By LOIS SMITH BRADY
NYT: August 16, 2013
Writing your own vows, Lois Kellerman says, is like making homemade cookies.
“If you can find the right ingredients, the right words in the case of vows, it is almost always better,” said Ms. Kellerman, a former leader of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture who has officiated at hundreds of weddings.
Many brides and grooms are choosing to say vows they have written themselves, whether marrying in a meadow or a cathedral. Writing your own vows, then standing up and saying them in front of a crowd definitely heightens the emotions at a wedding ceremony.
“Some couples have stage fright and don’t want to get up there and bare it all in public, possibly crying, just being a mess,” said Rachael Hofmann, a wedding planner in Boulder, Colo. “It’s tough to get that emotional publicly.”
But homemade vows can add much to the ceremony. “I think a lot of people overlook the fact that the ceremony should be really lovely and heartfelt,” said Amanda Kingloff, 38, a writer who lives in Brooklyn and who wrote her vows for her marriage to Michael Cohen in Garrison, N.Y., in May 2009. “They think more about, ‘Should I be serving fish or chicken?’ ”
“I wanted my vows to be a creative spin on who we are,” Ms. Kingloff said. By the time they wed, she and Mr. Cohen, now 42, had lived together two years. Her vows read more like a short story about how, once they started dating seriously, her furniture and various collections had merged with Mr. Cohen’s, a metaphor for how their lives had joined.
She made just a few promises in her vows. “I didn’t need to say, ‘I vow to honor and cherish you’ because we already cherished each other,” she said. “It seemed obvious.”
Brides and grooms began writing their own vows in the mid-19th century, according to Elizabeth Abbott, who has written several books about marriage. American feminists and the like-minded men they married were among the first to reword traditional vows.
“They wrote vows together to express a common view of marriage,” Ms. Abbott said. “They thought about it really carefully because it was quite radical at the time, whereas today, I would say, it’s very personal.”