The following passage is part of an introduction to a ceremony that I officiated. The couple got married in the woods on Cape Cod so the reference to their memory of biking through wooded trails was fitting.
When I asked about a special memory you share, it was interesting to me that you picked something that metaphorically represents marriage. You recalled a biking trip you took in the Adirondacks. The trail was challenging with downed limbs and mud to maneuver through, bugs to contend with, and seemingly no end in sight. But you persevered and refused to give up. You did, eventually, find a road, but you didn’t count on the fifteen mile return trip being uphill. You described the ride as both exhausting and exhilarating, and several times, you nearly road right off a cliff. Marriage is much like that ride – it takes work, dedication, and faith. But throughout the journey, there are joys and triumphs, and open roads you stumble upon unexpectedly. As you embark on this next phase in your relationship, remember that ride and the joy you felt in conquering the obstacles which would have been so easy to succumb to.
I wrote the following vows from Nathan to Kristen. It was important to them to write personal vows to each other. Kristen was very comfortable with penning her feelings to paper, but Nathan felt he couldn’t quite articulate the intensity of his feelings. He filled out my questionnaire which is designed to dig deep and gain insight about small, yet significant details about a couple’s relationship. These are the vows that, with Nathan’s input, I came up with for him. According to Nathan and Kristen, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.
Kristen, I remember the first moment I saw you. You were eating an apple and taking the daintiest little bites. I thought to myself that you would never finish it and I didn’t care because I could have watched you nibble away for hours. You still eat apples like that and I still love watching because it reminds me of the moment that changed my life. I didn’t know anything about you, but something about you lit me up inside and I haven’t been the same since. Since then, I have discovered so many more little habits you have that may seem trivial, but to me, they’re all the intricacies that make you who you are. I love the way you twirl your hair absentmindedly when you read a book, I love that you not only have to stop to pet every single dog we pass, but you have to learn the dog’s name, age, and breed. I love that you can’t spell the word refrigerator and that you carry a lucky marble in your purse. I love the way your ears stick out of your hair and that you always write handwritten thank you notes. Most of all, I love that you make me want to be a better person, to get out of bed every single day and make you happy. I, Nathan, promise you, Kristen, that I will continue to try to make you happy every day for the rest of my life no matter what obstacles we may face. I promise to cherish each day we share together, even days that are challenging. I vow to be your rock when you need one, your shoulder to cry on, your partner to laugh with, and your greatest admirer. I promise to be the best husband I can be as we journey through life together.You are my soul mate and the one who makes my world come to life. I can’t wait to continue to discover everything about you as we grow old together. I love you, and everything about you, with all my heart.
Reverse Personal Vows
Not a fan of speaking in public? Who says your officiant can’t read them for you? Check out my blog post for other alternative ways to personalize your vows.
Chris, ever since you volunteered to cook for your future in-law’s dinner party, Beth knew you were the one for her. Not only did that moment prove to Beth that you are selfless, caring, and always willing to lend a hand, but the menu you proposed brought comfort in knowing she would no longer have to survive on frozen dinners and pasta. Now, countless gourmet meals later, Beth has never looked back and can’t wait to begin the next chapter in your lives. She is forever grateful to you for always finding the silver lining in even the most challenging times; you never fail to make her smile and boost her up when she is down. Your ability to find humor in life balances her more serious nature, and together, you are a perfect team, able to tackle any obstacles that may come your way. As you look to the future as husband and wife, Beth promises to support your goals and work together to achieve them. She will never let a day go by without saying ‘I love you’ and will never complain about doing the dishes or folding the laundry in exchange for those wonderful meals you prepare. She will always be open and honest and communicate even when it’s hard to speak the truth. Above all, Beth vows not just to be your wife, but to be your best friend, to stand by your side always, and to love you more than these words could ever express.