If you’re a frequent wedding attendee, you may have noticed that couples are increasingly opting to write their own vows. A trend that rose to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s, when free-thinking, free-loving couples wanted to buck tradition, writing personalized vows has persisted in popularity for over fifty years. As a result, we’ve gotten to hear some of the most heartfelt, unique, long-winded, humorous wedding ceremonies in the history of public vow exchange.
Couples who write their own vows seem to value individuality–in their lives and in their wedding. They don’t want the ceremony to be indistinguishable from others, nor do they want it easily forgotten. Some eschew the traditional vows because they sound too grim or, in cases, where the officiant decides to keep “obey” in the “love, cherish, and obey” section, too patriarchal. Others still want their personal vows to reflect their priorities, which may significantly differ from the ones in traditional vows. If you’ve ever heard someone promise not to nag or promise never to burn dinner, you know how far-reaching and specific those priorities may be.
While writing one’s own vows can be a creative idea that gives us a greater sense of the two people joining their lives as we sit as witnesses, there’s still something to be said for traditional marriage vows. Their dependability, their cadence, the weight of the promises, and the ancient feel of the words lend themselves to a kind of gravity. “With this ring I thee wed.” “For richer or poorer.” “In sickness and in health.” “Till death do us part.” Even when people have a difficult time upholding them, the traditional vows are sobering. Sometimes, they even say, “This is my solemn vow,” indicating how seriously everyone should be taking things.
It’s probably rare that people struggle with the decision to write their own or recite the traditional vows. Personality types seem to clearly indicate which choice makes the most sense for which couple. But in a pitch, if you’re truly torn, there’s always the option of borrowing a bit from column A and column B. Add a few of the traditional vow lines to your personalized ones.
What do you think? Will you or did you write your own vows? Do you think the traditional vows are preferable? If so, why?