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I remember having this conversation when the hubs and I first got engaged. Should we write our own wedding vows?
I had the chat with my best friend too, someone who had a wedding day steeped in tradition. To her and her husband, the significance of traditional vows were extremely important to them. Traditional vows were the only thing that truly sealed the deal.
My husband and I we were the opposite, we knew we were not traditional, so when it came to having a conversation about vows, It was a no brainer for us.
We wanted to write our own.
Something that meant something to us and only us.
We wanted our wedding day to be about us, our union, about our rules and our promises and lifelong commitment to each other.
That and the fact I was a bit of a feminist and hated (strong word I know!) the patriarchal weight some of the traditional vows carried, like “honour and obey” for example. (Obey who??!?!) That vow alone was a deal breaker for me.
JK Photography | Trouble and strife!
For some, writing their own vows adds an element of ‘accountability’. I have to agree with this, the act of thinking about them, then writing them and then committing to honour them is quite a powerful exercise in itself.
Choosing words that mean something to you both and that are representative of your relationship as it is now and what you would like it to blossom into.
Many aren’t even aware it is possible to write their own vows and don’t even consider it, and just go with grain, the way it’s always been done. But you do have a choice!
If having personalised vows are important to you, it may influence the type of ceremony you end up having.
The choice between whether you write your own vows or not is SUCH a personal choice. But it is a choice you are able to consider early into your planning and only one that you both should make. So plan ahead, asks questions and do your research to help you make an informed decision.
What ceremony do you want?
It might not feel like it, but writing your own vows and having the kind of ceremony you want is entirely at your discretion. YOU can decide. Whether you are religious or not. There are ways to incorporate your relationship, your personalities and / or faith without feeling like you are sacrificing one over the other.
Davi Matheson | Nana and Fritz
The very nature of traditional, religious marriage ceremonies, mean there is a lot less flexibility over whether or not you will be able incorporate your own vows in your chosen place of worship.
For legal reasons both the Catholic Church and the Church of England state that vows cannot be altered in any way. Couples who marry reciting traditional vows are not only making promises to each other, but to God, so there is no room to move with vows. (However, there may be another option, check out ‘best of both’ below)
If you are having a Reform (Jewish) wedding you may be able to discuss with a Rabbi about adding your own personal vows to your service. So it’s worth expressing your wishes early on to your potential officiant about what is or isn’t possible, there are always work-arounds!
Check with your celebrant that you will have the freedom to write your own vows. Most civil celebrants will automatically provide basic options for non-religious vows for you to choose from. If you don’t want to regurgitate template vows, you are within your rights to express that you would like to write and exchange your own, most celebrants will happily allow you to do so, in addition to the legal declarations you need to make that are required by law.
Humanist or bespoke ceremonies
For full free rein, you may wish to choose to have a bespoke or humanist ceremony, where your entire wedding ceremony is tailored around you, your love story and what feels important to you both, from the script and storytelling, right down to the traditions, rituals and vows. A humanist or bespoke ceremony is also a really lovely alternative if you are both from different faiths and want to have a ceremony that feels inclusive of all faiths and also to those who are not religious.
Best of both worlds
Depending on who is marrying you and where, you might be able to incorporate both traditional vows with some promises. This might suit you if the sanctity a religious ceremony is important to you. You could recite traditional vows in your chosen place of worship and round off the ceremony by sharing some “promises” as a reading instead.
Or vice versa – if you like the creative freedom of a non-religious ceremony with music and personal vows of your choosing, you could incorporate a religious blessing after a bespoke, civil, or humanist ceremony to incorporate your faith too. Oh yes you can.
Mr Nu Bride and I did this and it was the perfect combination for us, we chose a civil ceremony and had quite a lot of creative control over the content along with exchanging our own personal vows and had a wonderful vicar perform a religious blessing for us after we were legally married. All they had to do was wait for the civil celebrants to leave the room after we were legally declared husband and wife (we played music during this transition) and then we started the blessing.
Always ask what is possible, as just because it isn’t openly advertised, doesn’t mean you can’t change things around a little.
Make it personal
The beauty of writing your own wedding vows is that you get to really explore what is important to you both, what your relationship means now and what you hope for each other in the future. It is quite a powerful exercise writing your own vows and then committing to them in-front of all your friends and family. Quite magical.
How often do we get to write each other the love note of all love notes! To express ourselves in such a scared way is a joy. Even though you know how much you mean to each other, somehow placing pen to paper adds another hidden depth and you might surprise each other with what comes out!
It goes without saying (no pun intended!) writing and reciting your own wedding vows will add your stamp, make your own mark on your ceremony and it will definitely make it stand out from the rest and more importantly hold value to you and only you.
Whatever you decide to do, be your gorgeous lovely selves! Research, ask questions, think outside the box and make an informed decision. Enjoy!
Header Image: Fiona Kelly