Take A Vow
Weddings are like one big rendition of the hokey-pokey. You put things in, you take things out, and there’s a lot of shaking involved, but the vows – that’s what’s it all about.
“It’s not about the wedding itself,” says Cynthia Black, a wedding officiant based in San Antonio. “It’s about the sanctity of the vows and understanding what they’re saying, because the next day the wedding is over. What glues the bride and groom together wasn’t all the pretty stuff, it’s the vows that were said.”
For that reason, many couples choose to write their own vows, thus personalizing the most important moment of their wedding. But for that same reason, writing your own vows can seem daunting. Don’t panic!
“The key to writing your vows is understanding that there are no magic words,” Black says. If you speak from the heart, you’re going to be fine. Even the heart, however, would do well to follow some guidelines: Your Story Above All
If the poet inside you falls short, stick with anecdotes to explain your love, recommends Thomas Witham, a Chicago-based Humanist minister and wedding officiant. “There are reasons why we are doing this. What are they?” he says. Even if what you have to say is, “Cindy I knew loved you when we were on our third date and the car broke down and you took me back to your apartment and we made hot chocolate and watched your HDTV,” that is insight the audience will appreciate you sharing.
“The key to writing your vows is understanding that there are no magic words...”
Other good starting points are how you met and what you are looking forward to. The Internet contains of pages upon pages of “starter lines” such as these: “Before I met you, I _____. Now I _______” or, “When you __________, I saw you for the _____ person you are. And that made me want to _______.” Every wedding has a series of cherished moments leading up to it and extending beyond it. What are those moments and feelings that you want to hold on to? That’s what the vows for. Some Helpful Standards
Once you get your feelings and anecdotes worked out in a rough draft, the rest is easy. As for length, your vows should run between a few sentences and two paragraphs. For tone, keep it appropriate. If you’re holding an informal, backyard wedding, tend toward the lighter side. If it’s a grander affair, your vows could be a bit heavier and longer. Whatever you do, make sure you can be heard!
• You can memorize your vows. Stay away from archaic language like ‘With this ring I thee wed,’ and words with lots of T-H’s.
• Write down vows on a clean 5-by7-inch card and keep the language as simple as possible.
• Choose a few standard “backup” vows just in case they don’t quite get around to writing those elegant verses they planned.
Vows are one of those things that often get put off until too late. And if they do, there’s nothing wrong with more traditional vows. After all, you’re in love, and that’s really what it’s all about.