Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Vows that Wow!

When it comes to vows, there are a couple options one can take:

Nontraditional: which most specifically falls into the category of:-self-authored vows, or quoted poems, writings or literature.


-Officiant directed (those directly from the officiant presiding over the ceremony)
-Denominational (religious) vows specific to the type of ceremony being held (Roman Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian etc.)

I don't like to think of them in terms of traditional and non-traditional, because in some way, all traditions start at one place in time or another.

I thought I'd give a little insight, as I'm doing a mixture of writing my own vows and adding a flair to the traditional vows:

If you choose to don the pen and scribe a heartfelt sonnet to your love, use this suggestion:
Think about the type of ceremony you are having, don't use really avant-garde material at a wedding filled with minors and clergyman. Then again, think twice about using avant garde material altogether.

Lisa Costantino, Amazon.com Wedding Expert offers the following tips:
Before you put pen to paper, discuss whether you'll compose as a couple, or if you'll write individual vows for reading to each other at the altar. Will you share your vows beforehand, or make your contribution a wedding-day surprise? Once you've decided, follow the guidelines below and you'll be surprised at how easy it is to gather your thoughts and feelings into a literary bouquet:

Check with your officiant. If you're marrying in a house of worship, make certain there's no issue with providing your own vows.
Familiarize yourself with existing vows. Have a copy of traditional vows handy, and do some research to see how others have put their feelings into words. Borrow, rework, or simply find inspiration.
Get it all on paper. Don't think you have to get it perfect the first time. All writers edit and rewrite. Let your feelings spill out in all their rough glory, then go back and polish.
Talk about what's most important. Be specific about what marriage means to you. Concepts to ponder: love, respect, honor, trust, tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, honesty, compassion, faith, sharing, friendship, happiness, and laughter.
Use your own voice. Good writing relies on honesty and directness. Avoid flowery or pretentious language, clich├ęs, and repetition.
Keep it simple--and short. A few minutes will do it. Any longer and you run the risk of rambling, defusing your impact, or losing your place.
Put it to the test. Once you have a decent draft, do a practice recital into a tape recorder. Play it back. How does it sound? You'll find passages that shine, others that your tongue may trip over. Polish until it reads smoothly.
Get feedback. Criticism is essential to all writers, and your close friends will be kind and helpful. This is also a good time to run your vows past your officiant, to ensure there's no conflict with your church's views.
When you have a final draft, transfer your words to note cards so they'll be easy to glance at during your recitation. Don't worry if you can't commit your vows to memory--big-day nerves have a way of messing with memorization. If you're subject to stage fright, ask your officiant to be ready to read your vows for you; you and your intended can repeat them to good effect. One last note: Give copies of your vows to the maid of honor and best man, to safeguard against losing your own in the pre-wedding hubbub.


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