When you have the go-ahead from your registrar, you can start getting creative. Your registrar will be able to supply you with a standard ceremony script and it is a good idea to use this as the basis for constructing your own ceremony. It will help you to decide in which order you wish to say your vows and where, if necessary, you would like the registrar to speak. You will also need to decide where to include any readings or poems you may want.
Tradition has a funny way of being evocative so include a version of any lines that warm your hearts. However, you will probably not be allowed to use exact extracts from religious services since civil weddings must be strictly secular.
Alternatively you can make up your own vows or promises, either independently or together. The subject of these vows can be as individual as you are. As an example, you might want to include a set of promises to:
- Share the good and the bad parts of life together
- Love, honour, respect and cherish each other
- Respect the individuality of each other
- Be kind, trusting, tolerant and understanding
- Be honest and faithful
- Stay together for life
- Bring happiness and laughter into the marriage
- Be a good friend
- Seek a loving and stable relationship
Useful linking words that you might want to use include:
There may be elements of your relationship that are more important than others and the most successful way to write personalized vows is to think about the two of you and the things you would like to promise each other.
For example, you may want to emphasize the underlying friendship you have for each other or talk about the fun you can cram into the next few decades. At the other end of the scale, if you have come together after a period of separation following an affair then trust and fidelity are important things to promise to each other.
Don’t be afraid to have some fun because you might want to make promises about more light-hearted elements, such as sharing the washing up or keeping a room tidy, although these are usually more appropriate for a Humanist ceremony rather than a civil wedding. It is also a good idea to look through our love poems and readings section for inspiration.
Whatever ceremony you choose, you can either write your vows individually and read them to each other as a surprise at the wedding or take time to write them together. Either way, be sure to read your vows out loud a few times first because the written word often comes across very differently to the spoken word. The best way to stop you from breaking down with emotion on the day is to practice in front of the mirror. You may feel a bit silly but it definitely helps!
Finally, make sure someone in the wedding party has a spare copy of your vows and order of service. It isn’t completely unknown for the registrar to turn up without his or her copy on the day and, as we were taught in the Brownies, always “Be Prepared”!
In England and Wales there are two alternatives to the statutory declaratory and contracting words given above. These can be found in our article covering the legal requirements for getting married in England and Wales.