Vow Renewals

by Daniel Post Senning on July 4, 2013

Q: My supervisor at work is renewing his wedding vows. I have became friends with my supervisor and he is like a mentor to me. My question is, is it appropriate to give a gift for a vow renewal, and second is it appropriate for me to send a gift to my supervisor? I received an invitation to the wedding but am unable to attend due to a plans that were made prior to receiving the invitation.

A: Vow renewals are confusing. A renewal of vows is a simple religious ceremony where the couple recommits to one another. It is NOT another wedding with gowns and flowers and ushers and bridesmaids — although there is some industry push to make this happen. It often occurs at the time of an anniversary of the marriage. Therefore, the party that follows is actually an anniversary party — which can be as big or small as the couple plans: it can include a replica of their wedding cake, a band, dancing, etc.

It is not expected that you would take a gift, although if you would customarily give the couple an anniversary gift, then the gift you would take would be just that–an anniversary gift, not be a big gift of wedding gift proportions. Otherwise, a gift is not required. Indeed, if you are not attending the party, you need not send a gift either. You may simply send a congratulatory card since you have a close relationship with your supervisor.

Sad to say, some couples understand this to be another wedding, and actually register for gifts, wanting to have “the wedding they never had” because they eloped or had a very small ceremony and reception when they were married. This is not what a renewal of vows should be — and you needn’t treat it as though it were. It is a very nice concept and an affirmation that the couple loves one another and wants to say so in front of friends and family — but it should be kept in proportion to either a terrific party or an anniversary celebration with a religious ceremony preceding it.

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