How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

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Backstory:

When I married my husband in 2004, I dreamed about having a lavish ten year vow renewal ceremony with a ring upgrade (superficial, I know) at a beautiful 5-star luxury resort. I imagined a huge ceremony with family and close friends, flowing champagne and a fancy dress that tops my wedding dress. I was young, naive and full of fairytale dreams with absolutely no clue as to what real marriage and motherhood entail.

Few years later I found myself as a sleep-deprived and overworked mother of two children who are beautiful yet challenging. My husband no longer seemed like the prince charming he once was, and we were forced to deal with layers of lifestyle differences that complicated my life in so many ways. Marriage began to look like a compromise not a dream, and love became something I had to work towards, no longer free flowing or handed on a silver platter.

Marriage began to look like a compromise not a dream, and love became something I had to work towards, no longer free flowing or handed on a silver platter.

Over the course of a decade, my husband and I went through a roller coaster of emotions and events that could’ve made us quit. We talked about divorce several times and I thought about it more times than I can admit. We attended marriage retreats, hired therapists and spent hours talking, fighting, compromising and challenging each other’s differences.

But in the end, we persevered and found ourselves at a better place as our ten year anniversary drew nearer. We were more settled, not only as a couple but as individuals– settled into marriage, parenthood, and 30-something adulthood. Therefore our ten year anniversary was a huge accomplishment and milestone for both of us, and we wanted to celebrate it in a special way.

Over the course of a decade, my husband and I went through a roller coaster of emotions and events that could’ve made us quit. We talked about divorce several times and I thought about it more times than I can admit. We attended marriage retreats, hired therapists and spent hours talking, fighting, compromising and challenging each other’s differences.

But in the end, we persevered and found ourselves at a better place as our ten year anniversary drew nearer. We were more settled, not only as a couple but as individuals– settled into marriage, parenthood, and 30-something adulthood. Therefore our ten year anniversary was a huge accomplishment and milestone for both of us, and we wanted to celebrate it in a special way.

We didn’t celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary the way I had imagined many years ago, and for the right reason. Instead of a fancy resort, our ceremony was held at a secluded beach under a gazebo made by wild trees. Instead of an expensive dress, I wore a simple A-line white dress that cost less than $200. Instead of being surrounded by family and friends, we held hands of our two daughters, one on each side. There was no gigantic diamond ring on my finger or flowing champagne– but the simple ceremony was intimate, beautiful and more perfect than I had envisioned in my frivolous mind ten years ago.

If you’re looking to celebrate your ten year anniversary in a special way without breaking the bank, here are some ideas and suggestions. With little bit of research and creativity, you can plan a beautiful vow renewal ceremony that you and your family can remember for a lifetime.

1. Find a location

  • Use places in nature you don’t have to rent or obtain a permit for

  • Ask local photographers for recommendations

  • Be creative- choices are endless!

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First you need a location. Luckily for us, one of our close friends invited us on a trip to Maui around the time of our anniversary. Coincidentally, Maui was where we went for our honeymoon many years ago. Stars aligned and it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate our ten year anniversary where we spent our honeymoon as newlyweds.

Even if you can’t travel far, there are many choices in nature whether it’s at the beach, the desert, a beautiful lush trail, an open field or a quaint park. Ask local photographers for recommendations as most of them know secret spots in the area that photograph beautifully.

Even if you can’t travel far, there are many choices in nature whether it’s at the beach, the desert, a beautiful lush trail, an open field or a quaint park. Ask local photographers for recommendations as most of them know secret spots in the area that photograph beautifully.

If you’re planning to do this with just your family, a presider and a photographer, you don’t need to worry about obtaining a permit or renting a space. Choices are limitless.

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In a forest– via Tessa Barton

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At the beach- via Magnolia Rouge

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At the desert– via Tyler Rye Photography

2. Browse inspirations and choose a theme

  • Use Pinterest for wedding + anniversary inspirations

  • Choose a cohesive theme that aligns with the location

  • Be creative and incorporate your family’s style

To make the most of your intimate event, choose a cohesive theme that aligns with the location. For example, think woodland for desert or mountain, fairytale or rustic for forests, bohemian for beaches, etc. although you can be as free and creative as you want. There aren’t too many vow renewal sources out there but you can find plenty of wedding inspirations which can give you enough ideas for vow renewals as well.

Since our vow renewal ceremony took place in Hawaii, I wanted a beachy bohemian theme with a touch of fairytale magic– pink flowers, lush greenery, flower crowns and fluffy tutus. The fairytale theme worked well for our family since I have two daughters but you can personalize these touches depending on your family’s gender make up and size.

You can find my Pinterest board here.

3. Find dresses and attire for the family

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  • Set a reasonable budget

  • Choose styles to fit your theme

  • Consider your family’s personal style

Finding the perfect dress was difficult. I knew I wanted something in white, but didn’t want to break the bank on a real wedding dress since I would be wearing it once. I considered wearing my old wedding dress but it was no longer my style and it just didn’t feel right on me. So after days of browsing through hundreds of bridesmaid and formal dresses, I ended up finding a simple A-line dress with sweetheart neckline at Downtown Los Angeles for under $200.

I also found the most fluffy and gorgeous custom made fairytale tutu dresses for my daughters at Carmen’s Creations, also located in Downtown LA. For my husband, I decided to keep it simple with a gray vest, bow tie and casual pants.

4. Hire a pastor or presider

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  • Find a pastor, priest or presider depending on your culture or religion

  • Ask friends and family for referrals

The best way to find a pastor or presider is to ask your friends and family. Luckily our friends knew a local pastor in Maui who would be willing to preside the small ceremony for us. Most pastors are generous and delight in the opportunity to take part in such a special event for a small fee. Our pastor was so generous he refused to be paid, an act of kindness I will never forget and will be sure to repay one day.

