“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” As far as loving pledges go, they are well-written, highly effectual, and have laid the foundations for millions of happy marriages that have gone before us. For some people, traditional wedding vows will always be at the core of a heartfelt wedding service.
However, more couples than ever are now choosing to part with convention and customise this part of their ceremony of love. For those this way inclined, writing one’s own wedding vows can offer a unique opportunity to stand before the world (or at least a small representation of it) and your wife or husband to be, and make declarations and promises to one another that truly come from the heart.
The only things you are obligated to do when planning your own vows are:
- Find out whether customised vows are supported by your marriage celebrant, particularly if you are having a religious ceremony. More often than not these days it is acceptable, but it pays to be sure.
- Fulfil your legal requirement of agreeing to take one another as husband and wife.
Once you’ve got the red tape out the way, you can be as creative or conservative as you wish when designing this part of your wedding. So where do you start?
Consider your audience
Firstly, think about the people you will be standing and reciting these words in front of, and secondly decide how much you care about their opinions! This can help you and your partner decide on a rough theme or structure before you begin. If you have a traditional family and their approval matters to you, you might decide to follow a more conventional format but make the words your own. If your loved ones are more liberal (or if you just don’t care what they think!) then your vows could be as quirky and atypical as your heart desires.
Decide what approach you will take
How daring are you? How much do you value surprise? You and your partner might decide to leave the cohesion of the vows entirely to chance by opting to write them separately, without any preconceived guidelines. This can add a revealing, romantic, emotional and occasionally hilarious dimension to a marriage ceremony, but it is the most high-risk option if the vows end up sounding mismatched and follow an entirely different theme.
On the other hand, you have the option of writing the vows together in good time before the big day. This removes any chance of one or both sets of vows causing red faces, and offers couples an opportunity to spend cherished time with each other focusing on their love.
Perhaps you cannot resist the romantic mystery of penning your vows in private and doing the big reveal on the day, but wish to remove some of the risk factors in doing so. In this case, you could agree on a rough format and/or style together, before writing the words independently. You could also share them with your celebrant in advance to check both sets of vows work well together.
Finally, think about your goals
What do you want to achieve with your vows? This basic question will probably be the main factor in helping you put pen to paper. Is your only goal to make a simple, meaningful set of promises to one another that define the course of your future? Do you want to use this as an opportunity to express your creativity and deliver a romantic poetic or literary masterpiece? Do you want to put an eccentric stamp of individuality on your day and leave your guests and yourselves with something quirky to remember it by? Do you want to evoke your partner’s and/or your guests’ emotions, and if so, which ones? If tears are rolling down people’s faces, do you want them to be tears of laughter, joy, sentiment or nostalgia?
Once you have been through these steps of consideration, the only thing left to do is write!