Wedding vows are an important part of any wedding ceremony, whether religious or not, indoors or outside, with 50 people or 500–the vows that you share with one another are the first promises that you’ll share going into your new life together as a married couple.
So why do we have wedding vows anyway? Isn’t marriage an institution with God? Shouldn’t He know what is in our hearts? Well, of course He does, but let’s look at the history of wedding vows. Dating back to the early 1000s, there was a ritual performed after Christian gatherings for worship. They would end their time together with a familiar saying “To have and to hold from this day forward.” This was later adapted by the Anglican Church in the 1500s by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The book outlined common prayers for baptisms, funerals, traditional gatherings and of course–weddings.
If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard, “I _____ take you, _____, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…” etc. etc. So you can see that our traditional vows originate from nearly 1000 years ago and were then modified nearly 600 years ago to what we still use today.
So why break tradition?
We live in an age where I think that we may have a bigger understanding of what is happening. No longer is marriage just a union of two families to bring their crops together, join their lands, or gain political power (well–usually it isn’t). It’s about the union of a couple that waded through thousands of swipes on Tinder, shameless bar flirtations, high school crushes and failed attempts at long distance. We’re a connected world and with that connection introduces an almost infinite amount of choices in partnering ourselves with someone else. But here we are, with the one person that we have promised ourselves to–would do anything for–and with whom we want to spend the rest of our days. So why not make that a testimony to your love?
To write your own vows, you may want to agree on a few things to begin.
- How long do you want them to be
- Will you share inside jokes, intimate details, or keep it simple?
- Do you want religious or traditional values implemented into them?
By agreeing on a few things like this, you begin to form the foundations of the first promise of the rest of your lives together.
Beyond these things–a few other things you can think about implementing may be how you will promise to be present through hardships and trials. This can be made serious or light depending on who you are, your personality, and your relationship and could be something such as “I promise to stand by your side even when we run out of coffee filters and the french press is broken.”
Highlighting your need for the other is relevant and showcases the depth of your love.
Since we talked a lot about tradition, some things should remain, such as a promise–whether that be to promise to love one another until death do you part or perhaps something more lyrical and Lana del Rey-esque such as “I will love you ‘til the end of time, I would wait a million years.” It’s your wedding and if you want to throw in some abstract lyrics that only I might recognize, fine–you know I’ll be feeling that for a lifetime.
While you should include how much you love one another, your promises, and whatever else you’d like to share with your future spouse–remember that you don’t have to share it all. You have an entire lifetime together to share a little more each day. They say that actions speak louder than words–but words do matter–especially in your relationship. So even if you can’t share about every moment that you watched them sleeping — you have an entire life to show them how much they mean to you.
Finally, it’s okay to be a little cheesy. Love makes us all do things that most others can relate to. Heartfelt trumps cheesy every day. So be sincere and it will be welcomed.
Okay–actually two more things. I’m referencing an article from Brides that I’ll link below so you can see where some of this inspiration came from and read more about it. One thing that really stood out to me is to not use the words always or never. Always and never are finite and complete–it implies something that could easily result in failure of that promise. “I promise to never eat your McDonald’s french fries on the way home to you” and then you accidentally do 5 years later when you’ve forgotten about that. Instead–use alternative words such as “I’m going to do my best” because that shows a desire to continually work on yourself, rather than promise something that may be true later
Finallllllly, PRINT YOUR VOWS! We live in an age where technology is constantly around us. But you’re probably not going to want to check your cell phone in the middle of your ceremony for texts or to scroll through Facebook. In fact, you should check it at the door because those pants that grooms wear show every crease and line–and I’ve only seen a handful of wedding dresses with built in pockets. Keep the pockets stuffed with tissues and your pants neat and tidy. You can use a website such as Canva.com to paste your vows on and then choose to print it directly from home or have it sent over to Staples or Kinkos and printed on a nice cardstock. Not only would this look much nicer and potentially last — you could frame it and hang it in your bedroom to remind you of your promises daily — but it also looks nicer. Call me old fashioned but I hate seeing people on their cell phones when I’m trying to be engaged with them–even as a spectator or guest.
(I also recommend the same thing for anyone giving a speech or toast at your wedding. A printed speech, even on printer paper looks far nicer than staring at a tiny screen for 10 minutes).