The ‘Big Day’ is nearly here. You are super excited. But then, after months of dreaming, discussing and dissecting your wedding plans, your celebrant suddenly reveals that you will have to say your vows out loud. It’s a legal requirement, she says.
OMG, you say, feeling nervous and overwhelmed at the prospect of being the centre of attention. You hate speaking in public and now, instead of looking forward to your wedding ceremony, you have sleepless nights.
If this is you, then you’re not alone. For many people, fear of public speaking is ranked above fear of death! Fortunately, your legal vows only consist of one sentence: ‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, Jane, take you, John, to be my wedded husband/wife’. That’s it, that’s all you have to say by law. Your celebrant can either give you this to read out loud at the appropriate time in the ceremony or you could simply repeat the words after her.
But what about if you also want to voice your personal vows? More speech, less comfort zone. What to do? Well, first please let your celebrant know about your public speaking phobia. Believe me, most of us come across this all the time and there are some options that might help take the pressure off.
* You might like to write your vows to your husband/wife-to-be in a letter. I have had couples that have arranged a mutual time to exchange vows on their wedding day and I have explained this to their guests during the ceremony.
* You could ask your celebrant to ‘sort of’ incorporate your vows on your behalf. For example ‘John has asked me to tell you Jane that he promises X,Y and Z’.
* You could simply repeat your vows after your celebrant. For example, your celebrant will speak your vows into the microphone and pause while you repeat to your future husband/wife. Honestly, your guests will think this is normal and will just hear your beautiful words.
BTW, your personal vows can be anything you like. They can be as short or as long as you want. And they can be the same for the bride and groom, or different … your choice! Don’t hesitate to add some humour if it comes naturally.
Read them over many times in private to get familiar with the words. Talk slowly and deliberately, hold the microphone close and just imagine that it’s just you and the love of your life.
And finally – don’t worry if you start to feel emotional … everyone at the ceremony, including your celebrant, will probably have a little lump in their throats anyway! So, speak up strongly and tell everyone how much you love that very special person you are only moments away from marrying!