The most romantic and anticipated part of a wedding ceremony are the Vows. If you think of the I Do’s as a contract, the Vows are the covenant above the contract. You’ve agreed to marry your partner, now what do you promise beyond that simple action? To love and cherish? To remain faithful through good times and bad? To wash the dishes if the other cooks?
Vows can be serious or humorous – it’s totally up to you and your partner. Or maybe a mixture of both. Whatever fits your personalities and relationship. Your guests especially want to hear the two of you speak, so choosing or writing your Vows should be carefully considered.
This is also a time to remind your partner – and guests – what you love about them. Telling a previously private story (that isn’t too raunchy!) will bring smiles and happy tears.
Another point to consider is whether you want to read your Vows off a paper/card, or repeat them after the officiant. For my couples, I nevertrust them to be memorized. Even if a couple says they will memorize their Vows, I have a copy nearby in case nerves take over. For more formal Vows (“For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health”), repeating them after the officiant might be the best way to go. You can continue to hold hands, and look into each other’s eyes. If you’ve written your own Vows, or want to make them unique to the two of you, reading them off a paper seems more authentic. Just be aware that you will have to hold the paper, and not your partner’s hands, and that you will lose eye contact while reading. Also, whichever you choose – repeat or read – do so LOUDLY. As mentioned, your guests are looking forward to this part of your wedding, and those in the back want to hear them as much as your soon-to-be spouse.
If you choose to write your own Vows, make sure your officiant has a copy of them a couple of weeks, at least, before your ceremony. A good officiant can let you know if one partner’s Vows are two pages long, while the other partner’s is two sentences. Without telling the other the specifics – as you might want them to be a surprise – the officiant can suggest editing down one set of Vows, while asking the other to elaborate more. They should be of approximately equal length and of similar tone (serious, funny, etc.).
At this point, you have legally agreed to marry, and have promised more personal vows. Next, it’s time to seal those vows with something physical – Rings.