The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Vows
Have you ever wondered what wedding vows mean and where they fit into a ceremony? If you’re planning your wedding and you’ve got any queries about wedding vows, hopefully the following should help.
Many couples choose a Celebrant service solely because they are looking for the personalised vows element of the ceremony. This is how much the vows mean to them. But I know there are other couples who are taken by surprise by just how bespoke and personal this element can be. Couples who originally book a registrar, then choose a Celebrant like me for the blessing after, are usually blown away by the fact that they can say their own vows. But they love it because it adds honesty and intimacy to the ceremony. I have to be careful not to tear up at this stage myself.
Vows are a way of telling your beloved just what they mean to you, in front of and with family and friends. They are a personal promise or declaration of your love, and it’s easy to see just why so many people are keen to make them their own.
Here’s a little bit of history regarding wedding vows. They haven’t all been up to the bride and groom, and in fact the word Wedding derives from an old English word ‘Wedd’ which means to wager or redeem a pledge. Grooms would have been required to acknowledge living arrangements and property divisions, usually between the bride and groom’s families, and then read these out loud before a typically heavily armed gathering of relatives and towns people… oh dear!
The modern decree which says ‘should anyone object to this marriage or forever hold your peace’ symbolises what may have been in times past an important declaration that could have sparked objections. And a very interesting fact: did you know that the tradition whereby a bride stands to the groom’s left – his heart side – comes from the practical need of having the right sword arm free in case a dispute arises about the deal? Gosh, let’s hope not at one of my ceremonies!
Vows are a personal promise or declaration of your love, described in a way which encapsulates your relationship. Vows or promises are usually made before the exchange or blessing of rings and can be in many formats.
You can choose ‘off the peg’, which is a pre-written format. In this instance you can repeat after the Celebrant, which is especially useful if you are too nervous to read. Or you could write your own and learn them off by heart, which is a very brave thing to do, but can be very touching. Or, as in my couples, I can write them up for you in a beautiful vow booklet, all wrapped up with a lovely ribbon which will match your colour theme.
A super and exciting way to incorporate vows is to write your own and not show each other. What a big surprise on the day! And guess what, I actually had a couple, Amber and Jon, who did exactly this. They loved Gavin and Stacey (I mean, who doesn’t?), and Amber decided it would be great to include a portion of one of the shows where Dawn and Pete renewed their vows, and this is what she said to Jon on the day, in between lots of giggles and laughter!
The last couple I met with, very recently, are including a nod to Twilight within their vows. The bride is absolutely obsessed with the movies, so guess what I am going to be watching soon!
If it helps, here is some cautionary advice. I would encourage couples to send their ‘own’ vows to me or whoever their Celebrant is, just so they can ‘dip test’ them. This makes sure your partner is on the same page. No one wants to be embarrassed on their big day!
No matter how you say your vows, it is always best to talk things through with your Celebrant. I send all my couples a Guide to Vow Writing, with lots of advice and examples, but at the end of the day it is about what you want. It is a really personalised part of the ceremony which is always moving and should be at the heart of your planning.
For any further advice on wedding vows, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.