The vows are a memorable part of many weddings. They are not legally required, but they can be a very personal and meaningful part of the ceremony – and are often intensely emotional as well.
Some of the couples we marry have a clear idea about what they want their vows to be like. Some come in knowing that they want to make a unique personal statement to each other; others are horrified at the idea of writing their own vows!
However, couples often turn to us for advice. Should they write their own vows, or should they go with a more traditional form of their vows? We always encourage couples to think about the advantages that each type of vows provides, and choose the ones that are best suited to them.
Writing Your Own Vows: Personally Perfect
The most important advantage of writing and speaking one’s own vows is that it can be personalized as much as the couple wants. It’s an opportunity to say to your partner exactly why you’re here, standing across from him or her, in front of your friends and family. It’s your chance to express your commitment and what you promise in your own words. It can be a very emotional and meaningful moment.
Writing your own vows also gives you an opportunity to express yourselves as a couple. Some brides and grooms want to make their wedding a more fun, lighthearted affair; adding some humour to the vows, or gently poking a little fun at themselves and their relationship can add some levity to the ceremony. Do you promise to do the dishes if they promise to do the laundry? Do you promise not to outrun one another during a zombie apocalypse? Here’s your chance to say so.
Other couples want to express the values that they personally bring to their wedding, and again, writing their own vows can accomplish this. In the end, no matter what you write, it will be perfect because of who you will be saying it to.
Repeat After Me: Calling to Tradition
While personalizing a ceremony is important to many couples, some people want to recall the wedding traditions that have been part of many of our lives. That means using some of the language that resonates so strongly with many of us – for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part. Those words ring deeply true for many people.
And for many couples, there is some comfort in simply repeating after their officiant. In a busy and nerve-racking day, some find it far easier to recite the words they’re given than try to read them out with the delivery that the words deserve. And often people find the more relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the wedding reception an easier place to talk about their new spouse in their own words.
And even if you’re repeating after your officiant, you can still customize your vows to express your own personalities. We provide our clients with a number of different options for repeated vows, and encourage them to mix and match lines that appeal to them, or change the lines in any way they wish to make them their own.
Minimizing the Pressure
No matter which type of vow our couples choose, we always make the same recommendation: never memorize anything. It’s an emotional moment, and it comes in the midst of the most exciting and possibly stressful days of your life. You’re not in the best frame of mind for committing things to memory, let alone saying them in front of everyone assembled there!
And if you’re writing your own vows, we can help to take a little more pressure off as well. We always advise clients to send us their vows a day or two in advance, so that we can print them out and hand them to the speaker at the right point in the ceremony. This can give the couple some real peace of mind, because it’s something that they don’t have to remember on their wedding day.
In addition, most wedding dresses don’t have pockets, so the bride doesn’t have to find a hiding place for her piece of paper if we’re handing it to her and taking it back when she’s done. And as for the groom, digging into a pants pocket to find the folded piece of paper might look a little too casual for such an important and affair.
Most of our clients who write their own vows let us print them out for them and hand them over during the ceremony. And of course, if they want to keep their vows a surprise for their partner, we’re careful not to share the vows between the two members of the couple!
Making the Choice
As with almost all aspects of your wedding ceremony, the choice is yours. The vows are not legally required, but they are a wonderful way to turn everyone’s attention to the thing that matters most: the love you share as a couple.
One important factor to keep in mind with writing your own vows is that it does require some public speaking. If you’re not comfortable saying your vows in front of all your guests, you might find that repeating after the officiant is a better option.
The trade-off for many couples comes down to the simplicity of the traditional vow approach versus the personalization of writing one’s own vows. No matter which way you choose to go, the important thing is that your ceremony expresses the loving relationship you’re there to celebrate.