Preexisting Promises: Can a couple still have a wedding ceremony even after already taking their vows?

Q: My daughter and her boyfriend were planning on getting married in August but my daughter just found out she is pregnant.  They want to get married now and still have the full wedding ceremony on the original scheduled date.  How can we announce their wedding ceremony and invite guests to it after they’ve already taken their vows?



A: It would be fine for your daughter and her boyfriend to renew their vows instead of a wedding ceremony.  The first thing to do is to check with the officiant about the practice or guidelines for the renewal of vows.  Most often, it is a simple ceremony that can take place either during a regular worship service or it may be a separate ceremony later in the day or on a different day than regular services.  In any case, it is not a wedding.  You do not wear a wedding gown or have a processional up or down the aisle.  Once you have clarified the religious components, you can plan as elaborate a party as you wish.  A renewal of vows is also an anniversary, and the related party can be an afternoon reception, an evening dinner.  The renewal can still include music and dancing, a wedding cake, toasts, and decorations.


  1. Maggie

    I mean, if they are getting married on paper now for some kind of financial reason (e.g., health insurance, military housing, etc.) then I see no reason why their wedding in a few months couldn’t have all the ceremonial elements of any other marriage celebration, including a wedding gown and a processional.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I also don’t see the harm in the wedding dress. After all, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with wearing a white gown to a formal party (as long as it wasn’t someone else’s wedding) so why can’t she wear one to her own party?

      In my experience people are okay with going to a vow renewal/marriage blessing when the couple had a reason why they needed to get married quickly beforehand as long as they’re honest about it. If the couple seems like they’re trying to hide the fact that they’re already married, people get upset. I heard a story where a couple eloped and then planned a “wedding” on April 1st and showed a video of the actual wedding at the reception. To the guests that weren’t informed that they were already married, it seemed like they were saying “April Fools! The ceremony you just witnessed wasn’t real!”

  2. Saundra Coyle

    If a couple goes to get married at court house and then plans a wedding 5 months later, are you as family expected to attend the affair 5 months after they have been married? We live in different states and it will cost our family lots of $$ to attend something that seems an unnecessary expense for our family since they are already married?

    • Lori C

      I understand some couples who are married in a civil ceremony at the courthouse choose to have their marriage blessed in a house of worship at a later date. You under no obligation to attend. You may accept or decline the invitation based on your own situation. If you did not send a note, letter, card or gift of congratulations upon learning of the civil ceremony, it would be a nice thing to do now if you are unable to attend.

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