I always ask my couples if they would like to write their own wedding vows or if they would like me to do it for them. The first thing they do is look at each other, as if to say: what do you think?!
Some couples know straight away that they would like to write their own vows, and tell me so. Perhaps they are confident writers, have a good idea of what they want to say, or have heard some vows they loved at a ceremony before.
Others are happy to let me write them. When they review the script, I tell them, there will be the opportunity to change the vows I have written, or rewrite them completely.
Others ask: "What do you think is best?"
What Are Vows Again?
Vows are the bit in the ceremony where you make your promises to each other: I vow to love you forever, I promise not to leave my shoes at the bottom of the stairs, that kind of thing!
They are not to be confused with declarations of intent, or 'I Dos', which is when you are asked various questions about your partner: do you choose them to be your husband/wife, to seek out the best in them, to love them forever .... etc. to which the response is 'I Do'.
What Should I Write?
The beauty of a Celebrant-led ceremony is that you can write whatever you like!
Traditional church vows go like this:
I, _____, take you, _____, for my lawful wife/husband
To have and to hold from this day forward
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health, until death do us part.
I will love and honour you all the days of my life.
More modern vows can, for example, go like this:
I promise to stand by you
In good times and in bad.
I promise to love and respect you.
I will always be there for you.
I will be true to you and to our marriage,
For all our tomorrows.
I love you.
Write a poem or sing a song.
Leave it Out
Couples who are not confident public speakers, who find it difficult to speak up and be heard, or whose first language is not English, may opt not to say vows.
In this case the ceremony progresses straight to the 'I Dos' and on to the ring exchange.
The beauty of a Celebrant-led ceremony is that you have these choices, and can amend the ceremony format to one that you and your partner are most comfortable with.
So: what do I think is best?
Writing your own vows allows you to express in your own words how you feel about your partner, and is good for those who are confident at expressing themselves and their emotions.
To have your celebrant write your vows is better for those who are less confident in expressing themselves and need some guidance. They can then more easily adapt the vows written by the Celebrant to suit themselves.
For those not confident at public speaking or who struggle with English, speaking vows in their own language or omitting them completely is an option.
The Choice is Yours
As always with a Celebrant-led ceremony - the choice is yours!