One of the beautiful things about organising a wedding together with a celebrant is that your ‘script’ can be exactly what you want. And, although there are some lovely vows you can borrow or adapt, writing your own wedding vows can prove to be personal, moving and affecting.
No one wants to risk producing ‘naff’ vows, so here are some tips to help you.
- Make sure you and your partner BOTH want to do this, and agree whether you will do this separately or together.
- Make sure that the person conducting the ceremony knows in advance. And it’s OK for them to look at what you have written before the ceremony.
- Allow loads of time to do this – you’re bound to need to do plenty of rewriting.
- Start by deciding a few general things you want to say (you can worry about the detail later) – just have clear in your head what it is important.
- What sort of register or tone do you want to use? By that I mean: will it be serious, humorous, deep, spiritual, religious, or some sort of combination?
- Decide on your content (more to follow).
- Once you’ve got a few sentences down (and remember, sixty seconds each is quite long enough!), see about reworking them so they look and sound good to you.
- Leave your draft a day or two, and come back and, if necessary, rework it. Get a friend to review it brutally!
- Once you’re satisfied, practise reading the vows (alone!) in front of a mirror – or practise with your partner.
- At the end of the ceremony, give the vows to somebody to keep for you (or make and file a copy beforehand).
What is the point of Vows?
- unite the couple legally
- are a public declaration of the couple’s love for each other (before God, if the ceremony is religious)
- are a public declaration of the couple’s commitment to each other
Do vows have to be religious?
In secular marriages, wedding vows can take any format – there is nothing to stop the couple from writing their own. Indeed, most celebrants would encourage that. The vows can be inspired by poetry, music or even films. They usually state each other’s expectations of marriage as well as declaring mutual commitment.
Religious marriage vows
Each religion has its own prescribed vows. (Any alterations would have to be discussed first with the officiant.)
Christian wedding vows may well include the familiar: “Do you, …., take … to be your wife/husband? Do you promise to love, honour, cherish and protect her/him, forsaking all others and holding only unto her/him?”
In Muslim weddings, it is usually the cleric who declares what the couple accept to do, but an example of a vow read out by the couple is as follows:
Bride: I, …, offer you myself in marriage and in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Koran and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. I pledge, in honesty and with sincerity, to be for you an obedient and faithful wife.
Groom: I pledge in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband.
Hindu marriage ceremonies have seven steps of marriage which represent seven vows/promises that the couple make to each other in a wedding ceremony full of ritual.
Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
I often give practical help to my clients who choose the personalised approach. Apart from recommending brevity, I would suggest that you aim for (up to) five things you promise to do and (up to) five that you declare you will not do.
Sincerity and openness are ideal, but there can also be room for some humour. Some humour, please note!
Again, this is something I can help you with, if you wish. Just ask!