While some girls dream of dresses and chair sashes from a young age, I had never really spent a great deal of time thinking about my wedding day. At the end of the day, a wedding is just a ceremonial get together where you make your intentions of commitment public. On the other hand, being married is something I have always wanted to do… under the right circumstances.
1 in 3 marriages currently end in divorce. Having been married just three months, and having grown up with happily married parents, I don’t consider myself qualified to comment on why so many end in divorce but in part, I can’t help but feel that marriages from generations past were based on a different set of values than we are free to base marriage on today. Without going into too much detail, I wasn’t looking for money or status just the opportunity to fulfil my own happiness. To me, marriage is a life-long commitment between two people to live their lives together as one life. While this may be a common theme, every marriage, just like every person, is completely unique and personal so why attempt to quantify it with a set of generic vows?
A few months before our wedding date, we wrote our own vows as well as the ceremony script. Having never written any wedding vows before we did a bit of internet research, had a few good chats about the tone of the ceremony we wanted to achieve and went away to write. Separately. It was important to us that we read each others vows before the ceremony so that we had time to think and know exactly what we were going to promise each other before we had to promise it.
To tell the truth, Rich is excellent at putting his feelings into writing and has no problem expressing his feelings to anybody who wants to know. For me, being more reserved, the idea of declaring my undying love and private feelings for somebody to a group of people (even if they are close friends and family) is very embarrassing. I want them all to know, I want the world to know but I guess I’m more of an introvert in that way. I wanted to know exactly which words were going to be exchanged so I could appreciate and process them privately beforehand and therefore would be less likely to sob uncontrollably for the entire duration of the ceremony. This was also the intention with Rich’s groom speech but more about that in a later post…
The day of the wedding rolled around and when the moment came, I made a spur of the moment decision that I sort of regret. In a last minute bid to keep my emotions private, I read my vows. I read them in none other than my cheesy ‘stage voice’ normally reserved for presenting gigs and reading aloud in class… much to my nearly-husbands amusement. It wasn’t a conscious decision so much as an autonomous defence mechanism which allowed me to distance myself from what I was reading, basically, so I didn’t cry in front of everyone and embarrass myself. While I wish I had let myself be fully emotionally present in my own wedding ceremony and read from my heart, the truth is, that the words did come from my heart and to me, that’s just as important.
So here they are….
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I RICHARD JOHN STEELE take you NEA KATHRYN ENGLAND WARREN to be my lawful wedded wife. Nea, our paths are now one path. At each fork in the road the choice of direction is ours and not just mine or yours. This was an idea of which I was once terrified but, you have shown me the excitement and pleasure of becoming a team of two. I cannot wait to continue spending my life with you as we support and nurture each other and I truly believe that as a team, there is nothing we can’t achieve. I promise to always be there for you when you need me, to teach you where I can and to listen to you when you know best. (Dangerous vow, I know). I promise to be faithful and to love you unconditionally through all of the challenges life will undoubtedly throw at us, and I promise to keep doing this for the rest of our lives.
I give you this ring, not only because it looks cool and matches the other one, but as a symbol of our teamwork and my commitment to you. You’re my best friend, my mentor and my student and I am honoured to be standing here with you today, you have taught me so much about life since we met and I really look forward to seeing what the future holds for us. This ring means that whatever that future is, I freely commit to facing it together.”
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I NEA KATHRYN ENGLAND WARREN take you RICHARD JOHN STEELE to be my lawful wedded husband. Rich, you have been my sanctuary, my inspiration and my greatest challenge. With your unfaltering love and support, you have given me the confidence to be the best version of myself and I know that our love for each other is reflected in the way we live our lives. As I stand here today, I promise to always stand by your side; not just in mischief and adventure but also in the mundane. I vow to encourage and support you and ensure that we always live with contentment and curiosity. With no hesitation or doubt, I ask you to share your life with me – to face the great unknown together, as my equal, my best friend and my partner. I give you this ring as a symbol of the promises we have exchanged today and as a reminder that we will always face the world together, even when we are apart.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts about writing your own vows and your thought on traditional vows. Leave a comment below and tell me what you are thinking. : )