Now, I'm going to talk about something that not a lot of people love: writing your own ceremony and vows. Neither Andrew nor I grew up going to a specific church. We didn't have a pastor who we wanted to marry us, so we had to find someone on our own. And as for vows, I didn't want to be his lawfully wedded wife. I wanted a wedding as a whole and especially a ceremony that was uniquely us, and what better way to be "us" than to create everything on my own?
I went to the internet to find an officiant and ended up using weddingpastor.com. (In researching to write this post, I learned that the lovely man who married us has since passed away. He told me that our ceremony was one of the most memorable he had ever performed and sent us a note wishing us well after the wedding. So sad!). There are many bios online and you can choose an officiant who is a good fit for you, but we weren't picky. I made it clear from the beginning that I intended on creating something on my own, so I just needed someone who was okay with straying from the norm. We met our officiant one evening at a restaurant so we could get to know each other and mostly corresponded via email. It was a perfect set-up.
Once I said I wanted to write a ceremony, I had to actually do it. I used some of the sample ceremonies on weddingpastor.com as my bones and wanted to personalize it more. I was really into reading weddingbee.com at the time and took a lot of inspiration from a wedding there. I would love to link to it, but I can't remember it! I think I also Googled a lot to find more readings. (I keep saying "I"; Andrew had absolute approval and veto of the ceremony, but compiling it was something I figured out mostly alone.)
All photos from Lindsay Elizabeth Photography
Here are the parts I saw I needed:
A Call to Celebration: Something saying our names and welcoming our guests.
Address: It acknowledged the step we were about to take and the importance of marriage. I wanted a reading in here that showed that. It also included a prayer.
Consecration: Literally means "to associate with the sacred."I wanted it to define what our marriage was going to be.
Declaration of Intent: This was a general statement about what we were going to do followed by the vows we had written. It basically said "We're DOING this!"
Vow and Ring Exchange: I kept this in there because we had to exchange rings but it wasn't my favorite part. I kept these vows simple.
Symbolic Thing: This is where you do a unity candle, sand ceremony, etc. Some people omit that entirely. We chose a wine and love letter box, described in the ceremony text, and followed it with another reading.
Pronouncement: I fell in love with this part and I wish I could credit it to whoever wrote it. It's a longer way of saying that we were officially married.
Since it is kind of long, I have linked to our wedding ceremony text as a Google Doc. The officiant changed it very little and a few of my notes are still in there. You can find it here.
I took time alone before the ceremony to try to remember my vows... it didn't work. I ended up reading them!
Writing vows was in a way, harder. In my head, they had to be a perfect declaration of my love and that was a lot of pressure! I came up with a basic formula so that Andrew and I both had a place to start and our vows would somewhat mirror one another.
Here's the general outline:
I love you because... (3x)
Something about plans for our new married life
Will you be my?
(Vows inspired by this wedding)
And here are my vows to him:
Andrew, you know better than anyone how stubborn I am. Whenever I get an idea in my head for something I have to have, you always say that we are going to go look for a unicorn. You think I get ideas for things in my head that don't really exist. You know that I won't rest until I find exactly what I'm looking for. You think that these things that I want, like mid-calf black suede ankle boots with buckles or the color of teal we chose for this wedding, will be impossible to find. But usually, I am right. I search any place I can think of until I find what I am looking for, or find my unicorn, as you put it.
Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to get married. I wanted someone who would be there for me through everything, someone to be my best friend, a person I could laugh with at the end of every day. I didn't know what I wanted this man to look like, or when I would meet him, but I knew I would find him one day. Like most of the things I go in search of, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted. Mostly, I always know that I have found what I was looking for when I see it. When you came along, you were it. You are the person I have been looking for and the person I want standing next to me for the rest of my life. You are my unicorn.
I love you all the time, even when you annoy me past the point of frustration. I love the way you look at me when you know I am frustrated and I can't help but laugh at how silly we both are. I love the way you can make me laugh and the way you always tell it like it is.
I love the little things you do for me, like warming up the plates at dinner before putting food on them or driving me to get frozen custard in a torrential downpour. These things may sound trivial, but to me it shows how much my comfort and happiness mean to you.
I love the home we already share with all of our inside jokes, song parodies, and television obsessions. I love that you are probably the only man in America who has watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, just because I told you it was a good show.
I promise to love you like Penny loved Desmond, like Amy loved Ephraim, and of course, like Pam loves Jim. Only I promise that our love will be more enduring than the shows all of these TV characters are on.
I want to continue to fill our home with more memories. I want us to grow together and have fun together and go through all of life's challenges together. I may not be the perfect wife. Cooking and cleaning are definitely not my strong suits. But, in the ways that matter, I promise to be the best wife I can be. I will love you, even when it gets difficult. I will be strong when you can't. I promise to always be on your side. I will be your partner. I want you to be beside me for the rest of our lives.
And his to me:
I love that you can make me laugh at anything that happens in life. We spend more time laughing than any two people I've ever known. I think that's a pretty good way to live.
I love that we both get excited over the smallest things like fixing a sink, and how we race each other to the front door to get a package from UPS, and how you make me close my eyes and act like a kid on Christmas because you brought me home a cookie.
I love how we can communicate with each other using nothing but quotes from The Office. That's a rare skill I once thought only my sister and I possessed.
I promise to continue to be the person you fell in love with and continue to appreciate the person you are. I promise to work with you towards filling our home with the same laughter and love that has gotten us to this point. I promise to do my best to keep that smile on your face, and to stay strong for you in the moments when it seems impossible to smile.
So, there it is! It was totally worth it in my opinion and if you aren't a fan of traditional language, I completely recommend writing your own ceremony or vows! If you're still reading this, you must really like weddings. Did you or do you plan to write your own vows? Can you believe we both referenced The Office? Clearly we are meant to be!