How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

There’s something magical about the idea of marriage vow renewal. It’s a beautiful way to affirm your love for your partner and celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re celebrating milestone anniversaries or simply want to relive your wedding day, a renewal of vows ceremony is a wonderful way to do just that.

As a married couple, you may want to hold an intimate vow renewal ceremony surrounded by family members and close friends. It could be traditional wedding ceremonies or destination vow renewals to add a touch of adventure and romance to the special day.

In this post, I’m going to guide you on how to plan an intimate vow renewal ceremony. From choosing the perfect setting to selecting the right wedding rings, I’ll cover all the important details to make renewing your marriage vows timeless and unforgettable. So, let’s start preparing for your love story’s next chapter!

How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

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 original wedding dress. I was young, naive, and full of fairytale dreams. And I had absolutely no clue as to what real marriage and motherhood entail.

A 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 sadly, 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, compromising, and challenging each other’s differences.

But in the end, we persevered and found ourselves in a better place as our tenth 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 tenth anniversary was a huge accomplishment and milestone for both of us, and we wanted to celebrate it specially.

We didn’t celebrate our tenth 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 of wild trees. I wore a simple A-line white dress that cost less than $200 instead of an expensive dress. And instead of being surrounded by family and friends, we held hands with 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 a 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!
ten-year vow renewal ceremony

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 tenth 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.

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.

wedding in forest
In a forest– via Tessa Barton
wedding at the beach
At the beach- via Magnolia Rouge
wedding at the desert
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 that can give you enough ideas for vow renewals as well.

Since our vow renewal ceremony took place in Hawaii, I wanted a natural beachy 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 makeup and size.

You can find my Pinterest board here.

3. Find dresses and attire for the family

vow renewal dress
  • 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 a 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

renewal of vows
  • 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 over 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. It was 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 it with your photographer
  • Avoid paying wedding photography prices by being smart with your choices
  • Maintain good, open communication

This is the most important part because photos are everything! Photographers in Hawaii generally charge more than the 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 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 your 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.

Create a Pinterest board and share it with your photographer so he/she knows exactly what you’re envisioning. 

And remember, the more experienced and well-established your photographer is, the higher the price and the 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 open communication and sharing of ideas, you can create beautiful memories without paying high wedding photography prices.

little girls wedding outfits

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

  • Decide whether or not you want professional makeup and hair
  • Try to set aside a 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 makeup done at the salon in Westin Kaanapali and did my daughters’ hair myself. And I liked my hair but not my make-up, so I ended up redoing it myself.

However, I would highly recommend having a bouquet made for yourself and your 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. 

Luckily for me, our photographer was also a talented DIY florist and created beautiful floral arrangements for my family for an added cost. I loved her natural, organic style that doesn’t look too perfect and wedding-like. I wanted our flowers to look a little messy. Kind of like we just gathered some pretty wildflowers 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.

wedding in Maui

7. 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. One that you and your family can remember forever. It was a very special moment for our entire family. My daughters were able to witness their parents renew their love and commitment to each other. For this alone, the entire process was worth every effort and dollar.

If you’re interested in reading more personal details of our first ten years of marriage, 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


vow renewal dresses
1. Dessy Collection Lux Off The Shoulder chiffon gown
2. Lulus sweetheart chiffon gown
3. Strapless mermaid gown
4. Halston Heritage V-neck long-sleeve gown
5. Stuart Weitzman Nudist Song Pearl 
6. Badgley Mischka Tatum heels 
7. Manolo Blahnik Hangisi midheel pumps
8. Badgley Mischka Caroline Embellished sandal
9. Show Me Your Mumu Godshaw Chiffon Gown
10. Hayley Paige Metallic embellished gown 
11. Show Me Your Mumu Faye chiffon gown
12. Harper Mermaid Gown

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

How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

You can read my honest 10-year marriage reflection here.

Join the Conversation

26 thoughts on “How To Plan An Intimate Vow Renewal Ceremony

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!

