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Say 'I Do' All Over Again

By Tresa Erickson

You've been married for 25 years and you'd like to do something special to celebrate. Your friends and family have suggested you renew your vows, but you're not really sure what that entails. Read on to find out.

Marriage vow renewals are not legally binding and therefore can be done as often as wanted. Some couples choose to renew their vows every year, celebrating with romantic getaways to someplace special, while others opt to do it on major events like their 50th anniversary and throw a party. The choice is yours and the ceremony can be as simple or as complex as you wish.

Couples who had a small, inexpensive wedding the first time may opt for a big bash, complete with musicians, food and dancing, while those who prefer smaller affairs may go for something more intimate like a dinner party at their favorite hotel. Either way, a member of the clergy, a judge or a ship's captain will usually preside over the ceremony. Couples may use the vows from their first wedding or write new ones elaborating on what has happened since they were married.

To make a vow renewal ceremony special, wedding consultants advise couples to incorporate touches from their original wedding, such as a song or a reproduction of the wedding cake. Other tips include:

Hold the ceremony at a place dear to your heart, such as the site of your first date or wedding. Some couples even choose to have a destination ceremony and renew their vows at the place where they took their honeymoon.

Create a romantic atmosphere. Strew rose petals on the floor, light up some candles and play soothing music. Make it a moment to remember for you and your guests.

Involve the children. Arrange to have each of your children walk you down the aisle or stand up in front with you. If you have grandchildren, make sure they are involved as well.

Display your first wedding photograph. You can place it on an easel next to the spot where you will renew your vows or set it in the middle of the food or cake table.

Arrange to have someone special sign the certificate of renewal. This could be your best man and maid of honor from your wedding or a couple of your children or closest friends.

The more complex the ceremony, the more details you will have to take care of. Don't try to do everything yourself. Ask a friend or family member to help, or hire someone. You don't want to be stressed out on your special day.

Renewing your wedding vows can be a wonderful experience. You can reaffirm your love and honor your commitment in front of those dear to you.

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