Vow Renewal & Anniversary Gifts

My husband and I were married by a judge when we were 18 (ten years ago) in a small ceremony. (only 7 people were in attendance)we separated for 3 years and reunited a year ago. For our ten-year anniversary this fall, we want to have a vow renewal/anniversary party. We are only inviting family and a dozen close friends. It is important to me and to my family (who were not there when we were originally married) that I have a real “wedding” this time. I want my father to have the chance to walk me down the aisle. I am wearing a wedding dress, having attendants, etc.

My 3 daughters will be there to join in the re-unification of our family. My father has booked a beautiful venue and I have a friend baking a cake for the occasion. The only question I have is regarding a bridal shower. My sister in law wants to throw me a shower complete with gifts (we are in one sense starting our lives over) but I am unsure whether I should register or even ask for gifts. What would be appropriate for this? I am comfortable with the idea,and feel that since I never had one to begin with, I would not be receiving gifts twice. but I’m not sure what the rules of etiquette are for a situation like this. What are appropriate 10-year anniversary gifts?

Donna, Wedding Queen

Since a bridal shower is a gift-giving party to help a newly engaged couple set up a home, this wouldn’t be appropriate for a couple already married and having a home. Even though you never had a shower or the gifts, it wouldn’t be right to expect them now, especially in this economy where most people are feeling the pinch.

I know you didn’t ask, but a vow renewal is not a wedding and what you’re planning seems very much like a wedding. Gifts are not expected for a vow renewal, a wedding dress is for a bride and there are no attendants necessary. The tradition of the father walking his daughter down the aisle is symbolic of the young woman going from the home of her parents to the home of her groom, so this doesn’t seem appropriate for a woman who is already married.

For a vow renewal, you and your husband could walk down the aisle together, or walk in from separate sides of the room and your children could act as your ‘attendants”, all dressed in clothing to match the formality or the event (location, time of day, etc). Include your family in a candle ceremony, exchange vows between you and your husband and perhaps have a new set of rings. There can be a party following with an anniversary cake, toasting and dancing. It can really be a beautiful event.

You should probably decide what sort of party you’re hosting (first you said vow renewal/anniversary,(two different events) and then you said wedding, but you’re already married) and then once you choose you can plan appropriately.

A 10th anniversary party would be a nice way to celebrate and the gifts for the 10th are tin or aluminum.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. Your reasons for hosting a vow renewal are correct and appropriate. It is just so unfortunate that you are planning this as a wedding, when it appears that you do understand that it is an anniversary. One plus is that you are only inviting those very close to you. So, there will, hopefully, be less embarrassment.

A bridal shower for those who are already married, even if the couple never had one, is a huge no-no. It is called a bridal shower because it is a party for those who are not married and are in the “bridal party” (the wedding couple). Registering would be pushing the limits of politeness. It isn’t polite to expect gifts, especially since a ten year anniversary and vow renewal aren’t gift giving events.

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