It’s the part of the wedding ceremony when you can hear a penny drop (OK more likely a mobile phone going off lol). When it comes to the Vows, everyone goes quiet because they want to clearly hear what you are saying.
Sharing your Vows, the inner contents of your heart and soul, with your partner, in front of all the people you love is a wonderful feeling that words cannot express.
I have been conducting same sex commitment ceremonies and now weddings for over 16 years and there is nothing more special or memorable as a well crafted wedding Vow yet nothing that can bring up more fear or concern. However knowledge is power and in this case there are a few simple things to do to dispel fear and make it a fun and fabulous journey to writing and speaking your Vows.
What are the Minimum Vows (section 45 (2) of the Marriage Act 1961) I must say at my wedding?
When your celebrant marries you, in every case you will be obliged to repeat aloud the minimum legal Vow:
I [your full legal name] take you [full legal name of your partner/fiancé]to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse or partner-in-marriage.
You can take out the word ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’ but not both. As it can be argued that the exchange of these vows in front of your witnesses creates the legal marriage, if you try and attempt to make a joke (yes it happens!) and refer to my ‘awful wedded wife’ - your celebrant will stop you and get you to repeat the correct Vow as this is the essence of your wedding pact and creates a legal marriage.
Can I add additional Vows after these?
Yes absolutely! You can add what you like after this first sentence. Some couples ask if they can put a comic slant on it and get their partner to promise to give them full TV Remote rights on a Sunday or leave the toilet seat down or up. Whilst this is possible, most couples wish to create a pledge or promise that embodies some core values that are meaningful to them and which they would wish to continue for a lifetime. Highest in terms of loving priorities are values like trust, respect, loyalty, friendship, commitment, honesty and naturally love. It is up to you to work out what are the most meaningful to you.
If you are thinking, I will never remember my Vows with everyone looking at me- don’t worry- you don’t have to. Your celebrant will feed you each phrase you have created and make speaking them easy and enjoyable for you or let you read them from a card if they are longer.
Can I say Surprise Vows or Pledges to my partner on my wedding day?
Yes, a lovely spontaneous part to your ceremony where each shares some words or a poem etc with each other adds surprise and is often very heart opening. This may be added after the legal Vows noted above or be a completely separate part of the ceremony. Usually I introduce this part with “A and B now wish to share pledges with each othe that they have not shared until their wedding day. They are not only a surprise to you but a loving surprise to each other and form the central core of spontaneity within this ceremony…so reach for your tissues as there may not be a dry eye afterwards, just saying!” I get the couple to individually email me their Surprise Pledge prior.
Celebrant \\ Melissa Halliday \\ Sydney, NSW
Photographer \\ James White
I am stuck on writing my Vows- how can I get creative, have you got any tips?
Firstly, you are making these promises for a lifetime, they’re a big deal. I encourage couples to take ownership of writing their vows by creating a fun Date or Vow Night. Delicious meal, great wine, candlelight, a romantic atmosphere- whatever puts you both in the mood for being relaxed and open. Take a blank piece of paper each. Set yourself five minutes. Set your phone alarm and create a topic e.g “What I wish to promise you on my wedding day” or “5 things I Love about you” or just google wedding vows and get some ideas and inspiration. This rough draft is a great start as it will be honest and you can clean it up later. Often it’s good to revisit your Vows closer to the ceremony to massage them a bit more. You get the idea.
Do you have some examples of Vows I can use as inspiration?
Yes it is always good to google wedding vows and you may do a simple Vow or incorporate it with a ring exchange such as : “Take this ring along with my heart for both belong to you.”
Other Vows: “I want to be with you always just as you are. I choose you above all others to share my life with and to be my best friend. I love you for who you are and I want you to become all that you can be” to “I offer myself to you as companion, lover and best friend. I promise to share my life, laughter and love with you.” to “I promise to trust you, respect you, laugh and cry with you. To encourage and nurture your individuality and creativity. To be your rock on which to build our family and make our plans together. To love you unconditionally, for all that you are and all that you will become. To start and end each day in your arms, as you are the place I call my home. I give you my hand, my heart, my life.”