I’ll love you, ‘til the vows come home.
– I detect a little misapprehension out there among many prospective brides and grooms as to what they have to say and what they can say when it comes to ‘their vows’.
Let me try to clear it up a little. As far as the law is concerned, the bride and groom each only have to say the following:
“I call upon everyone gathered here to witness that I take you (name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband”.
That’s it! Not one more word is legally required. Don’t you think that would make the vows very short and impersonal! But happily most couples add in their own personal vows as well. My feeling is that these represent the essence, the very heart and soul of the marriage ceremony. It’s a wonderful opportunity to pronounce his or her individual, heartfelt promises to their soul mate in the sight and hearing of their friends and family. That includes and involves the latter in a very personal and intimate way.
The personal vows need not be a long litany of solemn promises and pledges. They need only be a few sentences; they can be serious or funny, quirky or romantic. Ideally they should simply reflect how you feel about your commitment to this awesome person you are about to spend the rest of your life with.
There are various styles of personal vow. Here are some examples that might help you craft your own, you can adopt them or adapt them to suit your needs.
“I will be a loving husband/wife. I promise to respect and encourage your fulfilment as an individual. In marrying you, I promise to nurture the love and friendship we have. I promise to always cherish the joy of being with you. I recognise that part of our strength comes from the little things that make us happy. I promise to love you through good fortune and adversity, forever.”
“You are my best friend. You make me laugh and cry, you are honest and wise. You are my strength and you are kindhearted. You always love me no matter what. You have always managed to help me through bad times and I cannot imagine my life without you. Today, I want to make a promise to you and to myself, in front of our friends and family, to love, honour and protect you for all the days of my life.”
Those two examples were more narrative in style. But alternatively, you could just pick n‘ mix a handful from the following list of specific pledges (while adding your own):
• I promise to do all I can to make you happy
• I promise to support you
• I promise to encourage you
• I promise to love you for who you are
• I promise to respect your choices
• I promise to laugh with you
• I promise to hold your hand when you are sad
• I promise to be there when you need me
• I promise to be kind, caring and considerate
• I promise to be fun
• I promise to show you my love with actions as well as words
• I promise not to take you for granted
• I promise to listen and encourage your dreams
• I promise to keep working at being a good husband/wife
• I promise to love you more than … soccer /shopping /spaghetti!
• I promise to never … make/do xxxxxxxxx ever again
Thank you for being you and for loving me.
The only criteria for vows is that they come from the heart, they are meaningful to your new husband or wife, and that, unlike New Year Resolutions, they are achievable.
And, finally, while on the subject of vows – what could be more romantic than having a beautiful ‘Renewal of Vows’ ceremony 5,10 15 or more years later? What a thrill that would be for me to be chosen as your celebrant for that also!