How to make your vows rock!

Writing vows

Do you want to make your vows rock but unsure how to get started? Swayed by the gazillion examples out there in Google-Land?

The most heart-felt and beautiful part of any wedding ceremony can be the moment the couple share their vows. However, this is one area couples seem to get most concerned about.  What to say?  How to say it?  What happens if one is full of lengthy heartfelt sincerity and the other is a quick witty ditty?

Argh!  Panic not though – read these handy tips on how to write your vows and hopefully this will ease your vow-writing-pain to help you wow your partner and express what it is you really want to tell them.

Where to Start

You’ve got the blank piece of paper, you’ve got the pen…. and you’ve got total mind-blank.  So, take a deep breath, pour yourself a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise depending on your preference), ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:

  • Why do you love your partner?  What do they do that makes them different to anyone else you’ve ever been with?
  • What do you want to promise them you’ll always do throughout your relationship?
  • Do you have some flaws that you will try to improve?  
  • Do they have some flaws you’ll promise to overlook?
  • If in the future you have hard times, what do you promise to always do during this period?
  • Where do you see yourselves in your future together?
  • What support will you give them to help them reach their goals?
  • Does your partner have children, or do you have children together (of the fur or non-fur variety)? If so what kind of parent/step-parent do you promise to be?

If you answer these questions, you have your vows!

Forget Your Audience

Try to forget your audience. Write your vows for your partner and not for your guests.  This may sound obvious, but I think it’s easy get hung up on ‘will people laugh’ or ‘will my friends and family think these romantic enough’.  Imagine it’s just you and your partner, and you’re getting one chance to really explain to them exactly what you promise to do throughout your married life together.

It is also worth writing your vows as close to the ceremony date as possible. This might sound a bit ‘what the ….?!’ but writing your vows too far in advance can lead to over-editing and ending up with something which sounds insincere or over-written.

I also provide the option to couples of sharing their vows with me prior to the ceremony.  Getting a second opinion can really help and can give you the assurance you need that you’ve written the right words.

If You’re Completely Freaking Out…

You don’t have to have personalised vows.  If you find that the thought of sharing your feelings about your partner in front of your friends and family excruciating and it’s going to outweigh any enjoyment of your ceremony, then don’t feel pressured to do it.  

If you want to omit this part of the ceremony, you may wish to consider other alternatives, which could be

  1. Share your personalised vows with your partner after the ceremony when it’s just the two of you
  2. Opt for something more standard and less personal. I have a few standard options which can be tweaked to make them feel right for you
  3. Write something yourself but ask your celebrant to read them out as a series of questions, eg: ‘Do you [name] promise to not put the empty milk bottle in the fridge. Do you vow to make them a cup of tea every morning, no matter what?’ etc. You can then just say ‘I do’ or ‘I will’ once they’ve been read out.

Although the sharing of personalised vows can be one of the highlights of the ceremony, don’t let this part of your day overly stress you.  A good celebrant will make this aspect of your ceremony a truly magic aspect of your day and will support you through the process.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss this or anything else weddingy further by contacting me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

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The Legal ‘Bit’

I think wedding ceremonies should be 90% about the ceremonial side of things – the meaningful, fun, inclusive, humorous, loving element – and 10% about the legalities. However, the legal part is a necessity and I thought it might be helpful for me to talk you through what needs to be done here in Australia to make sure everything is legit.

Lodging your intention to marry

At least one calendar month prior to your ceremony date (and no more than 18 months in advance) you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage This document will need to be signed either in the presence of your celebrant, or a JP, or any other person as listed on page 4 of the form.  Once the celebrant has received this, it is lodged. If you have any queries on this form, or are unable to complete in Australia due to one or both of you being abroad, your celebrant will be able to advise you of your options.

Declaration to marry

Prior to your ceremony, you both will need to sign a declaration of no legal impediment to marriage.  This is usually signed at the rehearsal, or on the day of the ceremony itself (but prior to the ceremony).

Legal wording during ceremony

Celebrant:

I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriage according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. 

Bride and Groom:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that [name], take thee, [name], to be my lawful wedded wife/husband

There are some minor variations that can be made on both of these, but they are minor.  Your celebrant will be able to provide you with these options.

Legal documents during ceremony

You will require two witnesses, and they will watch you sign the following, and then sign themselves:

  1. The official certificate of marriage, which is the document sent to the relevant Birth, Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for registration purposes
  2. A second official certificate of marriage which will be kept by your celebrant
  3. A certificate of marriage, which is given to you both.  Please note that this is not the legal certificate you will need to use for changing names or to legally evidence marriage.  You will need to apply for an official marriage certificate from the relevant Births, Deaths and Marriages office for a copy of this.

If all of above feels a bit dry and, well, boring, it’s only a small (yet necessary) part of your day, and the right celebrant will make sure people remember the meaningful parts.

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The Stupid Questions…

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I had a groom ring me the other evening and he was very apologetic about what he referred to as ‘his stupid questions’ (incidentally, and this may surprise some people, at least a third of my initial contact calls are with grooms).

His stupid questions were not stupid.  Let’s face it, many of the people I marry have never been married before.

His questions included;

Who should I book first, the celebrant or the venue? Answer: The venue if it’s one which requires booking.  If it’s at home or at a venue which doesn’t need to be booked, and you have your heart set on a specific celebrant, then check their availability first.

Who does the paperwork?  Answer: The Notice of Intended Marriage is a joint effort (the initial document completed by law to your celebrant), but your celebrant will provide guidance on what you need to fill in when.

