Can Catholics renew their wedding vows?

I am eager to learn if it there is a ceremony for those who wish to renew their marriage vows. My parents tried on 2 separate occasions to renew their Catholic wedding vows by having a special Mass on their Anniversary and asking the good priest to allow them to renew their vows. Both times my parents only received a blessing and did not get to say the words “I do” again. Now I understand the validity of the vows once and for all but if religious men and women get to renew their vows each year why can’t us married folk get to fortify our assent of our wills to the sacrament of holy matrimony?

Technically there is no ritual in the Catholic Church for the renewal of wedding vows. The reason for this is that the vows of marriage are essential to the sacrament of marriage whereas the vows of a religious priest are not the matter or form of the sacrament of Holy Orders, and for religious brothers and sisters no sacrament is involved. The Church understandably hesitates to have the essential element of a sacrament be repeated for symbolic purposes. As a priest when I renew my promises on Holy Thursday the Bishop does not lay hands on my head (an essential element of Holy Orders). The Church normally avoids “reenactments” of sacraments to prevent theological confusion.

Based on what you have written it looks to me that the priest in question simply followed the rite of blessing of a married couple found in the Book of Blessings. In this rite there can be a repeating of the blessing and exchange of rings but it does not include a renewal of marriage vows.

However in the western world the renewal of vows has become a popular way to celebrate an anniversary. Bishops and pastors have jumped on board with this idea as a way to help celebrate traditional marriage. Renewal of vows have taken place in various dioceses and even the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I would suggest that if someone wants to renew their vows that they make that clear to the priest so that he understands they’re asking for an additional element than what is in the Book of Blessings. I think most priests, given the national trend in dioceses, would be willing to accommodate the request.