You’re planning your wedding here in the Lake District and lots of time and thought is being spent on planning the reception, the guest list, the colour theme and a myriad of other things but what about your vows? After all, a wedding ceremony is ultimately about making a public promise to one another. Your vows to each other are a beautiful moment in the ceremony where you, as a couple, tell of your love, promise and commitment to each other.
You may be happy to use traditional religious wedding vows, lots of examples can be found easily as each religious faith has wedding traditions and practices, including marriage vows that have been passed down by the generations. The exact wording varies from place to place – some examples are Church of England, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, Hindu, Quaker, Buddhist, Interfaith and Nondenominational, Humanist and Civil Vows. You may want to have a look at some of these to give you some ideas for writing your own vows.
Make unique promises
Without doubt, vows are the most important and meaningful part of your wedding ceremony and should be as individual as you both. If you are choosing a celebrant-led wedding ceremony, you have the option of having a go at writing your own vows or working with your celebrant who will be able to help you craft ones that are personal, memorable and unique to the two of you. Go on, have a go.
You will find that putting your promises on paper is a thought provoking, emotional, eye-opening, and often extremely memorable experience. In the end, you may find that you come up with very traditional sounding words, but it is a journey that you will find worthwhile.
As your vows to each other is the most personal and intimate moment of your Wedding Ceremony, you need to think carefully about what you want to promise to each other. Remember that your friends and family will be listening – are they likely to be embarrassed by anything too private, too sentimental or anything that could be thought of as in bad taste?
Schedule time to talk.
You might find it useful to talk about the important, dates, events and turning points in your relationship. Consider the following questions:-
- When did you fall in love? Why?
- When did you each say ‘I love you’ for the first time?
- Why did you decide to get married/
- What qualities do you admire most in each other?
- How does your partner bring out the best in you?
- In what ways are you alike? In what ways are different?
- Have you gone through hard times together and how have you supported each other through these?
- Did you ever break up or nearly break up? What got you back and kept you back together?
- What do you have together that you don’t have apart?
- What challenges will you have in the future?
- What do you want to achieve together?
- What is the most important part of marriage to you?
You may find that some of the above you can include in your vows.
Tips for writing your vows
- Start early – give yourself time, maybe a couple of months before the ceremony at least and don’t rush.
- Get some ideas by looking at some traditional religious views to see if there is anything here that you identify with.
- For inspiration, have a look at poetry, love stories, maybe also religious and spiritual texts or ideas from films.
- Use wordings from other ceremonies or find some guidance on the internet if that helps.
- What are your expectations from each other from your marriage? Think about words like love, respect, cherish, support, commitment, promise and how you prioritise these things which may help you focus on what kind of vows you want.
- Some people choose to give a short history of their relationship; how they met and why they have chosen this particular person. Others decide to make a statement of their hopes and desires for this relationship and what they are willing to promise the other person in order to ensure their marriage succeeds.
- Decide if you will write your vows separately, if you’ll share with each other before the ceremony or if you’ll save the words for the ceremony which can make for a very powerful and emotional moment.
- You could begin with a simple statement such as ‘I have chosen you to be my husband/wife/partner for life because …. and then add the qualities about them that you love and admire. Follow it with your own promises, i.e. ‘I promise to love you and be faithful to you for the rest of our lives together…….’
- The vows may include promises to care for the other person through difficult times, or even make reference to difficult times that you have already come through together which has made your relationship stronger. You may also want to make reference to forgiveness, understanding and the responsibilities of sharing.
- Keep it meaningful and dignified. Your vows can be light and maybe funny, but they should acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you are about to make.
- If you already have children or are going to become a step-parent through this marriage, you may also like to include your hopes and dreams for your future as a family, and to reassure the child(ren) of your new role in one another’s lives.
- Make sure your guests will identify with you and the vows – that they can understand the meaning. You will want o keep them with you in the moment.
- Don’t make them too long.
- If you are having a celebrant-led ceremony, discuss your vows either separately or together with your celebrant who will be able to help, advise and support you.
- Have a final version at least a few days before the wedding that you can practice so they will sound good when you say them.
- Consider having the vows printed so you can read them or have your celebrant speak them and you repeat them – generally advice is not to memorise in case nerves take over on the day.
- Make sure your guests will be able to hear you especially if it is a large or outside wedding, you might need to consider a microphone. You don’t want your guests to disconnect if they can’t hear or understand.
You can show your love for each other by writing your vows for your Lake District Wedding Ceremony that speak from the heart and reflect your journey with your partner. Good Luck.
Valerie Marshall, Independent Celebrant
Providing Wedding, Naming, Renewal of Vows and Funeral Ceremonies.