A couple’s 25th wedding anniversary is a significant milestone in their lives together, and it deserves something special in the way of remembrance. Anniversary parties are always popular, but a couple’s silver anniversary is something truly special, and many couples choose to mark the day with a renewal, or reaffirmation, of their wedding vows. Whether staged by the happy couple themselves, or by their children, a reaffirmation service takes a fair amount of planning. It is more than simply a recreation of the wedding day, and there are certain matters of etiquette that must be observed. Let’s look at a few tips for planning a silver anniversary vow reaffirmation, as well as a few pitfalls to avoid.
First Things First – the Budget
Just like wedding planning, there are some basic preliminary steps to organizing a vow renewal service. First, it is important to set a firm budget. This will make it much easier to decide on a suitable venue, guest list, and catering menu. As always, the more extravagant your celebration plans the larger your budget will be. Keep in mind that like a wedding, you should begin planning your reaffirmation celebration early to allow plenty of time to book the venue, hire the catering staff and entertainment, and coordinate your invitations and RSVPs.
The choice of venue will largely be determined by the size and style of your celebration. A small intimate affair can be staged almost anywhere, from a back garden to a beach resort. That being said, a couple renewing their vows on their 25th anniversary deserve a large gathering of friends and family, so it is generally wise to book a professional events venue or banquet hall for the festivities. This will not only make it easier to accommodate all of the guests, but will provide a greater flexibility as far as catering and decorating is concerned. When possible, returning to the venue that hosted the couple’s original wedding reception is always a romantic touch. But if that is not an option, shop around for the most suitable hired venue that can accommodate your needs.
The Guest List
The core of the guest list for a reaffirmation ceremony should be made up of the friends and family members who attended the couple’s original wedding. While time may have scattered the original attendees across the country, it is always good etiquette to send all of the original wedding guests an invitation to the renewal service. Obviously, new friends made since the original wedding should also be included in the guest list. Invitations should be kept somewhat casual, or at least less formal than for a proper wedding ceremony. For example, you might ask for the “pleasure of your company” as opposed to the ‘honor of your attendance”. It is a subtle distinction, but one worth noting.
The Renewal Ceremony
The renewal, or reaffirmation, ceremony is wholly symbolic and as such has no real religious or legal ramifications. Therefore it is unnecessary to have a cleric or licensed official to preside at the service. Some couples like to include the priest or rabbi that officiated at their original wedding in their reaffirmation celebration, but that is wholly up to the couple in question. It is just as proper to have the couple’s eldest child or dearest lifelong friend officiate. Since the reaffirmation ceremony is not a wedding by definition, attire for the couple and guests should be casual/formal. In other words, male guests should wear a suit and tie if the celebration his held in the evening, while female guests should opt for something stylish but sedate. The wedding couple themselves should dress in a tux and evening gown, but should avoid proper wedding attire, ie not a morning suit and wedding gown. Again, these are subtle distinctions, but a renewal of wedding vows is not the same as a wedding, and should not be treated as such.
The reaffirmation reception can take many forms, and is only limited by the host’s imagination. Many couples choose to recreate their original wedding reception, mimicking the catered menu and entertainment that was part of their original wedding celebrations. To highlight the silver anniversary itself, it is always good form to set up a display of family photos (including wedding photographs and pictures of the couple’s children) in silver frames next to a book of remembrance that guests can inscribe with wishes for the couple’s future happiness. Another nice touch is to have the honored couple serve the second wedding cake to their guests, as opposed to recreating the original cake cutting. This is an elegant way for the couple to express their appreciation for their friends and family and to thank them for attending their reaffirmation ceremony.
A reaffirmation ceremony is a splendid way to mark a couple’s silver anniversary. In this day and age, spending 25 years together is a major accomplishment, and deserves a stylish and memorable day of recognition. A renewal of your wedding vows is the perfect way to mark the occasion.