Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
First of all, you should know that writing your own wedding vows is fairly contemporary. It only became a tradition in the 1960's as a feminist rebellion against what some viewed as a misogynist religious ceremony where women were made to say they would obey their husbands (but not the other way around). There are ultimately three types of vows within ceremonies created today.
1. Consent: In Ontario, it is required by the Marriage Act to verbally state that you are consenting to be married. These are really the 'I Do's' and resemble the traditional wedding vows.
Here is an example of what I use:
Devon, you have chosen Jamie to be your (wife/husband/partner/ spouse). Do you promise to love and respect her? Do you promise to be honest with her always? And, do you promise to stand by her through whatever may come? ('I do!')
More traditional couples may also opt for this:
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my wife (husband/partner/spouse), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, and this is my solemn vow.
Photo Credit: Diego and Liza
2. Ring Exchange: Couples can use this ritual as an opportunity to speak chosen words of commitment to one another. Because their hands are holding the rings and their partner's hands, this is often repeated after the Officiant as opposed to reading them from a paper. Or, the couple can simply say anything that they wish to say, or nothing at all.
The sample I often put in the draft ceremonies for the couple to consider are these words, which they repeat after me:
"I give you this ring, that you may wear it, as a symbol of the vows, we have made this day. I pledge you my love and respect, my laughter and my tears. With all that I am I honour you."
Traditional Ring Exchange Words are:
"With this ring, I thee wed, / and from this day forward, / I consecrate and commit / my love and my life / to you alone."
3. And finally, the one you've all been waiting for... Your own vows!: These are not legally required and therefore you can pretty much say anything you wish. There are many different ways to approach this task.
You can write them and read them off of a piece of paper (253 words is a good length).
You can make them short and have the Officiant prompt you and you repeat them.
You can have the Officiant read what you wish to vow to each other (for the shy couple!)
You can sing them, or do interpretive dance moves (hey, why not?)
You can skip them all together, because again, they are a new wedding tradition that has been romanticized over the last few decades and not everyone is comfortable saying intimate words in public. One option I suggest is that the couple writes their own vows and does the wine box ceremony.
I have three videos that help couples come up with the content for their own vows. The first explores brainstorming the content, the second gives examples of different types of vows, and the third is just a list of word suggestions if you get stuck.
Here are the sample vows I offer that couples can simply repeat after me:
" I take you to be my best friend, my faithful partner and my one true love. I promise to encourage you And inspire you And to love you truly through good times & bad I will forever be there to laugh with you, To lift you up when you are down And to love you unconditionally through all our adventures in life together"