When working with couples to create a ceremony, there is always one section they can find particularly challenging, the vows. As most people know, there is the legal vow which must be said clearly and loudly enough for your witnesses to hear.
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, Sarah, take you, Michael, to be my lawfully wedded husband”
or, according to the Guidelines, ‘words to that effect’.
But, there is the option to add in something more, but what? And there seems like hundreds of options but which one is just right? Which words resonate with how you feel about your partner? And let’s face it, it’s not always easy to put in writing how you feel - very few of us are hard-wired that way!
In preparing for the ceremony I provide couples with my Wedding Toolkit and that's way too much detail to go into here, but in that kit, I provide a massive range of vow options. If there isn't anything in that lot that rings true I can then work with a bride and groom individually, or as a couple, to put into words how they feel about their partner. I provide a little ‘cheat sheet’ as part of the kit which can help couples construct their own or at least get them started. Then we can talk, one-on-one or as a team, to create a few lines that capture your thoughts. It may not be as easy as the rest of the ceremony but if you want to add something to the legal vow, it's worth putting in a little time. There won’t be another opportunity!
add in some fun
And, of course, you can always add in a little humour, something that reflects you and brings a smile or a tear to your loved ones! Couples then have the choice to either read their vows from a printed card which I provide or to repeat them after me.
Some excerpts from my couples might give you an idea:
“So today, on our special day, I promise:
to love you as much as I do Freddy <the cat>
to always switch meals when we order food as you always want to have mine”
“You are the brie to my cracker and the parmesan I sprinkle on everything." Jane had a serious love affair with cheese lol.
"I promise to pretend to be interested when Warner hits another 100 and I promise to always love you, even during the footy season."
"There is no-one else I would rather watch emotional X-factor auditions with, and
I promise to try to not watch too much cricket in the summer and too much footy in the winter."
nervous? i’ve got your back - we can do this!
But not everyone enjoys public speaking; standing out front, all eyes upon you, at what is likely to be a very emotional time. Recently, one of my couples spent the time writing their vows separately and had every intention of reading them out loud right up until we met for the rehearsal. They then told me they’d decided not to read them out and to just go with the legal vows. I thought about the time they’d spent creating what they wanted to say and suggested we add in an ‘Asking’ to the ceremony where I would read out the vows to each of them but in the form of a question. They wrote the words and I just turned them into questions. It went something like this….
“Simone, do you take Alice to be your lawfully wedded spouse? Will you love her more? More than any argument you will ever have; more than any hurdle you will both have to jump; more than any obstacle you will ever have to face together? <I do>
And, do you promise to try your hardest to stack the dishwasher properly?
To not leave your handbag on the kitchen counter EVERYTIME you come home?
Do you promise, every now and then, to take Louise a cup of tea in bed?
And, do you promise to occasionally let HER choose a flavor when buying the icecream? <I do>
Alice, do you take Simone to be your lawfully wedded spouse? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and respect her? Do you promise to share all life has to offer, your hopes and dreams, your disappointments and achievements with her from this day forward? <I do>
Do you also promise not to be a worry-wart?
To enjoy all the small things in life?
Do you promise to be spontaneous and enjoy each day as it comes?
And, do you promise not to always google-review EVERY.SINGLE.PLACE you visit?
Simone and Alice loved this option; they got to say the things they wanted to say to their partner AND they added in some humour, which always gets a laugh from the guests, but it was me doing all the talking. And, I’m here to tell you, that’s what I’m good at! Win-Win!
one of my faves
I leave you with one of my faves:
“From this day forward, I promise to be worth it. Worth the time. Worth the energy. Worth the embarrassment. Worth the fights. Worth your love. From the moment you entered my world, you have filled it with life, colour and energy like never before. From the moment our paths crossed, you’ve captivated me, challenged me, frustrated me and improved me in ways no person has done before.
I choose you above all others, to share my life with you in marriage. I promise to share my life openly with you, to talk and listen to you. I promise to honour and care for you, to share my laughter and big ideas. I promise to face the challenges ahead together and keep our relationship interesting as we grow old together. I promise to love and cherish you as much as I do our dog. I promise to cuddle with you as much as I do Gus and pick up treats for you whenever he gets some, too.”