Writing Epic Wedding Vows by Kerri Watkins Celebrant
13/6/2020- Tips and Articles – by Kerri Watkins Celebrant
Hands up who has a mobile phone?
Hands up who has a notes or app on their phone where they can take notes?
Hands up who sends text messages to their partner?
Hands up who leaves post it notes or love letters for their partner? This one has me curious?
And what does all this have to do with writing the most epic vows ever? You’ll see 🙂
Ok, so 90% of you have got this covered!!!!!!! You are already doing it!!!!!!! That takes some pressure off straight away doesn’t it???
So, let’s start – what are vows? I’ll cover the legal component first – this is 25 words (depending how many names you have) that are legally required to be said. An example is… I, Kerri Leigh Watkins, call upon the persons here present, to witness, that I take you, FULL NAME, to be my lawful, wedded husband or wife or partner.
Now the exciting part, your personal vows to each other… So, where when how what why…
As a Brisbane Wedding Celebrant, I’ll start with why. Why not? In all seriousness… this is your moment to share publicly why you love your partner, and share with them all the beautiful promises, hopes and dreams that you have for your future together. This is generally shared in front of your treasured family and friends. You can even throw some annoying habits in there – but at the end of the day, you’ll promise to love them always.
Where should your personal vows be said? Legally these should be said after the legal vows and before you do the signing of the register. What I suggest to my couples is to incorporate them with your legal vows. To extend them. To make them more heartfelt. Or an alternative would be to say your legal vows, then use some short and sweet ring vows to put your wedding rings on and then follow with your personal vows to each other after.
So, an example would be I, Kerri Leigh Watkins, call upon the persons here present, to witness, that I take you, FULL NAME, to be my lawful, wedded husband or wife or partner. Paul, with this ring, I take you to be my husband and my favourite weirdo. Let it be a reminder that wherever you go, my love goes with you.
This covers the legal aspects and it’s a sweet and short way to put your wedding rings on without too much pressure of holding the rings, making your promises, and basically you will have a hand free so that you can reach out to each other, instead of being all awkward holding rings, wanting to touch and depending how long they are or which delivery method you choose, holding your vow cards too… too much holding going on
A lot of couples stop there – its covered the legal aspects and it puts the rings on. Not everyone wants to pour their heart out in front of their family and friends – and that’s ok too! This is your day!
For those that do want to make special promises or reflect on their journey and their relationship with their partner… we will keep going…
So, this leads me on to how should you deliver for your personal vows? There are many options, you can read them from cards to each other, you could repeat line by line after your celebrant or you could memorise them. I’m not a huge advocate for memorising your vows – the reason I say this is because I guarantee – unless you are a professional public speaker or an actor – you are going to get caught up in the moment and forget what you want to say. This is why I have my cheat sheet!
If your personal vows are short and sweet, 1 or 2 lines – repeat them after your celebrant. They can stand to the side and read you your lines one by one, while you look lovingly into your partners eyes and repeat after them.
If you’ve decided that you are going to, as an example make 5 promises and 5 pledges – I would suggest reading from vow cards. I’d also suggest doing the legal component first and putting the ring on by repeating after your celebrant – that way they are there to help you with the wording and holding your rings or settling any nerves. Then, your celebrant would hand you your vow cards and the microphone and you would pour your heart out and laugh and giggle and sometimes cry to your partner.
Ok, so remember at the beginning I asked you if you had a mobile phone that has some sort of notes app? This is where we get to the exciting stuff.
But before I move on… I often get asked… when should you start writing your vows? As soon as you start planning your wedding or now! This is where your notes app on your mobile will come in handy, or if you like pen to paper, go get yourself a cute little journal for ‘your eyes only’ and when you catch yourself thinking about your partner, or they do something annoying – jot it down – this is what I like to call the “juicy stuff”. Compile your notes, memories, hopes and dreams. And don’t leave it until 5 minutes before the ceremony – yup its happened.
Everyone is different. Some people like to take their time to put their words down and together, others can just write.
But here is my top tip. Use the KISS method – keep it simple sweety!! Think of 5 things you love about your partner or what they have taught you, jot down special firsts, what made you fall in love with them, what have they taught you, think of 5 promises or hopes and dreams that you have for your future together… favourite sayings to each other… you pretty much have your personal vow there.
Speak in your own language. Go back through your phone and have a look at your cutesy tutesy messages, or your own personal inside jokes. Use it – this is your gold!!!!
Take inspiration from movies, songs that you like – it may not be the perfect beat to walk down the aisle too, but the words of that song touch your heart or remind you of your partner – use them!!!!
Google images, Pinterest, books, quotes – there is so many examples out there. I have a booklet that I can give my couples full of vows…. Your celebrant might offer this too. Wendy Haynes, a Coffs Harbour Celebrant has some awesome guides and books for download on her website – her content is amazing!!!! But remember – your language. Google funny vows for her or him if you need examples – you’ll find links to blogs, wedding vow websites, videos – then click on images – you’ll get lost with all of the content and may feel overwhelmed by how people have put their words together. But Remember KISS – keep it simple sweety. Write your vows the way that you speak to each other. Be authentically you!
A couple of final points that I would like to mention:
One is length – how long is too long? This is a personal choice. A few of my couples have requested that I perform the legal components of the ceremony and then the remainder of their ceremony is them talking to each other – reminiscing about their past together and hopes and dreams for their future. This is quite beautiful in a small and intimate ceremony. I’ve not seen it done in a large ceremony, but at the end of the day – it’s your day and the words spoken should reflect you, so again this is a personal choice.
The same for how short is too short – we’ve covered the 25ish legal words make you married, anything more than this is your personal vows.
But, have a chat to your partner to decide on a rough length. Example one partner talks for 5 minutes and the other talks for 1 minute – does it matter?
A compromise might be that you both write a love letter to each other to open on the morning of the wedding or when you are getting ready and you keep your personal vows during the ceremony short and sweet.
My final point is my all-time favourite personal vows – those that are kept secret from each other until the big day…. They are my secret squirrel vows. Your wedding day in most instances is an emotional roller coaster of a day and there is so much lead up with planning and prepping and making sure everything is perfect, that sometimes… we forget to tell our partner how special they are and how much we love them – now this isn’t all couples, but it does happen. But what makes secret squirrel vows beautiful, for any couple, is that you and your partner have taken the time during the wedding prep, alone, to put pen to paper and create this beautiful vow to each other that when shared on the day – will bring so much more love and joy than knowing exactly what the other is going to say.
And in closing, if you get stuck or know what you want to say but not sure how to say it – talk to your celebrant! We love this! Vows are one of my most treasured memories during the ceremony. It is also important to get your Brisbane wedding photographer to talk with your Celebrant before the wedding so they can come up with a plan on how to conduct themselves.
I hope I’ve give you some insight and some inspiration – feel free to contact me for a chat or for some advice – I’m always happy to help Cheers Kerri Watkins Celebrant