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Wedding Vows - How to Write Yours
The most important part of your wedding ceremony is the moment where you say your vows. Said simply, a vow is a promise. You are making a profound declaration of your feelings and your promises to your new spouse. With that said, often couples are dealing with the seemingly larger tasks of buying a dress, planning the reception, booking the band, and the vows sit on the back burner until the last minute. Whether you are sitting here reading this at the last minute for some good ideas, or if you are planning well ahead for what you will say to your love at the altar, I am going to give you a few ideas and tips about choosing your wedding vows that I hope will help make it just a little bit easier.
The first step to choosing the vows right for you and fiance is to sit down together to discuss what you want the tone of your ceremony to be. Another important thing to consider is whether both of you are comfortable with some level of public speaking. You certainly don't want to add undue stress on your fiance if he gets extremely nervous talking in front of a crowd!
It is also important to talk to your wedding officiant about your vows as soon as possible. If they are experienced with weddings, they may have some great ideas for you. Also, if you are getting married in a very traditiional church, there may be rules in place as to what you have to say during your ceremony.
Now comes the time to look through different examples of vows to decide what will work for the two of you.
Traditional Vows - "I Do"
If you or your fiance are not very comfortable with the idea of having to say a lot during your wedding ceremony, the easiest choice is to have the pastor or officiant ask a question to which you simply answer, "I do." For example:
Officiant: "John, do you take Andrea to be your wedded wife, to live together in bonds of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, so long as you both shall live?"
Groom: "I do." (or "I will.")
That is just one example of a commonly used vow, but you are free to change it in order to reflect your beliefs and your relationship, while still keeping the same question and answer format.
Another example might be:
Officiant: "Do you John, knowing this woman's love for you and returning it, realizing her strengths and learning from them, reconizing her weaknesses and helping her to overcome them, take Andrea to be your lawful wedded wife"
Groom: "I do."
Remember that if you come across some traditional wedding vows that sound beautiful, but have some words that are a bit outdated, you could consider modernizing the language.
Traditional Vows - Repeat After Me
Another commonly used tradition is to have the wedding officiant say a line or two of your vows and ask you to repeat after him. That way, even though you are saying a bit more than just "I do," you have a safety net there with the pastor and are not likely to forget or mess up if you are nervous. The most commonly used "Repeat after me" vow is this:
Take you Andrea
To be my wedded wife
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. (or often "As long as we both shall live")
I have also heard many couples add "And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness" to the end of those vows. You can also feel free to change some of the parts in the middle or add on as you feel you want to. For example, you could add "In laughter and in tears" or "From forever to forever". Even if you have decided to write your own vows, you can use the repeat after me format in order to avoid trying to memorize them.
Writing Your Own Vows
If you want to have a truly unique wedding ceremony, you might want to write your own vows. This option is by far the most work, but it gives you a chance to share exactly what you are feeling. You can either write these vows as a couple so that you are both vowing exactly the same things to each other, or you can even write separate vows that convey your individual personalities and feelings. Just be sure not to leave this task until the last minute, because it may not be as easy as you think to write down your feelings.
One important thing to remember is that no one is expecting you to be a poet. Stay true to your own personality and let the words truly be yours. If you're having trouble coming up with the right words or sentiment, consider going through your souvenirs, journals and pictures that you've collected throughout your relationship and adding a line about some of your favorite times together so far. ("Even though every day together won't be as perfect as that day we spent on the beach in North Carolina and watched the sunset, I will promise to always love you as much as I did at that moment")
If your wedding is a more casual event, you could consider adding a bit of humor to your vows, such as "I promise to be by your side on Super Bowl Sunday to watch the Cowboys strive to victory." or "I promise to do my best to clean the kitchen after you cook." Another idea is to borrow words from famous love poems or a line from your favorite song.
Whatever words you choose, make sure to have a written copy with you when you walk down the aisle. (Give it to your best man or maid of honor to carry) You never know when nerves might make you forget all those lovely words it took you so long to choose. There's nothing wrong with reading your vows at the altar!
Example of self-written vows:
"John, I love you with all of my heart and my soul. I have dreamed all of my life of finding a man with your strength, your intelligence, and your unwavering faith. I give myself to you today as your wife, and I promise to always be there for you in times of happiness and sorrow. Let us join our lives together and celebrate our love for as long as we both shall live."