In the previous blog posts – vows options part 1, part 2 and part 3 – we discussed the main options for how wedding ceremony vows can be structured and delivered… either as a series of questions, or reading vows to each other, or a combination of both. The series of questions is a great option for those that want to say “I Do” at their wedding and/or get nervous reading “to a crowd” and the reading vows to each other is the most personal and meaningful option. But what if the couple wants to make it more personal but is still a bit too nervous to read a longer paragraph to each other?
Well, another option that we have had a few couples do is to read their vows as a conversation between themselves. It is very similar to reading lines from a play to each other. This is a more natural way to do vows that allows the couple to be focused on each other when they are reading and allows the emotion to switch back and forth… not overwhelming one or the other.
Below is an example from a recent wedding:
Jack: Janet, I promise to love you every minute of every day for the rest of my life
Janet: Jack, I promise to love you forever and always just the same
Jack: I promise to try to put the cap back on the toothpaste every morning and every night
Janet: And, I promise I will try and remember which stories I have already told so I don’t tell you the same story over and over
Jack: I vow we will adventure together for a lifetime
Janet: and I vow to be by your side whether the adventure be large or small
Jack: I vow to always create a soundtrack for our lives, whether it be with our monthly playlists or through the strings of my guitar
Janet: I vow to keep enriching our lives through recipes new and old, cooking them with you, laughing with you, and then going to a restaurant with you if the recipe flops
Jack: I vow to support you in both the big and little things, including taking the dogs out at the end of the night, no matter how tired I am — because I love you
Janet: I vow to support you in both the big and little things, and to work hard to improve our relationship, our lives, and the lives of those around us
Jack: I promise I will always believe in you, protect you, and support you through good times and bad
Janet: I promise I will always believe in you, and to acknowledge all that you do for both of us
Jack: And, most important, I vow to be your partner, best friend and life companion. I promise to respect, cherish and follow you to the ends of the earth.
Janet: And, most important, I vow to be your partner, best friend and life companion. And I promise to respect, cherish and follow you to the ends of the earth.
As you can see, the vows have both light-hearted and lovey elements which is a mixture that mirrors the tone of most relationships… love each other and liking to laugh together often. The tone of the vows should represent the couple and their relationship. If the couple wants the tone of the vows to be more lovey and serious, there is nothing wrong with that. Or if they prefer to have the tone be more light-hearted, there is nothing wrong with that either.
Up to this point, we have given many “dos” for vows but what about the “don’ts”? Well, we don’t recommend vows be too negative in tone or all inside stories or jokes, which no one will get. Personal is good; too personal or embarrassing, not so much. And, don’t try to memorize or ad-lib vows… ceremony vows should be written down beforehand, printed out and read during the ceremony. Remember, it is a very emotional moment in the wedding ceremony, so the easier the logistics, the better.
Finally, what are the officiant’s responsibilities when it comes to wedding ceremony vows? Although we recommend that the couple writes their own vows, the Officiant can assist by providing examples and samples if they have any. When it comes to the ceremony, if the vows are questions, the officiant can just add them into their ceremony script and ask them when delivering the ceremony. If the couple is reading their vows to each other, the officiant should make sure he or she receives the vows at least a week or two before the wedding ceremony. Once the officiant has the vows, he/she should check to see if they are pretty close in length. If the length of the vows is different enough, the officiant should let the couple know the difference (e.g. how many words different), so that one or the other can adjust the length if they want to. Although it is not necessary that they be the same length, you don’t want either one to be embarrassed that they wrote dramatically less. The officiant should also be the one to print the vows out (in big, easy to read font) and bring them, so that when the vows portion of the ceremony happens, the officiant can hand the couple their vows, the couple can read them with the emotion that they deserve, and then the couple can hand them back to officiant.
I know… lots of information, but that is because the vows portion of the wedding ceremony should be the most beautiful and personal – and intentionally thought through – part.
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