It’s Not About the Vows – Chapter 10 of It’s Not About the Wedding

Ok, so it actually kind of is about the vows.  More accurately, it’s not about which specific vows you choose to make.  It’s about keeping them.

Outside of a wedding ceremony, the word “vow” is rarely used in modern times.  Unless you’ve decided to join a monastery or a convent, you probably won’t come across it too often.  So, what is a vow?  A vow, simply put, is a promise.

Now, at some point in our lives, most of us have made and broken a promise of one kind or another.  Even as children, we make promises with fingers crossed behind our backs.  As teens, we may fall in and out of love, giving or receiving a broken heart in the process.  Yes, even adults break promises.  However, the promise you make in a wedding is intended to be a little more difficult to break.  Breaking a promise that was made privately, between two people, is one thing.  Breaking a promise that was made before a room filled with 300 of your closest family and friends, as well as God, is something altogether different.

Wedding vows come in many shapes and sizes.  For many, there is a fairly standard, traditional set of vows that does the trick just fine.  They usually look something like this:

Just don't call it a "cheat sheet"!

“I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

While many agree with the basic sentiment of these traditional values, they may feel the need to give them a more contemporary interpretation along these lines:

“I love you. You are my best friend.
Today I give myself to you in marriage.
I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you,
and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.
I promise to love you in good times and in bad,
when life seems easy and when it seems hard,
when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.
I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard.
These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.”

Of course, some couples decide to compose their own unique vows to express their love and dedication to each other.  I would certainly encourage this for the most part, as each couple is completely unique in their love for each other and how they express it.

However, I must also caution you to not get too caught up in this detail.  An example of what can happen is played out in the 2007 movie, License to Wed, in which the bride and groom-to-be are given the assignment of writing their vows by the reverend who is to marry them (played by Robin Williams).  As the wedding draws near, the bride, Sadie (Mandy Moore), has been finished writing her vows for quite some time.  She is less than impressed when she discovers that the book in which the groom, Ben (John Krasinski), is supposed to have been writing his vows contains nothing more than a series of flip book cartoon drawings.  The point is that this option is not for everyone.  Make sure you both want to write your vows before the decision is made.  It wouldn’t be the end of the world if one of you used traditional vows and one used original vows, would it?

One more thing:  In this day and age where so many marriages end in divorce, some couples have decided to remove “until death do us part” from their vows.  Many people who have been through a divorce feel particularly guilty about having promised to be with this person until one of them dies.  Instead, they are inserting ambiguous phrases like “for as long as our love shall last” or “until our time together is over.”  While I understand their point of view, especially having been divorced myself, I do not agree with it.  If you are entering into a marriage with any doubt about how long the marriage will last, then you are not ready to be married.  A marriage built on such indecision and half-hearted commitment is doomed to fail before it even begins.  Time and circumstances may weather and eventually break down such a promise, but on this day, in this place, for this reason, as you hold the hands of the one you love and look into his or her eyes, if you don’t believe with all your heart that you will be with this person for life, then don’t say, “I do.”  Postpone the wedding and figure out why you don’t feel that way, and if you ever will.  You owe it to the person next to you to give your whole heart completely or not at all.

In her 2009 song, “The Way I Am”, Ingrid Michaelson sang, “I love you more than I could ever promise.”  No matter what vows you speak on your wedding day, that sentiment is something to aspire to.  Real love, dedication, and commitment are actually quite difficult to put into words.  Words are important, but they are limited by the very fact that they are only words.  Living out your vows is the only way to truly prove your love.

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~ by suitenectar on September 13, 2010.

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