitment you and your partner make to each other every day. And after the challenges of the pandemic, it is a great way to bring people together, reconnect and let your hair down! 

 What’s involved in a humanist vow renewal ceremony?

Humanist ceremonies offer a meaningful and memorable way to honour the big moments in your life. They are non-religious and are welcoming to all.
Planning your vow renewal will have much in common with planning a wedding ceremony, just with a little less pressure. Take your time and enjoy it.
Humanists UK’s trained and accredited celebrants will be able to work closely with you to tell your story in the way you want. Celebrants create bespoke and memorable ceremonies from scratch with their couples - no two are the same - so you know it will be just right for you. They have lots of experience in creating unforgettable moments. So, whatever you’ve been dreaming of, just ask! 
The ceremony for your vow renewal can be as formal or informal, long or short as you like. Some ceremonies are big gatherings, with tons of friends and family around. Others are small and intimate, sometimes just with the (still) happy couple. 
Often vow renewal ceremonies include a welcome from the celebrant telling some of your story and the reason for renewing your vows now. Some people like to use their vows from the first-time round, others like to write something new. Whatever your style, your celebrant can work with you to create a ceremony with true depth and meaning.

Creating special moments

Why not think about including some rituals, like handfasting, or lighting a unity candle? These can offer a sense of tradition in the ceremony and can be personalised to you. Lots of couples also like to include a rededication of their wedding rings, which can include a ring warming ritual. 
At some ceremonies children (and grandchildren) get involved with sand blending. It's a moving symbolic gesture where colours are combined to create a unique keepsake from the day. There are many options to consider, or you can create a ritual all of your own, like a couple who had their ceremony on the beach and asked guests to gather pebbles to create a stone circle for them to stand inside. 
Poetry and song is another way to bring beauty and meaning to your reaffirmation of your vows. Friends and family doing a reading, or singing together, allows everyone to feel part of your special day. You might have bridesmaids and groomsmen, like on a wedding day, but if you don’t this can offer the perfect alternative.

How is it different from a wedding?

There are no legal formalities involved with renewing your vows, so you really can do things your way. You can hold the ceremony wherever you like, even in your own garden, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Plus there’s no ‘right way’ to do a vow renewal, so you can choose whatever suits you as a couple. With fewer traditions in place you’re free to take your own path. You could go for something casual on the beach, or opt for a more formal feel in an elegant wedding venue. 
If you’re feeling daunted by the possibilities, don’t worry, your celebrant can help. To get you started, here are ten top tips for vow renewals from Humanists UK celebrant Dawn Rees.

Are we too young/old to renew our vows?

There’s no such thing as too young or too old in our eyes! You can renew your vows after five years, or five decades. There are no rules about this. People renew vows at all sorts of stages of life and for all sorts of reasons, some even renew them every year! If you want to do it, go for it. This is part of your love story and that is truly unique.

Are same-sex ceremonies available?

Of course! Humanist wedding celebrants conduct same-sex weddings and vow renewals, for both weddings and civil partnerships. 

Where can we hold a vow renewal?

Humanist weddings can be held at whatever location you choose, and a vow renewal ceremony is no different. The venue is up to you. It can be outside, in a clearing in the forest, or perhaps in a barn, at a hotel or in your garden. It can even take place in another country, if your celebrant is willing to travel!
Pick a venue which has special meaning for you, or is a practical place to gather your loved ones together. Wherever you do it you’ll be able to find a Humanists UK celebrant as there is a network of over 500 celebrants spread across England, Wales,  Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

Next steps

Your first step in planning your vow renewal is simply to say ‘Yes’. Your next step is to fix the date, and find your humanist celebrant. It's worth planning well in advance as celebrants often have commitments during the busy summer months. There may be more availability on Sundays than on Saturdays. Talk to more than one, if you need to, to find the right fit for you and your partner - Humanists UK celebrants are always happy to have a no-obligation phone or video call.
After that, the daydreaming and planning can begin! Think about the feel you want your day to have, who you want to celebrate with you and what your budget should be. Then when the big day comes, gather your friends and family and enjoy every moment! 
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