Depending on your religion and culture, you can choose a presider who can lead the short ceremony and serve as a witness as you recommit yourselves to each other.

5.  Hire a photographer

  • Hire a photographer whose aesthetic and style align with yours

  • Create a Pinterest board and share with your photographer

  • Avoid paying wedding photography prices by being smart with your choices

  • Maintain a good, open communication

This is the most important part because photos are everything! Photographers in Hawaii generally charge more than mainland, probably because it’s such a popular spot for destination weddings. I got really lucky and found a talented photographer named Angie Diaz, who has since then become a dear friend.

After hiring several family photographers, I learned how important it is to hire someone whose visual aesthetic and taste align with yours. Every photographer has her own style so be sure to hire someone who you can trust to bring your vision to life.

I would recommend creating a Pinterest board and sharing it with the photographer so he/she knows exactly what you’re envisioning. So much can get lost in translation without actual photos, so do not skip this important part.

I would recommend creating a Pinterest board and sharing it with the photographer so he/she knows exactly what you’re envisioning. So much can get lost in translation without actual photos, so do not skip this important part.

And remember, the more experienced and well-established your photographer is, the hire the price and busier he/she will be. Keep this in mind when you are looking to hire the right photographer for your family. I find that most mid-level photographers are just as good and are usually more enthusiastic and patient especially for families with small children. With an open communication and sharing of ideas, you can create beautiful memories without paying high wedding photography prices.

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6. Make arrangements for hair, make up, flowers or other accessories as needed

  • Decide whether or not you want professional make up and hair

  • Try to set aside budget for flowers

  • Decide if you want to exchange rings

  • Decide who you want present

  • Include all your kids

It’s entirely up to you whether or not you hire a professional hair stylist and make up artist or do it yourself. I got my hair and make up done at the salon in Westin Kaanapali and did my daughters’ hair myself. I liked my hair but not my make-up, so I ended up redoing it myself.

I would however, highly recommend having a bouquet made for yourself and daughter and a boutonniere for your husband and son. These floral details can make all the difference for vow renewal photos.

I would highly recommend having a bouquet made for yourself and daughter and a boutonniere for your husband and son. These floral details can make all the difference for vow renewal photos.

Luckily for me, our photographer was also a talented DIY florist and created beautiful floral arrangements for my family for an added cost. Her price was lower than local florists and I loved her natural, organic style that doesn’t look too perfect and wedding-like. I wanted our flowers to look a little messy, like we just gathered some pretty wild flowers in a bunch and used them for our photoshoot. She executed my vision perfectly and I was very pleased with the way our flowers turned out.

ten-year-vow-renewal-wedding_00047. Enjoy and celebrate your huge achievement

  • Any wedding anniversary is a huge feat. Celebrate with pride and joy.

  • Don’t let minor details distract you and have fun!

As you can see, with a little research, preparation and decision making, it’s possible to plan a beautiful vow renewal ceremony that you and your family can remember forever. It was a very special moment for our entire family and my daughters were able to witness their parents renew their love and commitment for each other. For this alone, the entire process was worth every effort and dollar.

As you can see, with a little research, preparation and decision making, it’s possible to plan a beautiful vow renewal ceremony that you and your family can remember forever. It was a very special moment for our entire family and my daughters were able to witness their parents renew their love and commitment for each other. For this alone, the entire process was worth every effort and dollar.

If you’re interested in reading more intimate details from our vow renewal ceremony, you can find it here.

What do you think? Do you plan on having a vow renewal ceremony with your husband? If so, where would it be?

Photos by Angie Diaz Photography

If you liked this post, pin the photo below to support this blog! Thank you in advance! 

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Angela
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11 thoughts on “How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

  1. Darby

    I really enjoyed this post!! We are hoping to celebrate our 10 year anniversary at Disney World and having a vow renewal with our three kids. That is still about 2 1/2 years away but I have already started thinking about a budget so we can start saving. Your vow renewal was absolutely stunning!

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      A vow renewal at Disney World sounds amazing! Your kids are going to enjoy it so much, it was really special for our family. Our vow renewal was simple and intimate with just our family but it was very memorable nonetheless.

  2. Shahla

    Angela, your pictures are swoon-worthy!! Wow! I would also have it in Maui (we honeymooned there too) or a woodsy theme in Lake Tahoe.

  3. Vivien

    Love love love the post!!! “Marriage began to look like a compromise not a dream” I totally agree 😝
    The girls’ dresses so cute!!! Hope you kept them ..

  4. Diana Elizabeth

    These photos are beautiful and I really love your transparency of your marriage journey. It’s so refreshing to have that out there. Gorgeous photos and what a unique way to celebrate how far you both have come and congratulations on a beautiful vow renewal. xo

  5. connie gomez

    Omg these are gorgeous! Wonderful tips!!! My 10 year anniversary is next month! I wanted something like this but don’t know how much of it will happen we shall see…

  6. Aida

    We were going to renew our vows on our 10th Annversary. Had everything planned & booked but got called for surgery on our Anniversary.
    Next year will be our 25th Anniversary so we are planning a vow renewal and anniversary party.
    Lets hope everything goes as planned this time around. We plan to have our son officiate our ceremony!!

    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      That’s so exciting! How special is it that your son can officiate the ceremony. I wonder if we can do that for our 25th year anniversary. So happy for you and your husband, what a huge feat. Congratulations Aida on your very special anniversary!

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