Cover image: Bec Essery Photographer - @bec_essery_photographer
As part of a legally-binding marriage ceremony, you and your partner are required to exchange marriage "vows". You know, the whole "for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health" spiel. In a civil marriage ceremony (civil meaning, not performed by a minister of religion), there are very few rules about what you have to say in your marriage vows, you have a lot of freedom and choice. Here is everything you need to know about writing your marriage vows:
First, you'll need to decide whether you want to deliver the legally-required vow only, or, write your own personalised vows. I think personalised vows are the bomb, but if you're not a public speaker, or you're opting for a really short and sweet ceremony, you might like to stick with the legal minimum.
This is the legal vow that you must deliver to one another, as required by the Commonwealth Marriage Act:
"I call upon the persons here present, to witness that I, (YOUR FULL LEGAL NAME), take thee,
(YOUR PARTNERS FULL LEGAL NAME), to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife"
If you're writing your own vows, you still need to include the legally-required sentence above!
You can say it at the beginning, at the very end, or, get clever and weave it into the middle.
Here is the list of rules for writing your own personalised vows:
1. Include: "I call upon the persons here present, to witness that I, (YOUR FULL LEGAL NAME), take thee, (YOUR PARTNERS FULL LEGAL NAME), to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife."
2. There are no other rules!
Honestly! I regularly get asked by couples "Are my vows ok? Are they correct?" 9 times out of 10, I will say "yes, they're absolutely perfect" (unless you're a horrendous speller, English isn't your first language, or you're being really mean, then I might suggest you make a few edits.)
The most important quality of personalised vows, is that they come from the heart. Even if you've never been good at expressing your feelings in words, your best attempt, will result in authentic vows. You don't need to be a poet or a scholar. Your words, are the perfect words.
If you're a bit stuck, here are a few tips for getting started:
Make some promises to your partner (vows traditionally mean "promises"), these can be serious, or funny!
Tell your partner what you love about them, compliment them, reflect on your journey so far. What challenges have you overcome? What are some highlights? Vows don't HAVE to be promises! They can be stories, jokes, poems, song lyrics... you can get creative and make your vows unique.
Do you have children or will you be a blended family? You may like to say a few words/make a few promises to your children during your vows. e.g. that you will love your step-child like your own.
What are you looking forward to in your future life together?
If you're really stuck for inspiration, have a quick Google!! If someone else describes your feelings better than you can, take direction from this (none of your guests will know!).
You can deliver pre-written vows that are traditional to your religion or culture (as long as the legal vow is in there!). You and your partner's vows can be exactly the same.
There are also no rules on how long your vows have to be. They can be one line, five lines, or a whole page! You and your partner might like to have a discussion on what length to aim for (just to avoid one of you stealing the spotlight longer than the other.)
It is always nice to end your vows, by saying "I LOVE YOU."
Below is a photo of Tracey and Vincent on their wedding day. Vincent blew the crowd away by delivering some of his vows in Mandarin, Tracey's native language. It was incredibly beautiful.