Our Wedding Vows and Reading
Our ceremony and vows were my favorite part of our wedding day in Canada last month. With a backdrop like this and a sweet, sentimental husband like I have, are you really surprised though? I feel like a lot of people skim over their ceremony in favor of the big, wild reception when they share stories about their wedding day. Don’t get me wrong - I love a party with great music and even better food, and we had a wonderful time at our reception with our closest friends and family overlooking the lake afterwards. But, when I look back on our wedding day, I know what is going to mean the most to me. It is walking down the aisle with my 2 Dads and seeing tears stream down Sam’s face as he saw me for the first time as a bride. I want to remember standing up in front of our guests (and hundreds of strangers) and making promises that will last a lifetime as husband and wife.
I had no idea that Sam would have such an emotional reaction at the altar; I had always guessed that it would be me who was trembling and barely able to speak. I told him, as strange as it may sound, that was my favorite part of our wedding day. Our ceremony was full of genuine emotion and intimacy and was a reflection of how much the promises and our marriage mean to us.
Our wedding officiant began the ceremony with the story of how we met for the first time 12 years ago, and then talked a little bit about the significance of our wedding bands and commitment.
As the only grandparent in attendance, we had asked my Grandmother to do our favorite reading by Robert Fulghum. It was the first time I had ever seen my grandmother cry, as her voice cracked and she paused looking back and forth at the two of us. We had chosen this particular reading because it was the perfect reflection of our relationship over the years and the promises we had made leading up to that point. The reading reminded me of when Sam and I first said “I love you”, all of those times we talked about our wedding and what it would look like, and the plans we had made over the years that seemed so far into the future.
"You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”
Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today you shall say to the world – This is my husband. This is my wife." - (Union by Robert Fulghum)
Sam and I had both put a lot of time and thought into our vows in the weeks and months leading up to our wedding day, and we kept them a secret from each other and our guests until we were at the altar. Mine were originally very long (as the majority of my writing tends to be) and I ended up cutting out about half at the last minute. I decided to write a letter to Sam to read on the morning of with some of the more personal promises and memories, and reserved the remainder for our guests.
On one of the last nights of our honeymoon before dinner, we made our way up to the hotel roof overlooking the city of Vancouver and read each other’s vows once again. Now they hang as a large, hand-lettered print in the middle of our living room as a reminder (and as our favorite first purchase as husband and wife).
I wanted to share our vows on here because when we were planning our wedding, reading other people’s vows online after a stressful day consumed by reworking our budget, or deciding on what type of alcohol to serve was a huge reminder of the purpose and meaning behind this big day. It brought me back to the “why” and fueled me with love and inspiration in writing my own promises to Sam.
"Anna, I stand here before you today, a man made whole because of true love. Do you remember 7 years ago, I told you I had gotten you something special for Christmas and you told your Mother you thought it might be an engagement ring? We had told each other we were in love just a few weeks prior and I knew what we had was truly unique. I couldn't afford an engagement ring at the time and we were both still in college. So instead, I had gotten you a little silver Tiffany's ring as a promise that when the time was right I would get you the real thing.
Just a month later you left for your first semester at Salisbury and we knew the distance and time apart would be the first real test of our relationship. I remember your mother saying that if we could make it through those few months then she would know we were serious. It was hard to see you only one day a week, but we made it through and came out stronger than before. I knew when I gave you the promise ring that one day you would be my wife. That experience solidified my feelings and I knew we would spend the rest of our lives together.
Six years have gone by since then and every year with you is better than the last. You are my lover, partner, and best friend. You are such an amazing young lady and I adore you for all of your wonderful qualities. You have such a passion for life and your work. You are a great dog mommy to Oliver and I know when we have children that they will become wonderful people because of you. You are truly beautiful inside and out. And I promise to always give you 100 percent. I promise to give you a kiss and tell you I love you every morning for as long as I live. And I promise to always look for a reason to stay. Sometimes I look at you when you aren't aware and just admire how stunning you are. I really feel like the luckiest guy on earth to be marrying you today. I love you for the rest of our lives."
"Sam, you are my best friend. You are everything I have ever dreamed of and prayed for, and more. You are kind. You are silly. You are intelligent. Your love for me is overwhelming and all-consuming. You acknowledge my strengths and accept my faults. You make me want to be a better person.
Today and everyday, I choose you. I choose you to be my husband and my partner in life. To stand by your side and sleep in your arms. To be joy in your heart and food to your soul. To learn with you and grow with you, even as time and life change us both. I promise to laugh with you in good times and struggle alongside you in bad times. I promise to be patient, and to remember that all things between us are rooted in love. I promise to support your dreams and to respect our differences, knowing that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone.
I am the luckiest person in the whole world. I love you, and I take you as you are now, tomorrow, and for eternity to come to be my husband."
Do you prefer traditional or personalized vows? Comment on the last photo on my Instagram feed and tell me, or tag me in your favorite wedding gram!
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xo Anna Elizabeth