Writing your vows – You do, do you?

In this, the third in a series of guest posts from expert word-smith Hannah at HD Words, we are treated to yet more witty wisdom – this time covering those all important vows…

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When you are planning your wedding, you’ll have a list of things you need to organise, the dress, the rings, the flowers, the photographer, the venue, and so it goes on. The actual vows you speak, without which there is no wedding, can often fall by the wayside a little, and don’t get the focus they deserve. This is the time where you will be promising your partner that you will love and cherish each other for the rest of your lives, so it deserves some thought.

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Depending on the type of wedding you’re having, you may find you have a number of options available to you. A traditional church wedding is usually conducted according to certain guidelines, and whatever type of church you choose, you will be supported by the minister to choose music, hymns, readings, and which of the traditional forms of vows you wish to use. There will be freedom to choose non-religious readings, and music, but you if you find yourself uncomfortable with the Bible readings and hymns, you may need to have a think about why you’re marrying in a church in the first place.
Other religious ceremonies have their own traditions, and accepted content, and the person who is conducting the ceremony will be able to advise you.

For civil ceremonies, you may have a little more freedom. The law requires certain words to be spoken in order for you to be legally married – classic fodder for suspense dramas – did the heroine actually marry the evil villain, or did the hero rescue her in time, before the proper words were spoken… But I digress… (hmmm, Princess Bride…) No. No no. Where was I?

Vows. Yes, Wikipedia (source of all knowledge) has a helpful page of information about wedding vows, including the standard forms of words for various Christian traditions, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_vows. The legal form of words for civil ceremonies in England and Wales must include the following:
I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I … may not be joined in matrimony to …
I call upon these persons here present to witness that I … do take thee… to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband.

You can of course add to these. To avoid reinventing the wheel, I’ve not got bunches of suggestions for what you could say, but found instead a page with lots of alternatives, here. This site also has suggestions for readings, etc as well – very useful!

Writing your own vows can be lovely, but make sure you’ve checked thoroughly, and mean what you’re promising, not merely writing something that sounds good, or rhymes.

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Incidentally, speaking the vows can be a source of unintentional hilarity. I’ve been at a wedding where the minister invited the bride to take the groom as her wife, not husband. It took us a while to restore a calm, reverent atmosphere to the proceedings!!

Another thing to consider is whether you wish to repeat the vows after the person conducting the service, or read them (or even learn them) yourself. Following the celebrant, you get the familiar, ‘I do solemnly swear,’ ‘I do solemnly swear,’ ‘that I know not,’ ‘that I know not,’ ‘why I,’ ‘why I,’… that is so well known. But if you choose to go it alone, then make sure you’re confident in your memory, or have your crib sheet printed out nice and big.

I’ve got another blog post in the pipeline about the rest of the service or ceremony, thinking about music, readings, and the rest of what goes to make it something special. Till next time!

Thankyou for reading, and best wishes with organising your wedding, and for a long and happy marriage!

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Images by moi, your Pasties & Petticoats editor alter ego – Donna Sharpe Photography

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