Those months leading up to our wedding are marked in my memory as the most emotional time I’ve ever experienced. Exhaustion. Panic. Joy. Repeat. I remember the exhaustion I felt under the sheer weight of my to-do list: of a litany of calls to be made, of thank-you notes to be written, of insignificant but agonizing decisions to be made (Garden roses or peonies? Taffeta or silk chiffon? Aqua or pink invitations?). I remember the waves of panic that would crash over me as I considered my flaws, our relative youth, and the gravity of the commitment we were making. And I remember the relief and the happiness I’d felt when Wade’s goodness and God’s promises would hit me all over again. Exhaustion, panic, joy, repeat.
Much like our seven months of engagement, our wedding day was pure chaos (for me). I overslept. I battled my hair from the moment I woke up until the day’s end. Our schedule was packed. I was so on edge before we left the bridal suite that I ordered a bridesmaid not make her prayer too sweet or personal, because I was certain I was about to start (ugly-)crying.
By the time I reached the end of the aisle, my emotions had cycled back through to perfect joy. My heart felt quiet and still and happy as we stood at the altar and sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and repeated after the minister our promises to one another. I held Wade’s hands during the entire ceremony, except when I needed them to swat away the ubiquitous South Georgia gnats.
And looking back at those moments, I am glad that I did not write my own vows.
Here are the vows Wade and I used in our wedding ceremony:
“I, [name], take you, [name], to be my lawfully wedded [husband/wife], to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part.”
Why, you may wonder, on this deeply emotional and personal day, did I want to use someone else’s words? I’m sure part of it has to do with my snobby tendency to equate “traditional” with “classy.” But there’s more to it than that.
As Claudio says to Hero in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, “Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy if I could say how much.” Strong feelings had held and driven me for the previous seven months and on my wedding day, in particular. It’s because of those feelings that I—who have always been fiercely committed to speaking for myself—wanted to rely on the wisdom of those who came before me. I chose to lean on the phrases that have been repeated by so many and make my new husband, Wade, a series of promises—no more and no less than the traditional promises.
No less, you will easily understand. But no more? I think it’s possible for our personally-penned vows to over- or under-promise. And what if you want to write your own? Check back for “Wedding Vows, Part 2: If you must write your own, advice from C.S. Lewis and three comedies.”
Credit for the gorgeous wedding photos goes to Anna's friends at: K and R Photography.