In working with couples on their wedding ceremonies, obviously one of the first—and most important—parts of the wedding are the vows. Although this is the heart of the ceremony, many couples remain confused or uncertain about how they wish to proceed with their vows. Questions swirl in their head: “Should we write our own vows?” “Should we do the tried and true vows heard at so many weddings?” “What makes appropriate content for vows?” “What if we are too nervous to repeat our vows on the Big Day?” To all of this, I say, “Relax!”
In working with so many couples over the years, I have tried to provide resources online that will provide a range of vow samples that include promises with various religious and spiritual traditions, contemporary vows, and unusual options such as vows from a Buddhist orientation. My hope is that the couple may find something that appeals to them (or, perhaps a combination of several samples). Alternatively, I suspect that after seeing a number of examples, the creative juice may start to follow as anxiety is lifted about what vows might look like.
Here are some of my familiar bits of wisdom that I offer to couples looking to select vows for the wedding ceremony:
- Go with your heart. If you like the idea of “traditional” vows that have been spoken by family members and loved ones before, don’t feel a need to select a more unusual option.
- If you write your own vows, partners need not be concerned about whether their respective vows will be similar, in length, tone, or detail. These are your spoken words, I advise, reflecting your unique personality. Let the ideas flow!
- As you consider writing your own vows, think “outside the box” about content you might want to include. For instance bits of reading, song lyrics, and even personal journal entries make for beautiful additions to vows.
- Don’t feel hemmed in by going with one type of vow over another. Perhaps at my suggestion or urging, a number of my recent couples have opted to do a hybrid type of vow that includes each person reciting standard vows. After that exchange the couple then adds a personal statement of their own, incorporating the best of all possible worlds.
Some time ago, I had read about the unusual, but compelling vows, exchanged by Peter Orszag, former director of the Congressional Budget Office & Office of Management and Budget, and stunning Bianna Golodryga, a weekend anchor on the ABC Good morning America program. They exchanged their vows entirely in private—whispers in their ears, despite the fact that they had a huge wedding at NYC venue Capitale. I mentioned this idea to a creative, and super smart couple I married recently. One groom was studying for a PhD in Linguistics. The other is a psychology professor at a top notch university and prolific author. They liked this secret vow idea. And so after they took more standard vows, they offered private thoughts to each other, captured in this delightful photograph by Monica Velez of Sugar Beet Photo. I loved that moment in the wedding, and I think the delight was captured on our faces, knowing that we were witnessing the most extraordinary sweet nothings ever shared between these two lovely men.