Vow Renewal Question: My husband and I have been married 10 years and have decided to renew our vows and have our marriage blessed in the Catholic Church. What is the proper way to word the program?
Full Question: I went to my priest and discussed what this type of ceremony would consist of, and discovered that it would be similar to a wedding ceremony. Because my husband and I had only his parents in attendance at our courthouse wedding, we are including all the members of our family and a few friends to celebrate our vow renewal. As I’ve been planning this, I realized that a program was probably appropriate to single out the people involved in the ceremony, such as: witnesses, readers, parents and grandparents, etc., and also have a layout to follow of the ceremony; songs, readings, etc. What is the proper way to word the program, as I can’t exactly say “sister of the bride” or “friend of the groom”?
Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette Now
Although the priest said that you could host a “wedding like” event, it isn’t proper. Legally married don’t host weddings for themselves. Having a priest bless your vows should be a small family affair and shouldn’t appear to be a wedding. It is viewed very negatively, as if you want to dress up and play bride and groom–believe me, I’ve heard from the guests. So, it is best to save face and plan this correctly.
The rules for your vow renewal is the same as for all vow renewals. Please read more about the etiquette involved. Also, please read our many posts on this subject. Of course this is also mentioned in many etiquette books as well.
You really don’t need programs. Your vows are the focus, so we don’t mention parents or grandparents. There are no witnesses, since there is nothing to witness. There definitely are no attendants.
I never asked my priest HOW to host our vow renewal ceremony, this is what the Catholic church does. It is called a convalidation and the ceremony is similar to a wedding ceremony except that we wouldn’t exchange rings. He said everything else is the same including having witnesses. I am not having bridesmaids – only my sister is “standing up”. This was not my choice, it is the way he told me it is done. I was not planning to have any bridesmaids, wear a veil, or do the big Catholic wedding mass.
I do not perceive myself as a “bride” technically, as I am already married. I do believe I mentioned that. Even the invitations I am sending out say it is a reaffirmation of our wedding vows. The people I am inviting are family and a few close friends, and they all know what are situation was like 10 years ago, so I don’t believe anyone would look down on this event, and say anything rude. If they would, I don’t really care. This is about my husband and I, and affirming our love to each other. I have read many of the posts. I agree and disagree with some. But none have answered my original question.
I want to do a simple program stating the readings that would be read that day and who is doing them, the people standing up, and a quick layout of the ceremony. I don’t think it would be improper to do so, as some of the people we are inviting don’t know each other.
The convalidation ceremony may be similar to a wedding but the events surrounding it are not. Please click marriage convalidation ceremony on the left of this page to read the article on convalidations.
Since convalidation ceremonies and vow renewals are informal events not calling for programs, there is really no etiquette surrounding it and we cannot comment.
I have not found your website/administrators to be helpful in answering my question at all. I UNDERSTAND that you don’t think it’s necessary to have programs, but I, on the otherhand, do. You may think I am being improper by having this ceremony, but in the eyes of the church I am not married; as I’ve been told over and over from my very strict Catholic parents. I guess what I’m trying to say is that etiquette, to a point, is important, but it depends on each person’s personal situation. I did not have the wedding I wanted, and that was by our own choice 10 years ago. Since we did not get married in the Church, I don’t think there is anything wrong with bending the etiquette “rules” a little bit, to make the day more meaningful, and to have the memories and pictures to look back on. For example, I’m wearing the white gown, but no veil. We are having a reception, but no dances, garter toss, bouquet toss, etc. Some things are appropriate, others are not. I think it’s up to the individuals. Etiquette or not, I’m doing programs for church, so I would just appreciate a nice response on how to word this. That’s all I’m asking. I know no one is going to look at me that day, and pick out all the things I’ve done wrong. The people in your life that love and care about you, and want you to be happy, don’t do those kinds of things. So yes, I’m tossing etiquette out the window, and doing it my way regardless of what a website is telling me to do.
As we have said many times to many people, our site is based on etiquette. If you don’t care about etiquette, that is your perogative, and you can plan any way you like. There are no etiquette police. But, since our advice is based on etiquette, we cannot guide you or answer your question since a vow renewal or convalidation (as per etiquette) does not require a program. So, we do not have an answer for your program question. Just word it any way that sounds good to you. I hope this makes more sense to you.