Crafting our ceremony: our vows

8 November 2012

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to recite both traditional and personal vows. John did not. He was EXTREMELY concerned that if forced to read personal vows out loud, he would dissolve into a soggy mess. Over time, he warmed to the idea, and I’m happy to report that we both made it through with only a few twinges of outward emotion. (Our guests, though, were another story — lots of sniffles.)

Once we had come to an agreement on the vows we would recite, we needed to craft them! We decided to set up some parameters so that they wouldn’t end up wildly different in tone — they would each be about a minute long, and they would generally take the form of promises. From there, we pretty much left each other alone to write.

Photo by Tanja Lippert. Spoiler alert: We had a beautiful day :)

I started jotting down lines, phrases, and ideas in a Google Doc about a year ago, either as things popped into my mind, or when I read a line in another couples’ vows that struck me. (I tend to get my best ideas while going to sleep at night, so I keep a notebook on my bedside table, and it came in handy for brainstorming!) I was also very inspired by some of the beautiful vows I’ve been lucky enough to witness, including those of my friends Amanda and Katharine, and this emotional Inkspot video! What brought things full circle, though, was a weekend afternoon a few weeks before our wedding day, when John and I sat down with a box of old letters we had written to each other. We were actually looking for reading inspiration, but I ended up coming across a line I had written to John that was a perfect opening to my vows. The rest fell into place from there.

I will say that one other thing that united us was our desire to only promise things that, with the grace of God, we could actually KEEP. We didn’t want to promise things like, “I’ll give you a foot massage every night,” or, “I will never be angry with you,” because we didn’t see these as just pretty words, we saw them as promises we were making to each other for the rest of our lives, with God as our witness.

So what did we promise each other? We’ve decided to not share the full text here because, unsurprisingly, our personal vows were very personal. However, when you see our highlights film from Inkspot Crow, you’ll hear about half of mine, and about a quarter of John’s :)

Our traditional vows, though, I don’t mind sharing! Of course, they’ll be pretty familiar to y’all, but we did make a few tweaks. We read our personal vows first (John went before I did), then our pastor lead us in the traditional vows and ring vows. These are the words we used:

I, Emily, take you, John, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, all the days of my life.


John, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you in the name of God.

If you’re married, or are planning a wedding, what did you or have you planned for your vows? I would love to hear!

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November 9, 2012 8:51 am

We had a fairly large amount of scripture read, and for a very important reason. I think a lot of people lose sight of the fact that this is a holy sacrament. this was my favorite reading – 12 ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ – Colossians 3: 12-14

November 9, 2012 2:12 pm

Ahhhh, I can’t wait to see the film! Have been stalking Inkspot every week sinc your wedding. Ha ha ha. I love the mixture of traditional and personal though. And Tim and Cate’s vows had me in tears every time I watch that film. Amaaaaazing!

November 9, 2012 2:39 pm

Nevermind, I just saw the link. Congrats again, and oh my goodness, what a beautiful wedding! Wishing you and John all the best for your future together : )

November 13, 2012 3:05 pm

I’m so far from my own wedding…but I love the idea of both traditional and personal like you did. I have a file that I’ve saved alot of my favorite quotes, readings and ideas in…just prepping for the future:)