My husband and I decided several months ago that this year’s anniversary would be spent reconfirming our vows to one another. And for a vow renewal, just the two of us on a beach at sunset was all we had in mind. When we first started planning for our renewal, I was surprised by the wide range of opinions about having a renewal ceremony. So many people seem to be completely against it. Much of the information I found centered around traditions and what is okay to do and what is not okay to do (all with an added touch of pessimism). It appears many people feel that a vow renewal is just an excuse to plan another party or to quickly smooth over a rough patch. While I’m sure that’s true for some (just as some weddings are ill-focused), that isn’t the purpose of renewing your vows.

Recommitting to your vows in ceremony is a way to highlight your love, your strength and your future. Yes, you should always be committed to each other, but is it really so bad to mark the occasion? It’s common to see parents throwing huge Pinterest-worthy parties for their kids every year, but yet it’s ridiculous to plan something special for an anniversary? Why? Why does our marriage not deserve the same limelight and focus? Why does our spouse not deserve as much planning as our children receive on their birthday, first day of school or any and every other milestone they cross?

It’s because we take marriage and our spouse for granted. We think that as the adult, they should understand coming second or third behind children, work, friends or other family members. We think that they are old enough to get that ‘life happens’ and priorities change. They can take care of themselves. They can wait while we tend to this or that. So we go about our days, taking care of the items in front of face and turning our back on the one standing beside us. We forget that we are a team and that our bond is worth nurturing. Our vows slowly become only distant words spoken years ago. The meaning slips away and the intent is forgotten.

The cycle of overlooking our spouse needs to stop. We need a mental shift to occur in order for our homes to align in the way they were intended. Marriage before kids. Marriage before work. Marriage before all of your other obligations. Choosing to look each other in the eyes and say – I choose you still – is the perfect way to refocus your heart and to remind each other of what you have and what is at stake. In even the most perfect marriage, choosing to take the time to reconfirm your love and devotion will only work to strengthen what you already have.  

Renewing your vows isn’t a cheesy, look at me event. It is a time to look at your spouse and all you have been through together. It’s a time to celebrate and joyfully look into your future. Whether you exchange vows privately or in front of others, this time is for the two of you.

Your ceremony doesn’t need to be lavish, but it does need to be personal. You don’t have to follow a list of guidelines or etiquette tips you find online. Do what you want. Wear what you want. Your ceremony is about your unique and special marriage. It only needs to speak to your heart and commemorate the life you built together. Throw out the traditions and list of rules you need to follow. Your marriage is more than bullet points and a box of restrictions. Take the time to cherish your spouse. Forget the naysayers and put your marriage first.

Amy Bellows

Amy Bellows, Ph.D. is a freelance writer living in the Midwest with her husband and their 3 children. She currently juggles the roles of wife, mom, step-mom, and a full-time corporate career while squeezing in writing between hockey practices and late night feedings. You can find her at or on Twitter.