When Joanna Mattaliano and Jack Hippchen first met their wedding officiant, one of the first things they discussed was what they wanted their marriage to look like. “He gave us options for pre-written vows or for us to write our own,” Mattaliano says. “We decided we wanted something a little more personal, something we could look back on and remember.”
Mattaliano and Hippchen are not alone.
While there is no way to count how many weddings include vows written by a couple, they are becoming more and more common, even in traditional religious ceremonies, as a way to personalize the day.
Hollie Woodruff, who is pastor of Seventh Street Christian Church and also hosts weddings beyond her religious affiliation, says at least 60% of couples who hire her want to include their own vows.
“A lot of it has to do with the traditions that couples come from,” she says. “If they’re Christians and have grown up in a more formal denomination, maybe they’re used to having these vows chosen for them. Many people today see themselves as spiritual but not religious. They still want a religious ceremony, but maybe they don’t feel as connected to what has been done [before]. “
Pop culture, Woodruff says, also plays a role.
“A couple’s only experience seeing a wedding can be from a movie,” she says, noting that it can be confusing. “The declaration of intent is when I do it. Often, to save time, this is omitted “in a TV show or movie. Her couples, she says, seek the full experience.
“There is a reason why they asked me … or an ordered person to [conduct the ceremony] rather than going to the clerk’s office, ”she said. “I always say to couples: Writing your own vows is neither good nor bad; there is no judgment.
Officiant Donnie Newton says his approach is to meet the couples where they are.
“I am a Christian and have a strong Christian faith, but I am in no way qualified to advise people to get married,” he says. “I do religious ceremonies, and I love doing it. Some people just want the basics.
When it comes to couples writing the vows themselves, Newton says his message is clear: “If [a couple] wants to write their wishes or words to say to each other, so all the better. It’s your ceremony, your wedding. As long as you answer these questions, which I feel obligated by law to have you answered, unless it’s ugly, you can say whatever you want.
Newton recalls working with a couple for two years before reaching the altar. “At first I thought, ‘This isn’t going to be fun,’ but this turned out to be one of the best weddings I’ve been to,” he says, adding that brides usually have their vows written down, while the grooms will speak more often without notes. “This is their time. I hope they will keep a memory of it.
“You can take this time and this moment to say out loud what your union will look like and what it will look like on a daily basis. [basis]. “—Hamilton Sage
Lucy Gordon Smith and Bryan Carter write their wedding vows, slated for July 2022 at Thatch Winery, south of Charlottesville.
“Bryan and I will be together for six years by the time we get married,” Smith said. “There is so much that we have done and will accomplish as a married couple that it is important to reflect that in what we say and what we promise to each other.”
Smith, a self-describing Type A planner, has already started putting together ideas and notes for what she will say. She expects Carter to not start in earnest until a month or so before the wedding, but they’ll work together ahead of time, she says.
“We’ll have to make sure that if one of us is funny, the other is too,” she said. “We will want to strike the same tone. “
Neither Mattaliano nor Hippchen heard the vows each had written for their wedding day until they were taken at the altar.
“We both wrote our own and didn’t share them, but when we read them to each other they were very similar,” Mattaliano says. “I [had been] worried, what if hers is really long and detailed and mine isn’t? But they matched perfectly.
Tone and language are important, says Julie Dotson, a local officiant, who provides her couples with a questionnaire to start the process.
“We have to make sure we are using the right words,” she said. “We sometimes find that we have to change words, because we know [marriage] is not perfect. Even saying ‘I love you with everything myself’ is not fair. There is no perfect beginning and no perfect ending. We have to recognize that things are going to get tough and we will find a way to get over it. “
Dotson says she encourages couples to use nicknames or animal names for each other in their vows, and she doesn’t make them repeat. “It’s not an act,” she said. “We want to make sure to use their legal names [in the ceremony], but at some point, if this is something the couple are used to, or how they know each other, they may be called by names of pets. It is a time when they can relax.
Hamilton Sage, who married Ingrid Alli in June 2017, said the inclusion of personal vows and poetry was a no-brainer for the couple, who perform together as Twin Soul Poets.
“I just sat down and felt the space in my heart,” he says. “It feels really intimate when you share this way, regardless of what others are going to think or [trying to] gives the impression of being a performance. You should feel like you’re talking directly to your partner.
Sage says couples should embrace the authority of the word. “You can take this time and this moment to say out loud what your union will look like and what it will look like on a daily basis. [basis]He says, adding that people often think negatively – about what they don’t want. “It’s important to focus on what you want, [because] focusing on the affirmative is powerful.
“I really insist that what you are making is an alliance that is almost impossible to keep,” she said. “What are you going to do to help extend those chances? It is a wish not only to the other person, but also to yourself.
What i like about you
Kristina Hamlett’s book helps couples find their words
Local author Kristina Hamlett was inspired to create “What I like about you: a guided journal to write your proposal and your wishes”After having attended successively the weddings of several friends.
“I found myself sitting on the church bench or in the courtyard, thinking, ‘I wish I could find out more about their history,’” she says. “The officiants’ words were kind, but there is something about hearing their story in their words that would have uplifted the experience in my mind, let us see the special and genuine feeling.”
Hamlett’s e-book allows couples to print individual pages, so that each can remember and reflect on their first meeting, their first romantic relationships, and when they knew the other was “the right one.”
“The origin story can inform vows,” she says, noting that wedding guests aren’t interested in awkward details, rambling stories or clichés.
“People may not remember everything you say, just a word or two,” she says. “But it’s almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be as big as you want, to profess your love as strong and passionately as you want. This is your chance to center your love and commitment in this moment.
Hamlett’s book, “What I Like About You: A Guided Journal for Writing Your Proposal and Your Wishes,” is available for $ 10 digital download on Etsy.