Sunday, April 13, 2008

"I do!" A guide to humanist wedding vows, part one

My spinning instructor at the gym mentioned to me that she was thinking about having a humanist wedding but didn't like the thought of saying vows she had written herself. This is a subject that often comes up in the initial meeting I have with couples. As soon as I say, "And in a humanist ceremony you can write your own vows!" someone often looks completely terrified.

When I used to come home from school and was supposed to be doing my homework, I often watched Neighbours and whenever there was a wedding the vows were always absolutely cringeworthy!

BUT - it doesn't have to be this way. in fact, creating your own vows can be the best part of the process. A humanist wedding should reflect your personality, not mine or Charlene and Scott's (aka Kylie and Jason). If you are a 'call a spade a spade' kind of person, that is the way you should approach your wedding vows. Similarly, if you are very creative and poetic, you should reflect this in your wedding vows. Just because you are saying something in front of other people, doesn't mean you can't talk the way you normally do. Here's an example of a vow that I would ask a groom to repeat after me phrase by phrase:

"I Steven, take you Sheila to be my wife. I promise to be the best husband I can be. To be a good father to any children we may have in the future, to approach our future with an open mind, and to love and care for you for the rest of my life."

Or you can say very little. Instead of repeating the vow after me I can ask it as a question. For example:

"Sheila, do you promise to be the best partner you can be to Steven, to support him through happy and difficult times, to bring fun and laughter into his life and be true to him and yourself throughout your life together?"

"I do!" says Sheila.

I can also ask the question to both the bride and groom at the same time:

"Steven and Sheila, do you both promise to be loving and caring to one another through good times and bad, to encourage one another in your dreams and ambitions and to be faithful to each other throughout your life together?

Steven and Sheila: "We will."

I find that once I've explained this to most couples it really puts their mind at ease and they can start enjoying creating their vows.

This picture is of Nicole and Stephen saying their wedding vows. He had just promised to always try and bring laughter into her life. She immediately started laughing and that got us all going. I think he was off to a good start!

The next post will be A guide to humanist wedding vows, part two: what to promise!

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