I don’t care what they say, not all wedding vows are equally romantic and sentimental. The ones written on scraps of cocktail napkin while the groom and his boys are at a bar pre-wedding are not sentimental, because that would imply somebody put some “feeling” into writing those vows. And let’s face it, we all know it’s whatever chicken scratch he could come up with in between watching the game, talking shit with his friends, and admiring the bikinis strolling by his seat. No sir, I’m sorry. You are busted. You had to write them and you did the required homework, but odds are there’s nothing romantic about them.
Why is the wedding ceremony such an incredibly difficult thing to write? I’ll admit, we got married in an Episcopal service by a real priest, so all I had to do was choose the readings and prayers. But for the rest of you (my clients especially), you have no excuse to be such slackers. I send you a huge ceremony planning guide right after you hire me, months ahead of your wedding (it’s generic – meaning works for gay and straight clients because it has so many options). I warned you right then and there that the ceremony is one of the most procrastinated items on the wedding “to do” list and I urge you to knock it out early and get it over with. It’s like taking logic and stats your freshman year of college so you never have to do it again. Same with the wedding ceremony, once you select your vows and put it on paper, it’s not going to change. At least it shouldn’t. What are you going to do, decide to take out something that you’re promising in your vows six months later because you’re mad at your fiancé? Not likely. That’s a whole other blog topic…
So what’s the problem? And it literally is a HUGE problem for at least 80 percent of my clients. What is so incredibly daunting about creating a 15-minute wedding ceremony when you have a Mad Libs-esque guidebook to lead you through it and all you HAVE to do it cut and paste into a Word document and add your own names? Not rocket science. Not even Sodoku. But some of you who watched “Wedding Island” saw that I’m not joking and brides really do draft their vows as they’re finishing hair and makeup. But, at least, they write them down. Most of the time – I’ve had two brides lately that had me pleading with them to go down the aisle as they finished writing their vows. One was straight, one was not – therefore proving my theory that all y’all suck when it comes to getting your wedding vows done ahead of schedule. Doesn’t matter the gender of the wedding clients. Most of you put off your vows.
What’s even worse than wedding vows written at the last minute??? Extemporaneous vows. Vows “from the heart.” Oh sure, you’ll hear people defend “winging it” as romantic. No. It’s not. I call bullshit on that. Even if you were president of Toastmaster’s, you need to consider the meaning behind your vows before you spew them out of your mouth on a whim and promise these things for life in front of God and all the world.
I have sat through countless “off the cuff” vows and watched the minister, the guests, and sometimes even the brides or grooms wince as their beloved promises not to “watch football on important days” and not be afraid of her at night when she has “goo on her face” and to “walk the dog and empty the dishwasher.” No lie, they say these things (it’s usually people who’ve been kind enough to pay for a videographer so we can all watch it again later and try to figure out what they were saying in the first place). And they mean them in that moment. But your marital vows are supposed to be promises to support each other, work together, compromise together, etc. Not a litany of things you’ve been meaning to do and promising to do for as long as you’ve lived together. That’s just not right. That’s a “honey I WILL do” list and you can work on that together during your honeymoon if you’re even serious about that stuff.
First, there is no rule that says you have to write your own vows. It’s just a trend. Thousands of people have kindly done it already and put it out there on the Internet so you can just pick and choose what applies to you. If you can’t handle that many options, then you can just use our ceremony planning guide and that skinnies it down a bit. I think a lot of people find the options daunting and so decide to write their own vows. But I have a tip for you – not everybody is a writer. And sometimes you can find the words you need already written by somebody else and “borrow” those vows without starting from scratch.
Second, if you’re having trouble getting started but you’re determined to do it yourself, try writing a letter to your fiancé and then see if that converts. Just try it six months before you’re to be married. Trust me, you’re likely to be less-stressed and more in love at that moment anyway. There is nothing relaxing about having your wedding ceremony plan hanging over your head the week of your wedding. Especially when you have an annoying wedding planner like me who is right on your ass about it.
My goal is to give you the perfect wedding day. I don’t want to see you freaking out about wedding vows, or anything else! You should be getting handsome or beautiful and enjoying your loved ones and the minister should have been all prepared with your ceremony for at least a month in case they had questions for you. Your wedding rehearsal will go more smoothly, everybody involved will understand what’s going on, and nobody will be bugging you about your vows while you’re getting ready to get married.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT. Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!