I not only wrote my wedding vows—I wrote the entire ceremony. I'm picky like that. Caught up in context and connotation and wanting a spiritual but not-necessarily-religious vibe, what got said that warm spring day mattered to me.
I'm not alone.
Sure, you'd expect a bride like Kyla Duffy of Boulder, Colorado, who married in a skateboard park, to say something unusual to cement her nuptials to Dylan Buli. Indecision led to not one but three wedding rings. "He said, 'With this ring, I give you my heart. With this ring, I give you my soul. With this ring, I give you another ring,'" Duffy says. "We also exchanged internet passwords instead of real vows."
But, what about more traditional couples? Engaged in May 2011, with a summer 2012 wedding in the works, Jane Couto and Brian Govednik of Bristol, Rhode Island, will write their own vows. The wedding will still feature all the usual Catholic Mass pomp and rigmarole inside the church they attend every week, but Couto says, "We will vow to love and support each other, be faithful, et cetera, but in our own way. I cannot imagine saying, 'I will forsake all others.' It just doesn't sound like me."
How popular is the practice?
A longtime bridal columnist, I attend at least 24 weddings each year. Blame it on living in Colorado where anyone can perform a marriage ceremony, but I'd estimate 20 percent of weddings feature personalized vows.
Greg Hunt, a certified marriage enrichment specialist and pastor with more than 30 years of wedding officiating to his credit, performed just one out of 100 marriages with personalized wedding vows in his Kansas City congregation, however.
While no one keeps real data on it, anecdotally speaking, couples that fall into these categories seem more likely write their own vows:
• Marrying later in life, either for the first time or again
• Coming from a background of freeform religion, "spiritualism" or general agnosticism
• Feeling a strong sense of individualism in regard to their relationship
• Holding the wedding in a secular location (ie. not a church or temple)
• Wanting a unique or memorable wedding