Here are five alternative ways to exchange vows, all of them based on real weddings and vow renewals I’ve officiated. All bases on maintaining true authenticity of the couple. Some of them as solutions to genuine fears and worries that would have otherwise spoilt the experience for them.
Everyone knows about traditional vows. Do you take? Do you Promise? I do.
Everyone knows about the repeat after me type too “I Berni , take you John to be…”
But there are other ways to do this and other options to do something else completely, whilst still keeping the solemnity of the occasion but creating something that is both bespoke and authentic to you as a couple and play to your strengths and talents; whilst also removing or at least minimising your nerves and worries. I mean, what is the point of being so stressed at the idea of standing up in front of a crowd and speaking out loud, if its going to spoil your day with worrying about it; or worse, prevent you from getting married to the person you love?
Here are a few examples based on real couples and their real ceremonies and the celebrations we have created together so the vows part works for them and fits with the personalities and mood of the occasion
Doing it Together
Lots of people have a genuine fear of public speaking. I know lots of people who find the thought of public speaking terrifying, (I used to be one! I even avoided training and self development for fear of that round table bit where you had to introduce yourself!!!). Even repeating lines may feel too much. Some people have even thought about not getting married because of being centre of attention or having to talk. I say STOP. If you don’t want to talk don’t. You can use ” I Do’s ” for the minimum spoken words, but if that still seems too much how about simply saying “We Do” in unison to each other?
Stand facing, each other, hold hands, look into each others eyes. Let the celebrant do the talking and then just whisper, or mouth the words to each other. We don’t even have to be able to hear you , as long as you understand each other!
Getting your celebrant or your best men and women involved
When Kaye and Dave got married in their intimate riverside ceremony, they didn’t want to speak at all. We had some “I Do’s” but they wanted free text vows, or, more romantically, letter to each other. They didn’t want to read them. In this instance they asked me to read on their behalf, but you could ask your best man/woman to do it.
Keep them to Yourselves
Or you could hand over a sealed envelope to each other and take a moment whilst you each read them quietly to yourselves. No-one else needs to know
Can’t find the right words. That’s where our great poets and writers come in. Find a poem that ‘speaks to you” and read it (or have it read) instead of the vows. Bethan and Daffydd did this with this poem, Most Like An Arch, sharing the reading
Most like an arch…an entrance which upholds
And shores the stone crush up in the air like lace
Mass made idea, and idea help in place
A lock in time. Inside half-heaven unfolds.
Most like an arch…two weaknesses that lean
Into a strength. Two fallings become firm.
Two joined abeyances become term
Naming the fact that teaches fact to mean
Not quite that? Not much less. World as it is,
What’s strong and separate falters. All I do
At piling stone on stone apart from you
Is roofless around nothing. Till we kiss.
I am no more than upright and unset.
It is by falling in and in we make
The all-bearing point, for one another’s sake,
In faultless failing, raised by our own weight
Say it in a song
Last week I officiated the most emotional of vow renewals and celebrations of love and gratitude. The husband (Darren) expressed his vows with a song he wrote himself and performed to his wife (Cat). It was a real tear jerker. Listen here