Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vows ... The Key Moment in Every Wedding Ceremony

Intimate Loving Couple This element is the verbal exchange between the couple that expresses the sincere promises they are making to each other regarding their intention for the marriage. Perhaps a visit to a dictionary definition of the word vow allows for a start: "a solemn promise or assertion ... by which a person is bound to an act, service or condition." On the basis of this definition alone, the decision to write your own vows or adapt traditional vows makes perfect sense.  After all, if you're binding yourself for life, shouldn't you have a say in what it is that you're binding yourself to?

Think about it!

Not so long ago, wives were bound to obey their husbands. For hundreds of years no one gave that "obey" clause a second thought. It's only in recent times that people have begun to blaze their own trails.  When it comes to vow exchanges now, there is indeed flexibility. Mixing and matching traditional vows, incorporating lines of poetry, or writing completely original material are all acceptable, at least in the weddings we perform. However, the solemn nature of the vows has not changed. You are still making a pledge before all, so keep this question in mind: "What exactly are you promising your betrothed?"

Vows seem to create the most apprehension for many couples

In well over half of our weddings, a couple will decide to allow us to review and write vows for their review, after receiving their in depth questionnaires, which are used for the process of discovery as to their hopes and dreams and other matters of the heart.  Through their openness in answering questions about their relationship and how it evolved for a lifetime partnership, each individual is forced to write down those pertinent aspects of their growth together, and therefore the exploration touches on the uniqueness of their journey and the qualities which convinced each of them to make this public commitment for all to share.

The Questionnaires are not a test; they are a tool for knowing each couple intimately

hearts-icon.jpg This exploration in writing has proven to be the answer for personalization of text for all elements of the ceremony. It is also a marvelous stimulus for capturing and highlighting thoughts for personalizing vows, and/or at least providing the minister with insights for originating a couple's vows. The words spoken by the couple as promises or vows may be memorized, read from a card, or recited after the Minister.

Our approach for a Couple who originates and delivers their Vows has proven helpful

Couples must discuss the comfort level of each partner, especially when it comes to writing and delivering the vows in front of a gathering.  Some partners simply are very uncomfortable personally speaking in front of an audience at a time of high emotion. However, when the couple has concluded this direction, and wish to withhold sharing of the text with each other until the actual ceremony, then each partner e-mails the minister a copy of the script in advance. The Minister will review each script for balance for timing and tone, and relate back some suggestions which might enhance one or both deliveries.  This necessity for feedback has only occurred when a Bride had an abundance to relate, and the Groom's words were much too short. In addition, when a couple submits their vows early enough, the minister has time to tailor his or her address so as not to repeat the couple's thoughts for each other. After all, the vows should be given priority and never over-shadowed or repeated in other elements. Just ideas to consider.

Let your imagination be your guide

Whether customizing your own vows for personal delivery, or making a list for reciting after the Minister, develop vows that are meaningful to both you and your partner, that say something unique about your love, and that exemplify the way you envision your future together. Although your guests will be there to hear you speak your vows, this part of the ceremony is strictly between you and your intended. Listen to your heart ... the words will follow.

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

P.S.  There are three books which we frequently access for reference for wedding elements.  We recommend:
  • "The Everything Wedding Vows Book," 3rd Edition by Don Lipper and Elizabeth Sagehorn
  • "Sacred Ceremony" by Dayna Reid
  • "Alternative Weddings," by Jane Ross-MacDonald
Some of the thoughts in this article on vows came from these sources.