I keep losing count, and running out of fingers, when I try to figure out how many weddings I attended in my 20’s. I had a large group of friends and, just like a series of well place dominos, they got hitched, tied the knot and said ‘I Do’ one after the other.
Throughout all of those weddings, and the wedding we attend now as wedding videographers, I have heard a lot of vows – a lot of big declarations of love and commitment, a lot of ‘I will’ and ‘I promise’ statements.
Words have always been important to me and when it came to our wedding I wanted to have vows that we intended to live out loud, to say first with words and then say over and over again with our actions.
I’ve always felt that the vows are the heart of the wedding day. I mean really, when you strip a wedding back to its nuts and bolts, a wedding is a fancy way to sign paperwork and celebrate that you signed paperwork – but for me it wasn’t about the paperwork – it was about the vows, the commitment, the covenant, the agreement, the line in the sand that those words drew when you exchanged them, locking them in each other’s hearts forever.
I still remember, taking time during our three-month engagement, to write our vows together – discussing what we wanted to include, what we wanted to say. How did we want to promise to live our lives together? How did we want our marriage to look? We didn’t want to promise things we couldn’t keep – we wanted to write vows that we could live – vows that felt and looked like us and the way we loved each other.
After we wrote our vows we went through them line by line, with as much intention and foresight as we could at the time, and we tried our best to give our future-selves something they could cling to.
Even after nearly three years of marriage I still feel strongly about our vows. They are a source of truth in many ways for us – they are the honest purpose, the vision, the plan, the idea, the raw love and union between the two of us.
I’ve also learnt that vows need to be lived, outworked, words transferred for actions, it’s one thing to say ‘I vow to love you and care for you’ but it’s the loving and the caring that build a marriage – that create that lifetime of love we all crave.
The daily living of our vows has taught me the truth behind those pieces of simple advice that get bounced around at bridal showers, like say ‘I love you’ every day, never go to bed angry, have regular date nights…all the things that almost seem trite and a touch basic.
But, in many ways, building a strong marriage and outworking wedding vows is a practice of doing a number of basic things over and over again – basic love built upon basic love.
I was thinking about this yesterday, after madly running through the shops and getting to the post office just before it closed, I was really ready to head home, I wasn’t feeling great and it had been a long day – but I knew we didn’t have anything at home for dinner and if I went straight home Dave would have to go out later – so I went to the shops and bought everything we needed and headed home. It’s such a petty story, such a basic thing, it feels a bit dumb to even be retelling it now – such a non-event, it’s a mundane life moment, but the reason why I did the shopping yesterday wasn’t because I felt like it or because I like doing grocery shopping or because it was a good time to do it – I did it because I love Dave, and I made a vow to care for him, to put him first by forsaking all others – including myself.
For me – it’s in those basic little moments, the decision to make the other person a cup of tea when you make one for yourself, saying ‘thank you’ when they take the bins out, adding ‘I love you’ at the end of a text message when you’re reminding each other not to forget the milk/bread/chocolate/wine/kitty litter – it’s paying attention to how you can love each other in each moment, the basic, everyday ways you can live your vows in your actions.
When I read back over our vows now I’m sure a true words smith could have done a much better job at crafting the phrases. Sure we stole some lines from the movie The Vow (but they were just so good!), and some parts are cliché and others are old, well worn and broken in by the tongues of lovers standing at alters throughout the ages – but together they are a collection of words unique to us, to our faith and our own weirdness. I can still see our fresh hearts and young love behind the words – I can feel the earnest desire to build a long lasting marriage when I read them, and this is the gold hidden within our vows, the treasure we’ve committed to building into our life as we live these vows out loud in the most basic of everyday actions and in-jokes and tiny moments just big enough for the two of us.
I vow to love you and care for you.
I vow help you love life.
To laugh with you, to see life as an adventure, to take risks together, to design a colourful, creative, unique life with you.
To hold you with tenderness and to have the patience that love demands.
To make cups of tea for you/I will help you organise things
To never stop dating you.
I will be your partner, your safe place, your friend and your lover.
I will be open and honest with you.
Giving myself to you alone.
Forsaking all others.
I vow to always look for the best in you.
I refuse to fault find or hold a debt.
I will listen to you and hear what you are saying. I will respect you.
I am committed to helping you become the full expression of who you were created to be.
I vow to always keep my heart centred on Jesus.
Through him may I grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
May God teach me to be quick to forgive and slow to anger.
I vow to always point you towards Jesus.
To pray for you and fight for you
I will not forget that this is a once in a lifetime love.
I will never give up on you, never walk away.
No matter what challenges might carry us apart, we will always find our way back to each other.
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
I will love you as God loves you, each and every day,
as long as we both shall live.
Photo by Fiona + Bobby Photography