Do you decorate the ceremony area? Answer: Sadly, no.  I have access to my own supply of lovely things, but they aren’t necessarily your taste in lovely things, so therefore decoration of the ceremony space needs to be arranged by you.

Do you stay for the reception?  Answer: No, I don’t.  It’s really kind when people ask me and I’m always up for staying for a congratulatory glass of something and a photo with the couple.

Can you help me write my vows? Answer: Yes, I can help.  I can’t write them for you, as they are your words, coming from your heart, but I can give guidance and read over them to offer suggestions.

Now, none of the above questions are stupid, are they?  I mean, how many times in your life do you get to organise a wedding (maybe once, or even twice, or if you’re Elizabeth Taylor, eight times)?  So please, please, please, feel free to ask me anything and never worry that you’re going to sound stupid.  You won’t, you’re not, and I’m here to help you navigate a whole new experience.

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Who cries most at a ceremony?

Let’s face it.  Weddings are pretty emotional.  There’s the arrival music, the vows, the readings, the kiss, the rings, and sometimes there’s grooms crying and sometimes there’s brides crying and sometimes everyone is having a bit of a boo hoo hoo.  And that’s totally totally fine.  If there’s ever a free hall pass to cry, it’s at a wedding.

In my view, I love it when people cry.  In fact, I practically demand at least one crier!  I’ve had weddings where the couple provided a pack of tissues per guest as they knew there’d be a lot of criers.

As far as the bride and groom are concerned, I would estimate that the crying ratio is 65% grooms, 35% brides.  Yes, you read that correctly.  More grooms cry than brides.  And why is that?

I believe it’s because the brides run through and visualise the ceremony many times in their head, so when it actually happens they’re more prepared.  Whereas for many grooms, they haven’t prepared themselves emotionally.

I have no problem with brides or grooms crying.  It’s a genuine reaction to a genuine moment, and I always have a spare tissue or two on hand, just in case.   All part of the service…

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Five things to consider when choosing your celebrant.

Choosing a celebrant is such a personal choice.  When you envisage standing in front of your family and friends to share your vows, you may already have a really clear vision as to what your celebrant looks like and how they sound.  However, you may also feel like you have no idea where to even start.  Below are five things to consider which  may help you whilst you search for the right person.

  1. Many celebrants will have had other career(s) prior to coming in to celebrancy and asking them what their celebrant and non-celebrant experience is will give an insight into other skill-sets they have.  For example, I have worked as a journalist and as a project manager and therefore I have skills which help me write quality ceremonies, whilst also being a very organised person.
  2. Consider not only what you may need in a celebrant, but what others may need.  Do you have a ‘tricky’ parent or relative? Do you have children you want to include in your ceremony?  If so, do you feel your celebrant will be able to build a rapport with them and make them feel comfortable?
  3. Try to find someone who ‘gets’ you.  They don’t need to become your new best friend, but it’s great when there’s a rapport built.
  4. Testimonials are your friend – see what others have said, and if their style of weddings is similar to your style and they rave about their celebrant, then it could be a match.
  5. Don’t just go for the cheapest.  Cheap does not always equal good, and I know I personally charge what I feel I’m worth.  I put a lot of effort in to my ceremonies, and this is reflected in my price.

Good luck in your search!

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My most Surprising Wedding Moment Part One

In my five years as a celebrant, I’m happy to report that any ‘surprising’ wedding moments have been planned and well-received.  There’s never been a Ross/Emily/Rachel scene, a la Friends, or a last minute kerfuffle as a blast from the past interrupts the vows declaring ‘STOP!  DON’T MARRY THAT MAN/WOMAN! EVEN THOUGH I’VE HAD A MILLION CHANCES BEFORE, I HAVE CHOSEN NOW TO TELL YOU’.  So below is Part One in an occasional series of Most Surprising Weddings.

The Flash Mob Wedding.  

This was for a gorgeous couple called Helen and Nigel.  They had seen me conduct a wedding for friends of theirs, and when they asked me to conduct theirs, I was excited as we clicked very quickly.

I suggested that they ask their readers to choose their readings themselves and to keep it secret, and offered to liaise with their readers directly.  One was a guy called Nick, and he came up with the idea of singing One Day Like This by Elbow

When the time came for his reading, the last during the ceremony, he stood up the front, acted very nervous, and fumbled about trying to find his ‘reading’ in his pockets.  ‘Oh dear,’ he stuttered, ‘I appear to have forgotten my paper.’ The bride and groom were looking pained, and were muttering ‘Don’t worry mate, it doesn’t matter..hn_W240 (2).’ to him.

Nick then said ‘Actually, I think I can remember it anyway.  Let me try…’ and with that he talked the first line ‘Drinking in the morning sun…’ then began singing the second line ‘Blinking in the morning sun’, and with more confidence and volume, the third and the fourth line.

As the bride and groom started to clock on that Nick was going to sing them a song for his reading, another friend, sitting among the guests, stood up and sang the fifth line, then another friend the sixth, then another, and another, and so on.  In the end there was eight friends and myself (who got to sing a line) all in on it.  And to add a bit of extra musical flavour, I roped my husband, Mr HB, in and he walked up the aisle playing the guitar for the chorus which all eight of us sang.

The bride and groom were blown away with the effort put in for this (we had all rehearsed) and their guests were equally surprised.  And this, dear reader, is why I love, love, love my job!

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Next week: Another surprising ceremony moment involving yet more musical talent