Whether you've been to twenty or zero weddings in your lifetime, chances are you and everyone you know will be able to recite at least part of traditional wedding vows. "I take you to be my lawful wedded partner, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."
There it is, one little piece of contractual poetry couples recite to one another just before their first wedded kiss. Yes, we all know this one (or variations of this one), but do we all know where these phrases came from? While we here at I Do in a Day are lovers of innovation and modern thinking, we’re also crusaders for tradition, so let’s dissect this one a little…
The oldest source of wedding vows traces back to 16th century England, found in the Book of Common Prayer. Here we see the very traditional phrases “to love, cherish and worship” for the man, and “to love, cherish and obey” for the woman. This has since been changed to move with the times, and now it’s rare that we hear the term obey” included. In this early record, vows included much reference to religion, pledging to follow “God’s holy ordinance” and abide by “God’s holy law”.
Today, some (but not all) couples enjoy the option of writing their own vows. Very different to writing your reception speech, where you address your entire celebration party, this speech is meant specifically for your one and only. It’s a brief moment during which you can publicly pledge your devotion to your true love in front of all who matter most to the both of you. While that’s all very sweet and heartfelt, translating your emotions and intentions into words is often easier said than done. If you’re really struggling with this part of your wedding planning, here’s a few tips to help…
Start with a structure: When we wrote essays, speeches and debates in school, we were taught to use writing structures. You’ll be amazed at how less daunting the whole activity will feel if you create one for your wedding vows. For example, begin with a little anecdote about how your relationship came to be. Follow with a few things you absolutely adore about your partner. Finish by making promises about your married lives together.
Brainstorm: Get your memories down on paper! Truly, it helps. Look through your favorite photos with each other, write down your best memories, your funniest adventures together. Pick out one or two of defining moments to base your vows on, like the first time you met or the first time you realized you were meant to be.
Keep it simple: True love translates into words best when those words are simple and few. We certainly celebrate some of the more long-winded of sonnets in history. However, the honesty and sincerity of your love will ring strongest through a few simple words of your own. Speak from the heart and it will show.
And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to practice! We hope these little points help those of you writing your own wedding vows. If you’re still struggling to say what you want to, contact your I Do in a Day planner for more help. They’re a little bit wonderful in this department!