Choosing Your Wedding Vows
Mar 19, 2012 10:49PM ● Published by Anonymous
Where to Begin
Start with the standard ceremony. Most religious institutions have a ceremony or choice of ceremonies that will be provided to you when you initially meet with your officiant. Justices of the peace, clerks of the court, ship’s captains ... they all have standard marriage vows they typically use, but that doesn’t mean you can’t substitute your own vows or make modifications. It’s your wedding!
There are three basic forms to wedding vows. The marriage vow portrayed in movies and television usually takes the question-and-answer form. It’s easy for the bride and groom to perform because no memorization or reading is required. All they have to say is, “I do” every time a question is posed:
Do you (name) take (name) to be your (husband/wife)?
The responsive vow also follows the lead of the officiant but instead of individual “I do’s” the bride and groom in turn repeat a series of sentences asserting their vows. A traditional responsive vow might be worded thus:
I, (name) take (name) to be my (wife/husband) to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish forever and always until death do us part.
The third type of wedding vow is made up of declaratory statements that give the bride and groom the opportunity to declare their love and commitment to one another while stating their vows. Here is an example of this type of vow:
Before our family and friends I am here today to declare my love and commitment to (name). Whether in sickness or in health, in poverty or financial success, our lives from this day forward are joined. I hereby pledge to forever love and cherish (name) as long as we both shall live.
Within the structure of these three traditional formats there are unlimited variations. Which form of vow you choose is your preference but take the time to make a conscious choice. There is no reason you have to stick with the simple form. Surf the Internet, visit the local library, and read what others have written.
Enhancing the Basic Vows
A poem, song, or favorite quotation may be all you need to add to a standard ceremony to make it personal. If you are moved to express your love in words, something you have written to express your feelings is a valuable addition. If you don’t feel comfortable writing or delivering a personally crafted speech, poem, or song invite a talented close friend to become a part of the ceremony.
If your religious beliefs and faith are an important part of your life you may want to include a favorite passage from the Bible or other religious writing or a favorite hymn or other religious song.
The actions you take while declaring your vows can underscore their significance. The traditional Jewish ceremony includes the sharing of a glass of wine, illustrating that the bride and groom will be sharing their lives together. Inviting the extended family to join hands at the end of the ceremony can symbolize the merging of two families. Other meaningful actions that can become a part of the ceremony include lighting a candle, jumping over a broom, or joining in prayer.
Write the Entire Ceremony
The easiest way to write all your vows is for the bride and groom to compose a marriage contract. This can be a part of the premarital counseling process. Put down on paper why you want to marry one another, why you believe in the institution of marriage, and the affirmations to each other you wish to pledge.
Once you’ve got your thoughts written down, select which ones you’d like to share with family and friends and work with your officiant to include your writings in the vows that you exchange.
Gather together the writings and texts you are planning to use in your ceremony several months before your wedding date if possible. This will give you time to review and revise as the big day approaches.
Your wedding program is a good place to publish your wedding vows and selected portions of the ceremony you have created. You’ll want to keep the entire text for your scrapbook. A video of the ceremony, which can be transferred to computer storage, is something to keep and replay to family members who were unable to attend your wedding and to have for future generations.