To love, honor, and promise to clean the toilet every Saturday. Okay, it's doubtful any bride or groom would choose that oath to whisper lovingly in front of a crowd of their nearest and dearest. However more and more, couples are opting to write personalized vows rather than go the traditional route. Here, a few brides open up about how they came up with their "I do's."
The Couple Who Was United in Writer's Block
*Jane, who married last November, recalls, *Dan and I always knew we'd write our own vows." Both novelists, they were determined for their marital oaths to be unique and creative to illustrate the respect for the power of the written word.
But the importance of the undertaking brought on another trait common to writers: procrastination. Jane says, "As the wedding date neared we became basket cases. Not over guest lists, seating plans, photographer, catering. We're very compatible so all those decisions were easy." The opposite of easy—what to pen for the heretofore most important writing project of their lives!
Like many creatives, they worked best on deadline. "I literally finished my vows morning of the wedding. While my makeup was being done I dictated into my iPhone!" Jane remembers. The groom composed his final draft during an early morning run. The couple has photographic memories, so remembering the precious, heartfelt words at the altar wasn't a problem. In the end, it went perfectly and they are now penning 'Happily Ever After'.
The Couple Who Wrote Vows on Instant Messenger
*Stacy and *Jim decided to write personal vows two months before their January, 2012 wedding. Stacy recalls, "We had already researched and picked out readings."
To ensure a back and forth conversational tone to the vows, Stacy and Jim decided to compose them together, but separately. Stacy recalls, "We were in different rooms in our apartment, exchanging IMs. We typed whatever we were thinking, without judgment, each playing off the other's statement: 'I will respect your opinions.' 'I will support your dreams.' What resulted was personal and funny and specific to us and most importantly, very meaningful." While they kept revising until two days before the nuptials, much of that initial spontaneous outpouring remained in the final version. Stacy says, "Luckily there was a fair bit of humor, which made it possible to get through without sobbing."
The Couple Who Used Note Cards
Joan says, "We wrote our vows in 1985," adding, "It felt right to add a personal touch." The couple didn't share the vows beforehand but surprised each other with their declarations of love. Her: "I love you completely. I will share everything from my deepest pains to my full joys." Him: "I could be the richest man in the world. But without you I would be in poverty."
During the ceremony, Joan had a note hidden behind her bouquet so she wouldn't forget everything, while Steve pulled his vows out of his sleeve. "But we mostly looked at each other, so we said what we remembered, probably not everything! We both had tears in our eyes when we heard each other's words."
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.