I very frequently get requests to help with a wedding vow renewal in Central Park. My primary role is of a planner of legally binding weddings in Central Park, but we do plenty of renewals and blessings, too. The photographs used in this blog post are of weddings as well as vow renewals.
Sometimes I work with couples who have been married for many years and it is either a big anniversary or a big birthday, and they want to mark the milestone with a vow renewal. Sometimes we have couples who have reached their first or second anniversary and they want to renew their vows in Central Park. Sometimes couples happened to be in New York anyway, to celebrate the milestone, and they decide to renew their vows while they are there, or they might make a trip especially for the vow renewal and then have a celebration while they’re visiting.
Often couples who have quickly got married recently at City Hall or in the UK; a registry office, contact me for a ceremony in Central Park, where they can plan it just how they want it. Quite a common reason for a quick and unexceptional wedding that leaves a couple feeling like they want more is that they need a visa; these days quite often couples meet and if they are from different countries they need to be married to be together. Sometimes couples cannot afford a big celebration when they get married but later on they can, so they want to throw a big party when they have the opportunity.
Sometimes a couple may have been through some challenges, such as serious health issues, or commitment issues, and it feels right to renew vows. One couple told me that their original real wedding was a disaster due to some family members’ actions, so they wanted to do it all again and enjoy it this time! For so many reasons; an already married couple might want to have a ceremony that is unique to them, in a beautiful location, and perhaps a celebration with friends and family.
In the past, I have planned renewals or blessings for vastly varying sizes of groups. Because every ceremony I write is unique to each couple, we can cater to anyone. I ask the couple a series of questions that allows me to write a first draft of ceremony wording that I pass over to them to check and then we make changes and go from there. It is for this reason, and the time commitment from all involved, that the price is the same for a vow renewal or blessing as it is for a legally binding wedding. The only difference could be that a license is signed at the end of a wedding. Just like a wedding, we find that couples take their guests off for a meal and a celebration afterwards, or go for a meal together if it’s the two of them, so in many sense it all works just the same as a wedding day might.
On more than one occasion I have planned a wedding that is not really a wedding, for couple who are already married but have not told some or all of their loved ones. In these cases, couples had to marry to have a visa in order to be together. So, they had a quick, standard marriage at City Hall. Then later on, when they have the time to plan a celebratory wedding, they have come to me for help. We have even made fake paperwork for them to sign so that family members don’t guess that they are already married.
A couple should consider which parts of their original wedding they want to keep, and which parts they want to change. It all depends on how things went the first time around. That goes for the guests – the couple may want to include the original bridesmaids and best man, and use it as a justification for a reunion, or they might prefer it if they’re not there. They might want to wear the same attire, or some of it! Or they may prefer to keep things more casual, or glam it up a notch! It might not feel right for a father of the bride to give her away again, the couple could walk towards each other alone, or a son or daughter might accompany the bride or groom. They might want to say some of the same vows that they said the first time, or if they didn’t get the chance to say anything special and unique to each other, now is their chance. The couple might want to give each other a gift, to mark the occasion. In many cases, the couple have children, so we may incorporate them into the ceremony in some way.
When renewing their vows, a couple could want to keep to traditional wedding etiquette for some things, such as invites and speeches and cake, or they may want to completely ignore them! I’ve never heard of a gift registry or bridal shower for a vow renewal, but this would all depend on the couple. My husband and I got married very quickly; our engagement was a matter of weeks, and we had only recently moved to New York before our small wedding in Central Park, so we didn’t know many people, so we had no bachelor or bachelorette parties, so if we were to renew our vows, I would certainly want to make that a part of the festivities. A nice idea for some couples might be to use this as an opportunity to renew their wedding bands, if they have been married for a long time.
I am a big believer in the idea that a wedding should be just as a couple wants it to be. It should be as big and exciting and lavish as they want, or as low-key and relaxed and fuss-free as they want. I feel the same way about blessings and vow renewals. It is my job to ask the couple what they need, and guide them through the decision-making process that ultimately gets them the wedding or vow renewal that suits them as the unique people that they are. I think that a couple who choose to get married in a public park have already broken with some traditions, so they are free to break any more should they choose to do so. This is even more true of a vow renewal or blessing; there is nothing that they must do, and they can choose to do exactly what they like.
For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding vow renewal, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings and vow renewals. Please note that the photographs used in this blog post are of weddings as well as vow renewals.