It’s an absolute honour to welcome Sarah Tolmie to our team as a contributor. Sarah is a boutique and holistic celebrant, specialising in individually crafted ceremonies for life’s passages as well as relationship coaching. Her passion is creating a more nurturing culture within end of life care (but that’s a whole other article!).
Today Sarah shares her wisdom about writing customised vows for your wedding ceremony…
Words are powerful. Words give expression to our feelings, dreams and desires. A thought is so much more powerful when it is said out aloud, and given even more significance when it is received and affirmed by another. Words, when spoken, become emotion in motion, in other words…energy! Vows are special promises, important words, which have a potent and magic message from our heart and soul, which are given life and energized with our life-force…. our breath. Think of the power of affirmations or prayer even, how powerful those words can be, and know your vows are the same.
Giving one’s word is a beautiful and solemn thing….the closest thing to sacred. Your marriage vows are heart and soul words and I truly believe they are magic and sacred words. They are also words which are energized and given special significance by the fact that they are witnessed by others within the context of ritual and ceremony.
When I work with my couples, I approach the whole ceremony as a customised story about the couples’ life and create a portrait of their love in words. The ceremony is like reading from their own ‘book of love’, a story that remembers and celebrates the journey travelled to reach this point in their life. It can be a story that travels the full spectrum of emotions – funny, romantic, and reverent. A great ceremony experience, one which has the most impact and resonance for both you and your guests, is when you can feel that the story – the words – are real, genuine and authentic to the couple. Nowhere is this more important than in the vows. The traditional vows are beautiful and stand the test of time, and there are many great samples of contemporary vows available, however, from experience, it is the customised vows that generate the most feeling and meaning.
It is not that hard to create your own customised marriage vows. In my interviews I ask my couples “why are you getting married?”, “what does marriage mean to you?”, “what are the strengths of your relationship?”, and “what are your hopes and dreams for your life together?” The answers you have to these questions will very quickly provide you with some powerful phrases and special words that hold resonance and significance for you. The art of vow writing is then to bring your power phrases and words together succinctly in a way that makes sense. Try to make it not too wordy. Play around with it until it sounds like something that you would feel comfortable and authentic in saying.
My advice is to generally steer clear of gimmicky, jokey or glib one-liners in your vows unless it is really your trademark turn of phrase. There are plenty of other places in the ceremony to have fun and be whimsical and tongue-in-cheek. Take the opportunity with your marriage vows, as you look into the eyes of your beloved, to speak directly from your heart to their soul. When you truly affirm what is in your heart and what is most important to you in your marriage and relationship, you can’t go wrong.
Author: Sarah Tolmie, Civil Marriage Celebrant (CMC), Life & Love Celebrant, Coach and Consultant.
Images of Jo and Arj’s ceremony by: Sandra Henri Photography.