This year vow renewals became the “in” thing for couples who decided to hold off on a wedding proper last year (with friends and family present) and a reception after. Because of the pandemic, these couples eloped instead. See https://www.weddingpreacherforhire.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2770. But they did not give up on their dream—their dream to exchange vows before their friends and loved ones. So that is what has occupied a great deal of my time this year, with the covid virus somewhat at bay.
In fact, the year 2021, will go down in my professional life as THE year of vow renewals. Putting together a vow renewal service required me to think through a lot of verbiage I had become accustomed to—changing out words and, even ditching at least one tried and true rite in a traditional wedding ceremony. That rite is the ring exchange. If a couple has already exchanged rings at an elopement, does it make sense to exchange rings again at the vow renewal? One couple I worked with this year, solved this dilemma by buying new rings! In other cases, we just skipped that part of the service. Instead, I announced that the couple would not be exchanging rings since they did that when they eloped. I did that so that guests wouldn’t wonder—“Didn’t the officiant forget the ring exchange?”
Another question I had to work through with couples—What is proper to say at the end of the vow renewal? Should I announce that the couple is “husband in wife,” if they have already been married for a year?
As far as the final pronouncement, I decided (and got approval from couples) to use these words, which I share with you. I used this formula at least a dozen times this past year. It got a laugh every time:
To Groom and Bride: Before God and your friends and family members, you have recommitted yourselves to your marriage. Therefore, I proclaim that you still are husband and wife. [Groom] you may kiss your wife! May I present to you Mr. and Mrs. _________!
Attached are pictures from a vow renewal at Early Mountain Vineyard, which is one of my very favorite vineyards/wedding venues in the Charlottesville area. See https://www.earlymountain.com/ What a lovely couple! The awesome photographer is Carly Fuller. Her business is Carly Fuller Photography and her web address is www.carlyfuller.com. Enjoy the pics!