Thursday, February 3, 2011

Promises, Promises... Humanist Wedding Vows

I've noticed on my stats that most people visiting this blog are searching for Humanist wedding vows. I can completely understand this because when I meet couples the vows are often the bit they either feel very enthusiastic about or completely dread! I've already written a couple of posts — part 1 and part 2 — of how to construct your vows but that's only one way to approach them. I can't speak for all Humanist celebrants but here's my views on vows.

There is one rule: you must promise to accept one another to be husband and wife, after which the celebrant must declare you to be husband and wife which is the point you are actually married. I know! The power, eh? No, I can't go up to people and marry them in the street for a laugh. In the context of the ceremony however, it's me who says the magic words!

My main concern with the vows of the couples I marry is that they're sincere and the people saying them feel comfortable with them. I'm happy for my couples to use traditional vows: in sickness and in health, and so on. I completely draw the line at promising to 'obey' each other. That said, I've never met a couple who wanted this.

Interestingly, very few people bother to promise fidelity these days. Not, I imagine because most couples are secret swingers in their spare time but because it's pretty much a given and people don't feel the need to comment on the intricacies of their sex life in front of all their friends and family any more.

Some people like to add a bit of humour to their vows: "I promise to let you have the remote control every Tuesday", that kind of thing. It can break the ice and I'm all for vows that reflect your personalities if you are jovial sorts. When couples draw a balance between having both serious and funny vows this can work very well, as you want to demonstrate you're taking your promises seriously.

If you are the shy type you don't even have to say your personal vows but can simply answer questions with an 'I do'. I often tell nervous couples that all they have to do to be married is turn up and answer every question I ask them in the affirmative! Getting hitched really is that simple.

Once again, I can't speak for other celebrants on this but I am quite happy for couples to find vows from books, samples I give them or wherever they stumble across something they think they'd like to say. As long as you feel comfortable with what you're saying for your vows, truly mean them and can live up to them then they're the perfect vows for you!

Here's a couple of my favourite vows from a selection of samples I give all my couples:

1 I, Sophie, promise to love and cherish you, David, for the rest of your life.

I will try to bring laughter to your life and make you happy.

I will consider you in the decisions I have to make, and value your opinions.

Today I vow to be your wife for the rest of our lives.

1 Sophie, I join my life with yours today

Without hesitation and with an open and trusting heart.

Whatever we may encounter,

Let us encounter it together.

Take this ring and with it my commitment

To be the best Husband I can be.


Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that my partner & I have chosen to have a humanist ceremony which has been met with much negativity that its not a 'real' wedding by some members of the family. I have read your blog entries on how to construct our vows and I'm feeling very positive now that we will make them eat their words! Our wedding will hopefully be very special and I cannot wait to say my own words to my husband. Thanks for the good advice

Juliet Wilson said...


Many thanks for posting a comment and sharing your experience - and I'm so glad that some of my advice here has helped you look forward to your wedding. I've had the same experience with some couples I've married in that their family would prefer them to go with a more traditional or religious wedding. However on seeing the humanist ceremony and experiencing it, they've changed their minds and really did enjoy it. If you put a lot of thought into your ceremony (which you obviously are doing) then they will appreciate it as a very real wedding and it will be meaningful to them as well as you. Have a fantastic day when the time comes! Juliet x