  7. I love this post and everything you have to say about your relationship and how you portray marriage. My husband and I are planning to renew our vows in Hawaii Dec 2018. Would it be possible to get the info for the photographer you used and location. All of these pictures are beautiful and I can feel your love through them. Cheers to you and your family!

  8. Thank you for your through planning tips! My husband and I are going to renew our vows for our 6th anniversary. About 4 1/2 years in we experienced a month separation and are excited to renew our love and have our children present. We eloped in 2012, left our 2 girls with grandparents and when to The Big Island. This time we have 2 girls and a son and want them to be there and involved. I was wondering exactly how to do this because most posts regarding renewals either say you can’t wear a wedding dress (I didn’t have one the first time around so now I want to be a princess) and have a big event attached (we do not have a budget for that). My sister wants to plan the event but I think I might take a page from your book, I will have a very intimate ceremony (with my sister there). Thank you again for your advise! We are supposed to renew our vows on June 15th (I just found a dress the other day with a good friend of mine, it is a little pricey but it is my first wedding dress)!

    1. Hi Ashley. yes totally wear that wedding dress! You deserve to feel like a princess, especially after three kids! We only spent money on a photographer, gave the pastor a small token of gratitude and outfits. That’s it! You don’t need a big fancy event because at the end of the day, this is just about you and your family. It was such a meaningful celebration and we all felt the love in the air. Best of luck, I’d love to hear all about it!

  9. Hi there your pics were amazing im planning on renewing our vows in Hawaii June 2018 what’s the name of the beach you renew your vows on please

  10. This was a wonderful post! Love the pictures of your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing from the heart. We are going to renew our vows in May for our 35th anniversary. We are also doing the renewal on a beach. I loved your tips about a photogragher! Wish we could have our family along but I am hoping to have some nice pictures to bring back. Thanks again for all your tips!

  11. My husband and I have been married 30 years. We’re doing our vow renewal ceremony in a few weeks in on a beach vacation with 29 other family members. They all are my husband’s family, but I don’t look at them like that anymore. They are OUR family, and I’m thrilled they’re going to be there.

    Thank you for the photographer idea. I have a friend where we’re vacationing who has given me a phone number of someone who knows several photographers. I can’t believe I didn’t think about until now, but we’ll see what we can do! I am definitely creating a Pinterest board tonight so whoever we get can see what I have in mind.

  12. I’m so glad I came across your blog.. Such a great story!

    My husband and I decide to renew our vows for our 10 year too! I’m starting to plan now and funny thing is I was planning to do it in Maui too. So glad I found this post.. It inspires us to really do it and we didn’t even know where to start!

    Are you able to share info on your pastor? I had a very big church wedding almost 10 years ago and I’m really looking forward to just saying our own vows this time around with the kiddos present.

  13. I loved this post I can totally relate. I am a stay at home mom of two boys ages 4 and 1. My husband and I will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary in April 2019. We got married at a court house when I was 6 months pregnant with my oldest son. So we plan on having a vow renewal ceremony in Las Vegas (we live in Los Angeles). I am on a budget and have been trying to decide if I want to invite his family members being that they were not present at our wedding. As I am not close with mine. However, I am not so sure if I want to pay for a reception dinner and drinks for about 10-15 people. Ugh decisions decisions

  14. Wow!! I’m not married but one these photos are gorgeous and you have one good looking family, Two… man o man does marriage SCARE me because even though I have never been married I know that it takes a lot of work from both parties. I’m so happy that you guys made It!

    Angel @unorthodoxmomma.com

  15. The photos and tips are so useful! our 10th anniversary is coming up in a few years, and I’ve been wondering how we can celebrate it. Your suggestions for locations are perfect… another church experience is something we don’t want to do!

  16. so so beautiful mama! I love how real you are. MARRIAGE is hard work, not all roses and fairy tales and I’ve had a lot of the same ups and downs and even talks of divorce but we keep keeping on. were heading into year 6 and now you’ve got me thinking about vow renewals in a few years <3

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