For better or for worse (see what I did there?!), here we are at the center of the ceremony! At the very heart of this grand affair are the wedding vows. And wedding vows are far more than a few sweet and pretty words spoken before the party begins.
So, then, what is a wedding? Why marriage? Why vows?
Marriage is a binding. It’s stating there is something far greater at work than just the couple and their love. It is boldly declaring that the love discovered in each other is something deeper than infatuation — it’s something alive and growing. In that sense, you might even say a wedding births a marriage! The wedding ceremony itself should point to this discovery, and to the commitment of couple to continue to birth, nurture, and tend to the relationship in all its twists, turns, ups and downs. It’s truly binding two people together to tend to this third intangible “us” being created.
So, vows? Vows are the marriage contract; the covenant; the mutual agreement. Embedded in vows are the promises a couple makes around what marriage is and what marriage means. Vows are promises to tend to themselves (I), the other person (you), and (mostly) to the space between them that is their marriage (us). In fact, the kiss at the end of the wedding is a reminder of the gravity of this agreement. The kiss is not a mere throw-away moment for the sake of romance or a good picture. In ancient times all contracts were sealed with the exchange of breath and life. In keeping the kiss in the marriage ceremony, we acknowledge this unique sort of contract or covenant, and agree to it – with our very breath.
Often, our couples come to us wanting to personalize vows, and many end up doing just that. Our job is to help guide that process by unpacking vows, and asking important questions about the relationship: What will your marriage contract cover? What is important? What is unspoken? What should be left out?
For example, the traditional vows I’ve jokingly referenced at the beginning of this blog go something like this: “I, [insert name], take you to be my wedded spouse. And I promise before these witnesses to stick with you for better or worse/richer or poorer/sick or healthy/for life.” These classic promises are excellent vows – they’ve certainly withstood the test of time. And the timeless, enduring nature of these vows bind couples not just to each other but to a community of married couples across time and space. That’s pretty cool.
A more unique, personalized, and fun take on vows (and still a favorite of ours) was a couple who customized their vows by capturing their delightful, humorous, and artistic personalities. She lives in the fashion world, and he is an artist. She promised to listen to his music and not max out her Nordstrom credit card. He promised to admire her purchases, and not play his instruments until the wee hours of the morning. Together, each vow set ended by clearly stating they promised to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever for who they are and who they will become. It was truly beautiful – both in its unique and universal statement.
How would you write your vows? Will they match? Will you see each other’s promises beforehand? What interesting vow ideas do you have? We’d love to hear about them, as we think they are not just the core of marriage, but the heartbeat of intimate relationships!
Next Week? Rings, beautiful rings.
Sarah has been crafting custom weddings for couples of all kinds since 1999. Sarah is a Ravenclaw, and loves historical fiction, hot tea, and cycling of all sorts. She is an ordained minister who believes in coloring outside the lines. Sarah has been married to her best friend, Joe, since 1994. Together, their greatest treasures are their two children.