Who Do You Need to Invite to a Vow Renewal?

Who Do You Need to Invite to a Vow Renewal?

A vow renewal is much like a wedding ceremony. You have an officiant, you repeat your vows like in a wedding ceremony, and most vow renewals have guests. But who do you need to invite to a vow renewal?

You can invite as many or as few people as you want. As this is not an official ceremony, you won't need a qualified officiant, and people will understand if they’re not invited. Most couples invite close family and friends, but you can invite everyone from your wedding party if you want. You will need witnesses to sign the vow renewal certificate, but these don’t need to be close friends or family members.

If you want, you don’t even need to have any guests at all. But if you plan on doing that, you may need to explain your decision to your closest family and friends. For details on how to do that, and much more, read on...

How Many People Can You Invite to a Vow Renewal?

You can invite as many or as few people to your vow renewal as you like. The limit on your guests depends on the venue, just as it does for a wedding ceremony. So, if you want to invite your whole extended family and all of your friends and colleagues, you can.
But there are a few different approaches you can take. You may think it rude to not invite people who were at your original wedding, for example. Or, you may want to have no guests at all. So, what’s the right way of going about it?

Do You Invite Every Wedding Guest to a Vow Renewal?

One approach people take is to invite each of the guests of their original wedding day. The primary purpose of vow renewal is celebration, after all. It makes sense to invite everybody who was present at the original ceremony to this subsequent one, too. With everybody who was at the original wedding there with you, you can share lots of precious moments with your closest family and friends, and, of course, your partner.

Many couples also do this because it may be rude not to. Say, for example, that you had invited a certain family member to your wedding, but because you think they may not be interested, you don’t invite them to your vow renewal. They may take offence to that and wonder why you invited other people, but not them. Rather than deal with this potentially embarrassing and difficult issue, many couples simply invite everybody who was at the wedding to their vow renewal, too.

Do You Need a Best Man or Bridesmaids at a Vow Renewal Ceremony?

If you don’t want that many people at your vow renewal, you could only invite the ‘most important’ guests, so for example your maids of honour, best man, parents of the bride/groom, and so on. More distant relations are less likely to take offence that you didn’t invite them.

However, even if you do invite these people, they don’t need to perform the same functions as they did during your original wedding ceremony. Again, a vow renewal is a non-official event. That’s why you can’t have a religious vow renewal, and in law, the ceremony doesn’t mean anything. As such, there’s no custom for there to be bridesmaids and so on.

You’re free to arrange the ceremony so that certain people have certain jobs, of course. But this is your decision; vow renewals are a modern custom, so there’s no etiquette dictating what you can and can’t do.

Can You Invite Extra People to a Vow Renewal?

Something else that couples do is to have a bigger vow renewal. These days many people are forced to have smaller ceremonies, even if they had always planned a big wedding. If you and your partner have worked hard in the subsequent years and built up a nest egg, you could use some of it to hold a big vow renewal.

If that’s something you’re interested in, you could invite more people to your vow renewal than you did to your wedding. There’s no issue regarding etiquette around doing so.

You can invite anybody that you like. If you’ve made some new friends since your wedding day, then it makes sense to invite them. If your family has gotten bigger in the meantime (and of course if you have had children!), then you can invite these people too. You can freely invite any of these people should you want to.

Can You Have a Vow Renewal with No Guests?

You’re also free to have a vow renewal without any guests at all. You don’t even need to tell your friends and family that you’re renewing your vows, if for whatever reason you don’t want to. The ceremony could be held entirely on your own, sharing the special moment with just your partner.

You will need an officiant, though. The officiant performs the same responsibilities as in a regular wedding ceremony (although you won’t need an ‘official’ officiant with a license to perform wedding ceremonies). So, they’ll talk you through the ceremony and ask you both to repeat your vows.

But aside from that, you don’t need guests. The only issue is if you’re holding your vow renewal in a big venue. If you are, then it might look odd if there’s nobody there. So, you may want to pick a smaller venue so that your ceremony doesn’t look out of place.

How to Explain You Don’t Want Guests at a Vow Renewal

Of course, it’s possible (and even likely) that some people might take offence if you choose to renew your vows without any guests. You can partially avoid this issue by talking with your closest friends and family before your vow renewal. You can explain your decision to them, which should avoid any awkwardness.

There are multiple approaches you could take. The first is to talk to each person, person by person. Alternatively, you could talk to people in groups (e.g. your family, your friend group or groups, and so on).

How you explain your decision depends on why you’re taking it. So, for example, you might explain that you want to have a very personal ceremony that you wouldn’t like to have in front of lots of guests. Or, you might say that you’re having the ceremony at such short notice that hardly anybody would be able to attend.

But whatever the reason, it’s best to be honest. It’s your ceremony, so you’re allowed to have it any way that you like. Good friends and close family should understand that, so don’t worry too much.

Do You Need Witnesses at a Vow Renewal?

All that being said, you will need two witnesses to sign the certificate at the end of the renewal ceremony. To get around this fact, you can invite two close friends. If you do, they will need to witness the signing of the certificate itself.

But if you want just the two of you there, you can find two random people to witness your ceremony instead. People who work at a venue frequently used for ceremonies like these will be used to being asked to witness them! People do this with their weddings, too, so it won’t be a problem. If this is something you want to do, then you may benefit from talking to the venue about it in advance.

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