The Bridal Designer’s Guide to Wedding Vow Renewal Dresses

Heidi in her custom wedding vow renewal wedding dress

While renewing wedding vows is something of a timeless tradition, wedding experts say that they’ve become even more popular in the last couple of years. It’s a great way for couples to reaffirm their love for one another and celebrate their marriage with family and friends.

There are many reasons why you might want to renew your vows. Maybe you’ve has grown apart as a couple or changed over the years, and you want to reconnect with one another. Maybe you didn’t have a wedding ceremony when you got married, or didn’t have the ceremony you wanted.

Whatever the reason, renewing wedding vows is a beautiful gesture of love that can truly strengthen a couple’s relationship. And it’s a great excuse to shop for a new dress!

Heidi and Mike posing for their vow renewal
Heidi posing in her vow renewal dress

Tips for Choosing the Right Vow Renewal Wedding Dress

When you are considering renewing your wedding vows, you’ll naturally think about the kind of dress you want to wear (because it’s the most fun part, after all). There are many options available when it comes to vow renewal dresses (maybe even more than wedding dresses) and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

Here are some tips on choosing the right vow renewal dress:

1. Consider your vow renewal style and what kind of ceremony you want to have.

You want to wear something that will be appropriate for the occasion. If you’re having a smaller, more intimate renewal ceremony with a few friends and family, then traditional wedding dress styles with a veil and train might not be the best choice. For a more casual vow renewal, a fancy cocktail or evening dress might be a better option.

If you’re having a larger vow renewal event more resembling a traditional wedding, then a bridal or ball gown makes more sense. If you didn’t get to wear a wedding dress the first time around, now’s your chance!

Megan and Jon posing for their vow renewal
Megan and Jon posing

If you’re thinking about wearing your original wedding gown for your vow renewal ceremony, my recommendation is to consider wearing something else, or incorporate a part of your dress into a new design.  Times and styles have changed, and you’ll want to look your absolute best. And dress shopping or working with a designer can be a fun part of the lead up to your big day.

So ask yourself: Do you want to shop for traditional wedding dresses or something more modern? How formal or casual do you want the ceremony to be? 

Let these questions guide your thinking about what style is best for you. There really are no rules for vow renewals — it’s you choice. You can wear whatever want, so long as it’s appropriate for the type of ceremony you have.

2. Consider the venue, location and season.

If you are renewing your vows outdoors in a warm climate, like a beach vow renewal for example, you may want to choose a lighter dress that will be comfortable in the heat during the ceremony and reception.  A short dress might even be appropriate.

If your vow renewal celebration is taking place indoors, you may want to consider choosing a heavier dress, or one with sleeves to keep you warmer — especially during the colder months.

Megan in her vow renewal dress
Megan kissing Jon in her vow renewal dress

3. Consider your body type and figure.

A wedding vow renewal dress can be anything you want it to be, as long as it’s comfortable and flattering. Some dresses are going to look better on you than others, so be prepared to try on a few dresses.  Keep an open mind and take a some pictures of yourself in different styles so you know exactly how you look in photos. You’ll get a really good idea of what you like and what you don’t pretty quickly.

4. Consider what colors look best on you and how you want to be styled.

There is no reason to be tied to the idea of traditional white wedding dresses, unless that’s specifically what you want.  You can choose any color you like, as long as it’s complementary to your skin tone, hair and makeup.

Wedding vows are a time to celebrate, so don’t be afraid to add some extra sparkle and glamour with accessories such as earrings, necklaces and rings.  Again, the main thing here is to accessorize your look appropriately for the event.

Megan and Jon kissing
Megan and Jon running away

5. Think about your budget.

Wedding vow renewal dresses can be quite expensive, so it’s important to consider a few things before making your decision.  

By comparison, for a regular wedding, the average price of the bride’s wedding gown usually ends up being somewhere between 5% and 10% of the total wedding cost.  

For vow renewals, you may not have all of the expenses of a typical wedding and reception, so you may have more to invest in your dress. If you’re not shopping traditional wedding dresses, your vow renewal dress will likely be something your can wear on another occasion, so the investment will go beyond this particular event. 

In any case, I always recommend my brides to get the best dress they can afford, keeping in mind that the “best dress” is the one that fits you the best — not the most expensive one.

Sherri getting into her custom wedding dress
Sherri and Allen posing

6. Have fun!

It’s your ceremony — make it look and feel the way you want. Whether it’s going to be an all out bash with everyone you know, or a quietly intimate re-lopement just for the couple, you should have the ceremony you want and wear a dress that you love.

7. Have Your Vow Renewal Dress Custom Made

However, even with designer dresses, if you’re buying off the rack, you’re probably going to need alterations, which can be expensive. In the long run, it’s often more affordable just to have a dress designed for you — and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing it will fit perfectly.

If you’ve never had a dress custom made just for you, then your wedding vow renewal ceremony is the perfect occasion to have this fun and luxurious experience!  There’s nothing that will fit you more perfectly than a dress specifically designed for your body.

Here’s my expert advice for having your vow renewal dress custom designed:

Sherri and Allen at the bar
Sherri and Alan kissing

Start the dress design process early.

Despite what you may read in other blogs or see on reality shows, designing a custom special occasion dress does not happen overnight! Depending on the complexity of your dress, it could take up to hundreds of hours and 9 to 12 months to complete.

The process is much the same as designing wedding dresses, so the earlier you can get started, the better. It can be a long process, but a good designer will keep in close contact with you and give you several updates along the way. Try to relax and be patient — your dress will definitely be worth the wait.

Be open-minded.

You may have an inspiration for a dress style or silhouette that you love in mind already, but listen to your designer’s suggestions about what is going to work best for you in terms of your ceremony, body type and budget. They might suggest a design that you wouldn’t normally consider that you actually like better, is more flattering to you shape or is better suited to your event.

Betsy wearing her custom wedding dress from Angela Kim Couture
Betsy wearing her custom wedding dress from Angela Kim Couture

There are lots of options when it comes to fabrics, details and embellishments for your dress. A good designer will be able to guide you to the best sources for materials, but don’t be afraid to do some research and ask questions if there’s something specific you want in your dress.

Be comfortable.

As I said above, your renewal dress can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it flatters your body, fits well and is completely comfortable. You’ll be the center of attention, so of course you want to look and feel your best. To do that, you must be comfortable. And that comfort comes from your dress being perfectly fitted to your body, which you can only achieve with a custom design.

Custom wedding dress designer Angela Kim

Why trust Angela?

Angela Kim has worked in fashion internationally for over 20 years. She created Angela Kim Couture in 2017 and now specializes exclusively in custom wedding dress design.