Host: What is the proper way to share original wedding vows at the ceremony?
Bill Cochran: Many brides and grooms feel that because they have written their vows then it's their responsibility to put them to memory and share them just looking deeply in each other's eyes. I have to tell you in nearly 40 years of doing this, I think only one or two times has a bride or groom successfully got through the memorization part. Now, I will tell you why, on the day of your wedding you have got a lot of things gone through your mind or you are so weary, your mind is totally blank. It won't accept anything and I have seen brides and grooms works so hard at memorizing them and just not be able to get it out in the emotion or the stress of the time.
So the brides and grooms that I worked with have their vows all written out. I encourage them to have a copy somewhere and we do this in several ways and other officiants do it the same way. Sometimes you may have a bridegroom or a best man or mate of honor or one of the wedding party present to you the vows written up on a nice piece of stationary or card and the officiant would say to that person, Would you please present the vows to the bride or the groom? They would hand them to them and then the bride and groom would say them to each other and I encourage them as much as possible to do them for memory but to know that they have them written right here and if they forget something, all they have to do is look down at that and often times just having that in their hand gives them the courage they need to actually get through it mostly from memory.
So we invite them to deliver them right from their heart straight to each other. Now often you will hear weddings where vows are repeated after the officiant, but I firmly believe that when a couple has gone to the trouble to write their own vows, their own words from their heart, that the officiant should stay back and not interfere at all in that but just introduce the concept of would you now please present the vows that you have written to your bride or to your groom. Step back, let them say all the words themselves. That's part of the uniqueness I believe of writing their own vows.
You know you can be successful at writing your vows and your wedding officiant probably in most cases is going to be very happy with that and willing to coach you in the process of doing that. You will be proud on yourself when you look back on your wedding day and say Well I wrote those myself. At every anniversary you will pull them out and repeat them and feel that pride all over again and read this at the day of your wedding. It's a very special and unique thing that you are going to be doing.