Tips on Creating Your Wedding Vows
As meaningful as the words are, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to vows.
Finding the WordsYour wedding, first and foremost, is about the two of you, so keep it emotionally vested by doing the following:
- Borrow wedding videos from other couples and, when viewing the exchange of vows, think about what you like best and least and what you can adapt for your own vows.
- Give the person who will conduct the ceremony a chance to get to know you both. Have a consultation to discuss the tone of the wedding, sharing how you met and what you love about each other. This personal information will help the officiant work with you to design the ceremony you want. If you don’t have an officiant in mind (such as the cleric at your house of worship), ask around, or go to the website of the National Association of Wedding Officiants (nawoonline.com) to find one in your area.
Once you both have an idea of the spiritual tone you want to strike, find the best person or people to perform it―a member of the clergy, a locally licensed secular humanist, a justice of the peace, or a judge. (Tip: Experience with weddings is a plus in an officiant, especially when it comes to recommending readings, music, and prayers.) And consider enacting a ritual―such as lighting a unity candle or sharing a glass of wine.
Alternatively, you can ask a trusted friend to perform the wedding. Fees, forms, and how-tos differ by state, but your county clerk’s office is a good place to start researching. Interested parties can become ordained online through the nondenominational Universal Life Church Monastery (themonastery.org) for free, or through Rose Ministries (openordination.org), which offers several packages, from $29 to $149. (Note: Not all states recognize these kinds of marriages, so research the laws in your area to make sure your union is legal.)
Though it is your day, you should give some thought to your guests, particularly your parents (especially if they’re footing the bill). Consider integrating them into the ceremony thus:
- Have the officiant ask a question or two (for example, “Will you celebrate with John and Jane, encourage them, and remind them as needed of this day?”), to which the assembly replies, “I will.”
- While it’s traditional to exchange vows with your backs to the assembly, choose to have the bride, the groom, and the wedding party facing front, with the officiant off to the side or with his or her back to the audience.
Next: Traditional Vows
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