Personal Vows a Labour of Love

  • Posted 31 Jul 2015 | By admin
vow card resized

Will you or won’t you write personal vows? For some their wedding ceremony is simply a legal requirement that precedes the wow party but for others their ceremony is the heart and soul of their celebration and central to that are the promises, the rich tapestry of words they say to each other during their exchange of vows.  Words flow easily for some, but for many it is a challenge to verbalise publically what is in their hearts, a challenge second only to delivering the speech later in the celebration.

For marriages to be legal in Australia all couples must say the legal vow which is one sentence. ‘I call upon the people here present to witness that I, full name, take you, partner’s full name, to be my lawful wedded husband/wife’.  Apart from a couple of word choices this vow is non-negotiable.  Most couples choose to supplement this with a personal vow which is an opportunity to bring a warm authenticity into your ceremony. However, it is often a stumbling block.

A celebrant’s role includes supplying resources to assist in the creation of personal vows.  For those who need a little help, I provide templates, samples and an excellent ebook, Create Your Own Inspiring Wedding Vows by Wendy Haynes. When clients seek my input, I often draw upon my background in teaching to assist in the development and editing of vows until they are perfect.

Your first decision will be to decide if you will say the same or different words.  Next you will consider if you would like to keep your vows secret till sharing time in your ceremony.  If keeping secret, it’s strongly recommended that you share your vows with your celebrant to allow them to check for any glaring discrepancies.

Couples find it easier when I suggest they deconstruct their vow into three manageable sections, declaration, commitment and future.   First is the declaration where you will greet your love, perhaps reflect on your time together and what you adore about them.  Next is the body of the vow, where you state your promises in words that reflect you and your partnership.  This can be a few sentences or a paragraph or two and is also an opportunity to inject humour if you wish.  Finally you warp it up with a look to the future and the new phase of your life that is about to begin.  Done!

The exchange of vows is often a time when emotions bubble up, time for the chivalrous groom to pull a hanky from his pocket.  If emotion gets the better of you, we simply stop for a moment and when ready, resume.  You may be surprised that it is often the groom’s eyes that moisten and on one occasion, the best man as well! The touching words, spoken from the bride’s heart, engaged and moved us all!

Occasionally couples are adamant that they will learn their vows off by heart and no thanks, they won’t need prompting.  Experience has proven that this is rarely achievable.  In the moment, adrenaline gets the better of you and memory lapses.  I insist on having copies of vows before the ceremony.

You need to consider if you want your guests to hear your exchange of vows.  By law your witnesses and you celebrant must hear but it is your choice if you would like to amplify your words.  Guests want to hear your promises and be immersed in the moment with you. You can either echo your celebrant as they read small phrases or you can read from a vow card.  Most of my couples elect to read from vow cards which I have professionally prepared by Sunshine & Confetti, suppliers of bespoke stationery items for every occasion.  They are based on the Gold Coast and ship Australia wide. Your vow card is made with your colour scheme in mind and doubles as a beautiful keepsake.

Most elements of your wedding celebration will be created by others but your vows will by your creation.  Your emotional investment will yield you much richness and authenticity and engage you guests in the significance of the occasion.  Enjoy the journey!