Planning a vow renewal or wedding?

My husband and I got married very young ( he was 18 and I was 19). We got married right after our twin boys were born and only my mom and her husband were there. We did it for insurance reasons and just went to the court house. So no friends, family or even pictures. We planned on having our wedding on our one year anniversary but I was 8 months pregnant. Then we moved to another state just one year later. I bought my wedding gown and everything while we were planning to have the wedding on our one year anniversary. Then after the move we decided we would do it on our 3rd year anniversary but being new to another state we decided against it. Then 2 yrs later we had to move to another state. So we could not do it for our 5th wedding anniversary. I looked it up and our 7th year anniversary will be on a Saturday and so I want to go for it and finally have the wedding on my dreams. In the course of our 5 years of marriage we have endured a lot. Not only are we young parents with three boys, we also have moved 3 times and survived a near death of one of our boys. We had some rocky times and now we are more committed then ever. My dad was very heartbroken about not walking me down the aisle before. I was wondering if I can wear my wedding gown that I never got to wear and if I could have my dad walk me down the aisle perhaps half way and then our boys walking me the rest? Also I have read that we shouldn’t have brides maids or grooms men but since we never had a wedding before and our family is very supportive of our vow renewal could we? I always envisioned a fairytale wedding and sometimes life gets in the way. I feel like I missed out and I want to live my dream. Is this possible still or should I just give up on my wedding vision?

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

Sounds like you’ve had a lot to deal with since you’ve been married. Sorry to hear that, but also glad you were able to weather the storms. So may couples, some maybe more mature and older than you two, give up easily. Kudos to you for staying the course.

I can see why you’re confused. You’re trying to plan a wedding for a couple who is already married. Although you never had the wedding of your dreams, you did have a wedding since a wedding is a ceremony performed to marry a couple – you had that and are now (happily) married. It’s impossible to recreate a wedding after you’ve been a married couple for so long. Having you dad “give you away” (he hasn’t “had you” to give away for years) and some of the other traditional wedding traditions don’t make sense after you’ve been living together as husband and wife.

If you want to celebrate your accomplishments and your enduring love, I’d suggest a vow renewal, which can be a beautiful event between a couple. (Note that this is usually done for a benchmark or milestone anniversary and is not a wedding do-over). You’ll dress for the occasion, maybe have some family involvement such as lighting a unity candle and perhaps have a party afterward. If you’re religious, there is a blessing of the marriage ceremony that can be performed as well. Check with your clergy person to ask if they can perform that ceremony.

I’d encourage you to think about what it is that you’re trying to accomplish here and discuss it with your husband to plan an event together that will honor your love and marriage. Writing your own vows can be a cathartic experience, so please consider doing that together. Focus on the ceremony and not the fancy trappings. The “stuff”, isn’t what makes for a healthy successful marriage and it seems you already know that.

You can read more about renewing wedding vows here.

Happy Anniversary – many, may, many more.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Very good advice! Please remember that this isn’t a wedding and avoid all those elements. But, as the Wedding Queen mentioned this can be a very sweet event.


So what you are saying is too bad that we didnt have a wedding? And that we are “not allowed” to have a wedding now since we are married already? I think that is funny because what am i suppose to do divorce then get remarried just so we can have a wedding? I do not think that sounds right. I have dreamed of a wedding since I was little and just because life had some turns for us, I do not think I have to just never have a wedding. What ever happen to a free country where you could always achieve any dreams you have? I am going to have a full blown wedding because that is what I want. I will be wearing a white wedding dress, lots of flowers, brides maids, wedding cake and even though my dad is not “allowed to walk me down the aisle” he can still escort me.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

I feel for you, I really do. But life turns for a lot of people. I, personally, dreamed of marrying my high school sweetheart, being his wife and mother to our children, but he made the decision to become a firefighter and died in a work related accident fairly soon into the marriage leaving me with two beautiful babies, but not the the life I dreamed of. I know some folks who were planning a big wedding when their partner was called away for military. They ditched the big white wedding , moved the date up and planned the best wedding they could in the time allowed (most times even more beautiful because they focused more on the vows and the ceremony – which IS the wedding).The trappings, or lack thereof, don’t make me or any of the couples mentioned any less married. Some couples choose to elope and when their parents find out, they’re sad because they weren’t able to be present to see their children exchnage their vows. There isn’t a way to recreate that moment. It happened already – they’re married now.

Some people marry to get benefit of insurance, green card, etc, or because they become pregnant and want the child to be born to a couple legally married and when those decisions are made and they marry, well, they’re married. They made a decision to get married/have a wedding. I think you’re confusing the wedding, which is the ceremony, with the reception, which is just a party or celebration of the wedding/marriage.

Life isn’t always fair but we live with the decisions we’ve made and life’s twists and turns.

What I am saying is that you did have a wedding, it just wasn’t the wedding you dreamed of. But, you made the decision to get married, and now you are married, so there’s no need for a wedding. Lots of other choices to celebrate what you have.

We’re not telling you that “you’re not allowed”,…but you asked on a wedding etiquette site and we give advice based on what’s perceived a proper by the majority of modern wedding etiquette specialists and the general public. There are no wedding police, so you can host whatever you like, but if you’re inviting guests then we’re telling you that a wedding for a couple who’s already married isn’t be received well. We hear from the guests all the time.

You can choose to disagree with us, that’s your prerogative, but you asked so we’re answering from an etiquette perspective. I’d just encourage you to determine why your wedding fell flat for you and what you think you’re missing. What will having another wedding accomplish for you? (rhetorical)

Seems like you’ve got it all – loving husband and family, which is most important.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

More great advice! I really hope you read it with an open mind, as knowing what is viewed as proper helps us appear socially savvy. Yes, there are no etiquette police and you can do whatever you wish to do. But, if inviting guests, they will be judging you on what is proper. Please keep this in mind so you and your family are not embarrassed.