As a Byron Bay celebrant who has performed over 200 weddings and elopements I have had the privilege and have been deeply touched and somewhat enlightened by hearing hundreds of bride and groom’s amazing vows to each other.
For me a couple’s vows are at the very heart of a marriage ceremony, and well deserving of contemplation, time and some extra effort…. Confronting as it may seem for many people when you rise to the occasion, you will be deeply happy with yourself as well as gifting your partner…. heart to heart.
(my favourite saying to self in these times is “come on, get out of your comfort zone we are all over this!)
On a funny note, throughout my years of being a marriage celebrant in Byron Bay, I would say that 40 percent of couples, when writing or speaking with me, refer to their vows as “Vowels” It’s True!!
It always makes me smile …I guess vows do contain 2 very significant vowels which are “I and You”!)
So back to VOWS
Let’s start with some dictionary definitions of vows.
With this in mind, it is an essential part of your personal vows, that they contain a promise, (or many promises) and given the power of word and intention, that promise is best to be realistic and achievable…there are plenty of noble things to promise and strive for…something cheeky thrown in as well can be a moment of joy amongst the tears.
When a couple ask me about writing their own vows the most common questions are:
To answer those questions briefly- there are 2 parts to the vows.
1.The first part is the compulsory part of the vows, which is a legal requirement and is where you are required to repeat
I call apon the people here present
To witness that I (your full name)
Take you (your partners full name)
To be my lawful (wedded wife, husband, spouse)
2.The second part is Where you are invited to make your own personal vows
(it is often added here “and to speak in good faith” which refers to the solemness and sacredness of what you are about to say)
The addition of a couple’s “Personal vows” is something that has only been traditionally introduced in the mid 19thcentury.
I read something which I found interesting which was “In the 1960s and 1970s, couples often wrote their own vows as a way of rebelling against their parent’s marriages, which many brides and grooms then viewed as unequal, unexamined and uncool”.
It’s great to see the progression we have made as a society from those days to now -where mutual respect and equality is strived for ….no more love, honour and obey! Just love and honour…Bring it on!
In many ways “personal vows” have put the power- fate -destiny, and more poignantly the responsibility of a couple’s relationship in their own hands, rather than being dictated by a religious sense of God being in control.
I will say -Though I am not religious…. I do have my own spiritual beliefs about “God”- Call it “the universal Life force” “the intelligent universe” the “omni present” the ‘infinite spirit” “Divine Love”…and countless other descriptions and concepts of the great mystery(it’s a mindboggling thing to define ) …ANYWAY I would like to express that I do believe in “Co-Creation” and that some things are “written in the stars”, or are “fated” ..but ultimately it is our responsibility, our choices, our intentions and actions, that flavour, define and shape the journey and the outcome of our relationships….just saying !
So back to vows and the questions.
Other than what we touched on above, there are no rules.
Your vows can be long or short, traditional - uniquely created, or something in-between,
They can be funny or serious, or a mix up, you can sing them write a poem, make them up on the spot, or both plan to say the same vows… you get what I am saying- go for it!
Some people like to be well organised and write their own vows months in advance, so they can relax. Others work off the concept that Diamonds are formed under pressure and leave it till the last moment, and there are those (though not many) that choose to say them off the cuff. I have been super impressed and at other times, though I love the bravery and edginess it displays, holding my breath and almost cringing from this option when it doesn’t roll, still it’s up to you, and as your celebrant I absolutely respect a person’s choice as to what they wish to do, and fully support them in it.
Your vows are deeply personal words written and delivered in your own style that will uniquely express your heart, your love story, your personality, your intentions, your quirks, and your relationship.
And when you have a desire to keep it simple and easy that’s also great…no pressure.
I am forever being blown away at the depth the love and the emotional intelligence that people access and articulate in their vows, and there has not been may times that I don’t tear up…Truly powerful moments that makes ones heart open.
Part 2 of this blog will give some tips for creating great vows, and points to embrace and avoid!