A vow renewal ceremony says you chose the right mate.

How to Renew Marriage Vows After Almost Divorcing

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Making a marriage work can be a challenging job, and sometimes it helps to create a ritual or celebration when you make it through a very difficult situation, such as infidelity, financial issues or a serious illness that can push your marriage to the breaking point. A marriage renewal celebration invites family and friends to rejoice that you made it through intact.

1. Guests

When considering guests, think of those who supported you through the crisis. You don’t have to invite everyone from the first marriage ceremony or all the folks at work, although you can if your pocketbook will stretch that far. Those who hung in there with you will most likely appreciate what you are trying to commemorate and what you have to say to each other. You can leave out those who said you would never make it this far, unless you want to invite them just to prove that they were wrong. A picture of the two of you together in a simple invitation with the time, date and location will suffice instead of the elaborate invitations used for a formal wedding.

2. Officiant and Venue

The renewal has no legal standing, notes "The Knot," so you can ask anyone you want to officiate over the ceremony, or completely do away with having an officiant. Your children or best friends can officiate, or you can call your friends together, say your vows to each other and invite them to celebrate with food and beverage. Venues can include your home if the gathering is small enough, your place of worship, a park or a location that is special to both of you.

3. Vows

Some couples could choose to recite the same vows they originally spoke, but those might not speak as much to what you’ve been through as ones you write yourself or pull together from various sources. Consider acknowledging the difficult times you’ve overcome and your hopes for the future. You don’t have to bare your soul to everyone, but you might say you’re stronger now than you have ever been or that despite circumstances that threatened to pull you apart, you choose to stay together because of the love you have for one another. Your vows don’t have to please anyone except the two of you.

4. Symbols

You can include symbols in your rededication ceremony that speak to what you have been through. Perhaps you will include a sand ceremony where all family members pour different colored sands into a single container to illustrate that your marriage includes more than you and your spouse and that you are bound together as a family. If you felt very torn apart during the crisis, a unity candle, demonstrating that the two of you have become one with a single purpose and heart, could have more meaning now than when you married. A new ring with joined hearts or a Mizpah charm set can commemorate your renewed commitment.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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