Choosing or creating the right wedding vows

Whatever the type of wedding ceremony you are having, religious, spiritual, secular or civil, the exchange of vows is perhaps the most central, key element in a wedding ceremony.

And what is a vow? 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.

For your wedding 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.

How will you choose, or create your vows?

Photo by Garth Woods

There are 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.’ There are vows as individual and unique as one can possibly imagine. And of course you can write your own vows.

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 best reflect how you feel.

Think about some key phrases. Do you prefer ‘as long as we both shall live,’ rather than ‘til death do us part,’ or how about: ‘from this day forward?’ Which feels better for you?

Stylistic choices will set the tone and 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? Vows can list ideas, actions, feelings, thoughts and motives, along with hopes for the future.

Both partners do not necessarily have to say the same vows. It can be interesting and meaningful to say different vows. But it is important that your vows are about the same length and hit the same notes.

Some couples wish to keep their vows secret from one another. It is a very exciting experience. In cases like that I request that they send them to me to check out. I think any bride or groom would be upset if they wrote four lines for vows and then their partner went ahead with a long, long elaborate vow. It would feel out of balance. So I let each one know, without giving away content, to please trim down or fatten up your vow, until they match up nicely. They still have the surprise element, but with balance, and that has worked out very well.

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


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