I Vow

By Chelle Cordero

April 17, 2009 5 min read

I VOW

Whether written by you or traditional, vows are personal

Chelle Cordero

Creators News Service

Whether humorous, tender, original or traditional, the vows a couple exchanges on their wedding day are meant to be a reflection of them and their dreams for a life together. The promises you make to one another, like your love, should come from your heart.

Walker and Tara Wilson wrote their own for their wedding ceremony in 2003 at the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas. "We wanted something that was more reflective of our personality and our relationship," she said. Among the promises Tara made to Walker, they included: "I, Tara, take you, Walker, to be my Sunday morning breakfast date, my rescuer from geckos and my best friend for our lifetime." Every year on their anniversary, Walker and Tara return to the Japanese Gardens and once again recite their vows to each other.

Rev. Natalie Kita, a non-denominational/interfaith wedding officiant with SoulMates Ceremonies in Delaware, has noticed an increase in couples wanting to write their vows, although some need help getting started with what they want to say.

Rev. Kita suggested that couples start by writing a "love letter" to each other, including the following four elements: 1) This is how feel about you; 2) This is why I love you so much; 3) These are my dreams for our future; 4) This is what I promise I will do to make those dreams come true. Using that love letter, they can then edit down to come up with the perfect vows to express what they want to say.

A wedding planner herself, Summer Hutchens-Colgin has witnessed many ceremonies with "some pretty amazing words of love and devotion throughout the years." When Summer and her husband Will got married in Houston, they wrote their own vows. "We had lots of conversations about our expectations of marriage and where we saw ourselves in the future that stemmed from our own words," she said.

Erika Jackson, a wedding consultant and planner for Texas-based Butterfly Parties, often deals with military weddings, which tend to be more traditional. "Being 'old school' is very popular when it comes to planning a military wedding. It is one time where brides want to honor old traditions and enjoy adding military touches to their special day," she said.

While traditional vows are most often used, there are other elements that lend a unique flavor to the special day, such as saber arches and the bride receiving a "swat to the behind" from the last swordsman as an official welcome into military life.

Jacqueline Dolan of Indianapolis is planning her wedding this coming October. For her, she finds comfort in tradition. "My fiancee and I did not want to write our own vows for several reasons. First, we're very traditional, and personally wanted to preserve the vows that have been said by man and wife for thousands of years. It is a very romantic notion for us, thinking of how many couples have stood in the same place, saying the same thing."

Andreas Goeldi and Bettina Hein got married in July 2003 in a chateau in Bagnols, France. Now residing in Massachusetts, Hein, an entrepreneur, cherishes the words her husband spoke to her years before: "I vow to be your companion on every road you travel. I promise never to stifle but rather to strengthen your entrepreneurial spirit."

In her business dealings, Hein has attended several wedding ceremonies and reminds couples to speak at a high enough volume so everyone witnessing the union can hear them. "If you want to preserve the most meaningful part of the wedding ceremony for posterity, speak them loudly," she added.

California playwright Arthur M. Jolly was recently asked to officiate at a non-religious ceremony where the couple wrote the entire ceremony.

"I believe the majority of couples marrying today edit out the commandment 'to obey' from the classical vows -- and by changing them, even slightly, they are altering the terms of their marriage to suit themselves," he said. "As marriage today is with someone that you choose, rather than an arrangement made by ones' parents, it is also a marriage under the terms that you choose. It only makes sense to write the vows that you are making to each other, rather than reciting a generic promise that may or may not approximate the commitment you feel."

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