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Wedding Vow Renewal: How to Retie the Knot

Vow renewals are the perfect way to reaffirm your love.

Photo: The Art of Emotion

It's a marriage trend that's sweeping Hollywood -- Madonna and Guy Ritchie renewed their vows over the holidays at their Ashocombe country estate in Wiltshire, England. Robert De Niro and his wife said "I do" again at their Ulster County farm in New York's Catskill Mountains. Recommitting to your partner with vow renewal ceremonies large and small is increasing in popularity, so if you've got some questions about how to commemorate your years together, we've got the answers.

Why Renew?

To celebrate. Perhaps you've made it to 10, 25, or 50 years together and you want the world to know that you'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. Maybe you want to reaffirm your commitment to each other after a rough period in your relationship. There's no wrong reason to renew. Just think about the timing -- don't do it the same year you get married, unless you've had a small, faraway ceremony and want to make your vows public upon your return.

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Anything goes with this fete, from an intimate family barbecue to a large, sit-down affair as lavish as any traditional wedding reception.

Who Hosts?

Many couples host their own renewals, and some have their children do the honors. Here's a trend we really like: The couple's closest friends, perhaps the original Maid of Honor and Best Man, host the event. And don't feel like you have to find a secular event hall or outdoor space to hold the ceremony -- many traditional halls of worship make wonderful, meaningful venues. Since a vow renewal is not a legally binding ceremony, you can have whomever you want to officiate -- a clergyperson, a close friend, a relative, or even your children.

What Happens?

The basic premise is to exchange vows, just as you did the first time around. You can either recite the same words you spoke back then, or compose new ones to mark this special occasion and how you feel now. After the vows you'll exchange rings. Either engrave your original bands with something new (perhaps the date of your vow renewal or a cute sentiment like "I Love You, Part II") or purchase new rings expressly for the reaffirmation -- there's never a bad time to upgrade jewelry! Children, close relatives, and special friends can do readings, and you can have meaningful music playing, just as you would at a wedding ceremony.

How to Celebrate?

Once the vows are spoken, the rings are swapped, and the happy couple makes their way back down the aisle, it's time to party. Anything goes with this fete, from an intimate family barbecue to a large, sit-down affair as lavish as any traditional wedding reception. Plan for dancing, a cake, and lots of toasts. Bring your original wedding album to share with your guests (if you just eloped recently, bring some recent shots), as well as family photos taken throughout the years of your marriage. Be sure to hire a photographer to capture the event on film -- in 20 more years you may want to renew your renewal!

-- Anja Winikka

See More: Wedding Ceremony + Wedding Vow Ideas