Wedding Celebrants - MORE THAN WORDS

Wedding Celebrants – MORE THAN WORDS

Writing your own wedding vows can add a very intimate and personal touch to your ceremony, however, not everyone possesses the literary genius of William Shakespeare. Here, Emily Williamson explores the increasing trend of couples writing their own vows, and tips to help you put your thoughts and feelings into words.

The wedding day is fast approaching, and you’ve been wracking your brain for months about the perfect way to write your vows. You’re trying to avoid clichés and you’ve even tried to make it rhyme, but still every time you put pen to paper your mind can’t seem to put into words what you want to express. Here, Melbourne Wedding & Bride speaks with Civil Marriage Celebrant, Felicity Fritsch, about how to write the perfect vows.

Each religious faith has its own traditional vows that have been passed down from generation to generation. From the basic Protestant vows of “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part,” to Muslim vows, Jewish vows, and Hindu vows – each has its own significance in the ceremony.

Vows serve the purpose of expressing an intent and promise to love and be committed to each other until one passes away. They also convey how a couple intends to relate to one another, as well as how you plan to steer through life, and what the union of marriage means to you both. For example, you may choose to express the importance of friendship as the basis for your marriage, or to hold each other in the highest regard. As a couple you are able to personalise your vows to ensure that they can express what is important and relevant to you.

There is no doubt in your mind that the person you are about to marry is the love of your life, but sometimes, expressing your feelings in an eloquent way in front of all your family and friends can be very difficult. Felicity Fritsch has been a Wedding Celebrant since 2010 and has conducted many ceremonies over the last six years. While she acknowledges it is not an option that suits everyone, she believes it can be especially powerful when couples choose to write their own vows.

“Of all the couples I had the privilege of marrying in 2015, two-thirds of them wrote their own vows. It gives a couple the opportunity to really express themselves how they want to, and it puts a very personal touch on the ceremony, as well as allowing room for creativity if desired. It can be an incredibly beautiful, intimate and powerful part of the ceremony.”

“I like to provide my couples with some initial ideas and suggestions as a starting point. They can then use these as inspiration and look over them to get a feel for the style of writing often used, or they can help when considering the phrases that are typically said to each other. Of course, in this day and age the Internet also provides a wealth of ideas and these can be very helpful too!”

If you and your partner have chosen to write your own vows, Fritsch has some helpful advice about what to include and avoid.

“Try to think about what it is you want to commit to or promise to one another. Ensure your vows really reflect who you are as a couple and that they are personally meaningful and express some emotion. You should really believe in what you are saying to each other!

“Also, according to the Marriage Act 1961, there is one sentence that must be said as the minimum vows in order for a marriage to be deemed valid in Australia. These words must be exchanged by the couple, to ensure they fully understand the nature of the relationship they are entering into.

“Where a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised wedding celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other, in the presence of the authorised celebrant and the witnesses, the words: I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (full name) take thee C.D. (full name) to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband), or words to that effect.

“Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows, however, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act 1961.”

When you’re brainstorming ways to write your vows, Fritsch says the best thing you can do is keep it personal.

“Try not to choose something that isn’t personally meaningful to you. It is best not to make grand statements that you feel unsure about, so avoid settling on something that doesn’t seem right to be saying to your partner. Finally, make sure you give yourself enough time to create something that you will be truly happy with – you want to enjoy your special moment and create memories you will cherish forever!”

While the idea of writing your own vows can be daunting, it is important to remember not to put too much pressure on yourself. Just consider how you feel about your partner and write it down without trying to sound too elaborate. Keep it simple; ensure it still sounds like you, and that it is relevant to you and your relationship. And, if you are still struggling, just tell them that you will love them forever – simple and sweet.