Thoughts on choosing or creating the right wedding vows

Whatever the type of wedding ceremony, whether religious, a combination of religions, spiritual, secular or civil commitment – and whatever the style, place, or circumstance, the exchanging of vows is perhaps the most central, key element in a wedding ceremony.

The groom sang his vows!

And what is a vow? A vow is an oath, a promise. And not just any promise, but your promise! Webster defines it this way:  a vow is a solemn promise or assertion; specifically : one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition.

It is the way you express your intention to be together always. And saying this promise out loud, before friends and family, and projecting these words into the world around you is important and powerful stuff! It makes it real, and it becomes a part of your existence.

There are, of course, the classic vows, with which we are all familiar. Those include phrases like: ‘to have and to hold’, ‘from this day forward’, or ‘for better or for worse,’ and so on. And then there are vows as individual and unique as one can possibly imagine.

The couple exchanges vows, with the 'repeat after me' method

How will you choose, or create your vows?  Here are a few suggestions to help get your started:

Read through some samples and see if any ‘jump out at you.’ If not, pick a few favorites and go over them line by line and see which lines best reflect how you feel. Take note.

Think about some of the key words. Do you prefer ‘as long as we both shall live,’ rather than the old ‘til death do us part,’ or how about: ‘from this day forward? These stylistic choices will set the tone, whether formal and traditional, or more contemporary.

Then there is the content. What exactly are you promising? To love each other forever, of course, but also to respect and care for each other. How about through challenges or difficulties?  To remain best friends, support each other’s dreams?

Check to see if you are saying the same thing twice, only in a different way. If so, you may want to eliminate one way of saying it to shorten the vows while keeping them meaningful.

Some couples wish to keep their vows secret from one another. It is a very exciting experience. What I like to do in this case, is request that they send them to me to check for a sense of equality, tone and of course length!

Good luck with this most important ritual of you wedding day, and don’t let the choices overwhelm you. It is perfectly fine to pick vows from a book or the Internet and say, ‘yes,’ this is for us!


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