Writing your own marriage vows

BEFORE we begin, let me ask you a question.

What is the most important part of your wedding?

The dress? Not really.

The venue? No.

The entertainment? Think again.

The ceremony? Now you're close.

It is the vows. That special moment when you look into each other's eyes and make promises to each other that you hope to keep.

You are taking someone as your husband or wife with the intention that the partnership will be for life.

For me, as a marriage celebrant, that moment when the couple exchanges vows is always an emotional one.

So should you write your own vows?

Rather than say the more traditional vows of love, maybe you really want your vows to be a bit more personal.

Don't worry. Help is at hand.

Apart from the legal vows that are required, couples can choose to add their own personalised vows which reflect their relationship and inject some of their personality into the marriage ceremony.

And why not?

Writing your own vows is a way to make your ceremony unique and an opportunity to express special thoughts to each other.

In Australia, the minimum vows required to be said as defined by the Marriage Act 1961 are as follows:

"I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (full name), take you (full name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband.”

Couples may however choose to continue the marriage vows by adding their own special promises to each other.

So how do you do that?

Think of what's really important to you in your relationship.

One central idea for your vows might be that you will now be growing together and facing the challenges of life together in the future.

However, you will still be respecting each other and everything that makes each of you unique.

You may wish to emphasise such thoughts as your underlying friendship, the importance of trust and fidelity, your commitment to each other, or more light-hearted subjects that reflect what is important to you both.

You may like to include some humorous vows.

Since you will be exchanging your vows in the presence of your family and friends, be mindful that others will be witnessing what you say to each other.

Keeping your vows to what is most important to you will have more impact than a long list of vows that might become tedious for your guests.

As long as your vows are sincere, your guests will be moved by these special words spoken to each other.

You may choose to say the same vows or the bride's vows may be different from the groom's.

You may even want to keep them secret from each other till the day.

Here are some ideas:

● To face together whatever comes along in life's journey, the good times and the challenging ones.

● To love, support, honour and respect each other.

● To respect each other's uniqueness and individuality.

● To be thoughtful, understanding, accepting and forgiving of each other.

● To always be supportive, comforting and a loyal and true friend.

● To work together to create a loving and enduring partnership.

Have fun. Don't make the writing of your vows a chore and select those things that really stand out as important to you both.

Discuss your ideas with your marriage celebrant who is a professional and can offer guidance and advice on your ideas.

You'll soon have the makings of your unique and personal vows that you and your guests will always remember as a true reflection of the special people you are.