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Personalizing Your Ceremony: Put it into Words

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2005

Wedding vows are the essence of the ceremony. Legally, they must only confirm your intention to marry, but beyond that, you're generally free to say anything you like (your church may have its own guidelines; talk to your officiant to find out).Writing your own vows is perhaps the most personal way of demonstrating your love and commitment. The bride and groom might each privately decide what they want to say and then speak the words to each other for the first time at the altar. To keep to tradition but also add your own sentiments, you could modify the standard vows using words that suit the two of you.

Including readings can help you express your thoughts. Shakespearean sonnets, biblical selections, and poems by famous authors are popular ceremony readings precisely because they capture the emotion of love and marriage so well. But you might also look to less familiar sources. Review the works of poets you both admire. If you write poetry yourselves or have loved ones who do, consider original work. Or consult books of quotations for thoughts about love and marriage, and ask a few friends or family members to stand up and read them in lieu of traditional longer selections.

Song lyrics work just as well as long as they reflect your feelings. At their August 2002 wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Taylor Waldo and Cade Metz had the groom's mother read the words to the 1970s song "Free to Be You and Me." Says Taylor,"Cade's mom often played the song for him and his sisters when they were kids, so he felt that the reading paid tribute to his family and a value his parents had instilled in him."

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