Question: Should we write our own vows?
Answer: Vows are the essence—the heart and soul—of every wedding ceremony. They are the expression of your promises and commitments to each other and to society—the fundamental purpose of the ceremony.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the wedding vows. You should view these promises as the core of your marriage. In times of difficulty, returning to your vows will enable you to renew your faith in each other and in your marriage. Use these promises as the source of strength that allows you to work through difficult times.
One choice you face is whether to say the traditional vows. These vows you’ve heard so many times are the product of centuries of thought and care. They represent an ultimate expression of love and commitment to each other. Just listen to these words said by the bride to her groom.
I, [bride], take you, [groom],
to be my husband,
to have and to hold,
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
until we are parted by death
[or, for as long as we both shall live]
This is my solemn vow.
These words, which are also repeated by the groom, are words that reassure your ears and comfort your heart – words that have been exchanged by millions of couples before you.
You may find that traditional vows express what you want to say. However, if the time-honored words don’t fit, you will want to write your own. Writing your own wedding vows creates a fundamental building block for your relationship. It is a life-enhancing way for each of you to look within yourself, to find the source of your own strength and devotion, and to articulate the promises that will enable you to travel successfully on your journey together, through thick and thin, through sickness and health, through riches and poverty.
Making promises that you yourself have created is a powerful statement to each other and to your friends, your family, your community, and your deity. Declaring your vows publicly emphasizes their importance, and reminds those who hear you to support you in keeping your word. This public statement witnessed by your own community helps nurture strong, durable, and loving relationships.
You may be more comfortable writing your vows together and saying identical words. Or each of you may have your own slant on what you want to promise, and your vows will be quite different. The important thing is that your promises are authentic, and that you both understand what you are promising each other.
I have a guide to writing your own vows that I can share with you. This guide also contains samples of vows composed by couples.
What if I’m too nervous or know that I will forget what I want to say? If you choose to write your own vows, I recommend that you email them to me before the wedding. I will then print them on cards and place them in my service book. During the ceremony when it’s time to exchange your vows, I will remove them and hand them to you. This way, you won’t have to worry that you’ll forget. It will take some of the anxiety away for you.
Also, with personal vows, you’ll want to make sure that the person in the last row can hear you. If not, they will be very disappointed. This means that you’ll probably need to have sound amplification.
I look forward to discussing the choice of using traditional vows or writing your own when we have our initial face-to-face meeting.