The Heart of the Wedding Ceremony – The Vows

On occasion Bill and I officiate at a wedding ceremony together, each of us assuming different parts of the ceremony. At one of our weddings I began to introduce the guests to the “heart” of the ceremony, saying “In a moment the Bride and Groom will exchange their wedding vows. No other vows are more sacred or important!” Bill and I noticed the Maid of Honor slipping the Bride an iPhone. Ignoring this, I proceeded to ask the Groom if he had special words for his Bride. He said his vows eloquently. He looked into his Bride’s eyes and promised eternal love and devotion. As I began to pose the same question to the Bride, I saw her searching for her vows on her phone. Gradually, the guests began laughing and chattering. Once she found her vows, she began to read them, beautiful words of love and devotion.

Both of us stored this awkward moment for the Bride in the back of our minds. Now when we meet with couples, we always emphasize that we believe the vows are the heart of the wedding ceremony. They are truly special words the Bride and Groom say to each other, as they look lovingly into each other’s eyes, to express their feelings of love and faithfulness. This can be a very emotional moment and it is not unusual for tears to be shed by the Bride, Groom or guests.

Couples approach the “exchange of vows” in different ways. The Bride and the Groom may want to write and recite them from memory. Some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of memorizing their vows so they write the vows down on paper and read them to each other. The words can be the same, but most times they are different. I’ve seen vows scribbled on crinkled up paper or printed on 3” x 5” cards. What I suggest is to get two nice notecards (cards without wording), type the vows in an easy-to-read font, and paste the printed versions inside the cards. The Officiant or an attendant can hold the cards until needed. This works well, and is particularly nice for photos. When a Bride and Groom decide to write their own vows, Bill and I have a number of tips we are happy to share with them.

Most Brides and Grooms, particularly the Grooms, shy away from reciting their own vows. This is understandable in light of the excitement and stress of the wedding day. However, the vows can simply be questions made up of beautiful/traditional words that are posed to the Groom and then to the Bride, followed by their answers – “I do” or “I will.” The vows can consist of beautiful/traditional phrases that the Groom and then the Bride repeat after the Officiant. Bill and I discuss the vows and variations of the exchange of vows in detail when we meet with the couple.

The marriage vows are the heart of the Wedding ceremony. It is when the Bride and Groom exchange loving words as intangible gifts to each other. The wedding rings symbolize the sentiments express in the vows and the Wedding Kiss seals the vows.

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