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Just Said Yes April 2023

“Vow Renewal” vs “anniversary Party”

Stephanie, on October 16, 2022 at 12:36 AM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 7
My husband and I got married on a whim between shifts at a courthouse. We didn’t even have rings, and no one knew we were doing it. We don’t have any photos of the day because we weren’t allowed to have cameras in the courthouse. We were a dual military couple, and that life threatened to separate us. Not only that, we were not stationed near any family members. We made it happen out of necessity with the intention to have a ceremony later.

We are coming up on 12 years, and I still cry over the wedding we never had. It’s not all of the time, the feeling comes and goes, but right now is one of those times in particular. I never wanted to just go to a courthouse.
It has been far too long to plan a wedding. I am wondering what is the social difference between a vow renewal and anniversary party? What kind of dress am I allowed to wear? I can’t find many resources on this, just a lot of hate for “second weddings.”
Sorry if this is the wrong place. There really doesn’t seem to be any place to discuss it, and my married friends just like to chime in about how I didn’t miss out on anything because their weddings were stressful.


Latest activity by Julieta, on February 20, 2023 at 9:01 PM
  • Cece
    Rockstar November 2023
    Cece Online ·
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    If you are still mourning the loss of your wedding after 12 years, I say have a vow renewal and go all out! Wear the pretty dress, exchange rings, hire a fantastic photographer, have a wedding cake… do all the things you didn’t get to do the first time around!
    • Reply
  • W
    VIP September 2020
    Willow ·
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    You can do and wear whatever you want.

    IMO, you wear a white dress for a vow renewal and have a whole ceremony and reception the way you would for a wedding. An anniversary party is a regular party with no such structure of formalities.
    Go for the full blown vow renewal. Have the wedding you never got. And thank you both for your service
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  • Jacks
    Champion November 2054
    Jacks ·
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    I think you could definitely wear a white dress, have the flowers and the reception! Have a great event to celebrate your vow renewal!!

    I would shy away from things like a shower or bachelorette though, because to me that would seem out of place.

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  • Michelle
    Rockstar December 2022
    Michelle ·
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    The courthouse was the wedding. It may not be the big fancy romcom event, but it is/was still a wedding because you legally became wedded.

    You cannot have another wedding without a divorce in the middle. If you do, the officiant will be charged with fraud and will lose their license. A vow renewal is as simple or elaborate as you both want with dress, suit, attendants, and a recreation of a traditional wedding ceremony. The officiant doesn’t have you sign any legal paperwork beyond the contract for services. An anniversary party is the reception part only with no wedding dress or tux, and is often casual with no renewal ceremony. Loved ones for any part of your life can be invited to celebrate. Some couples don’t have any festivities beyond a meal and dancing, while others will have toasts and the whole shebang.
    • Reply
  • L
    Just Said Yes July 2023
    Larissa ·
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    We are on the same boat but with 10 years coming up. We got married at the court house with immediate family only because we could not afford a full blown wedding.
    We will be having a ceremony and a party with a wedding dress, tux, flowers, flower girls. I’m
    Not sure about having bridesmaids. I read a bunch of articles saying that you have to cut this and that because you are no longer a bride, at the end of the day, you are paying for it and can do whatever you want. Enjoy your day!
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  • Bird
    Super June 2021
    Bird ·
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    If I were you I would plan a vow renewal! I just did a quick google search on vow renewals and so many cute ideas came up. You deserve your beautiful day! Good luck Smiley smile
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  • Julieta
    Just Said Yes August 2023
    Julieta ·
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    We're coming up on 10 years married this August and I always wanted to have a wedding it was just never something we prioritized. Then with wedding season and our friends and family inviting us to all these weddings we kinda just got in the mood to have our own finally! So I decided we're going to have the "wedding" we never had. It was only a quick downtown courthouse with both our parents and that was that. We're going all out, having it in my hometown in Monterrey, NL, MX. Doing the fancy dress, new rings, the whole thing. And our 9 year old as the ring bearer ;D We never exchanged our own vows, it was just repeating what the judge said and said I DO at the end. I'm calling it our 10 Year Wedding Celebration. I struggled on what to call it like on invitations, so I settled on that because that's what we're celebrating, our wedding from 10 years ago! I still wanted to have the word wedding in it haa We're planning on exchanging vows (still trying to see how to translate his vows for my Spanish only guests...)

    You can still have your "wedding" if you never had a religious ceremony and if that's something you want to do. What matters is that you have this celebration with all your family & friends as witnesses of your love because it was done in such a rush like ours too. Because that's all the "giant wedding" really is, a time of celebrating your love with those you love all around you Smiley smile

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