Wedding Planning Tips

Traditional Wedding Vows or Custom Wedding Vows

Wedding vows are one of the most important parts of your wedding day, and making the decision between using traditional vows vs. writing your own is a big one!  Sometimes, couples aren’t even in agreement as to which is the better choice for their wedding day.

custom wedding vows, traditional wedding vows, wedding vow book
Photo by Lisa Staff Photography

Last week Paper Hearts Invitations shared an image of one of her new custom vow books.  I reshared it (because I love it!) and it spawned a great conversation with another wedding vendor friend. She replied,

“Too much pressure!  We didn’t write personalized vows and I’ve never regretted it.  These little books are really neat though.”

I love having these kinds of conversations because it always resets my perspective a bit and allows me to share what’s REALLY important on a wedding day: what you want.

As a videographer, custom wedding vows are a home run for my video.  Of course I love them.  But as much as I love them, what makes a great video is filming a wedding that isn’t full of bits and pieces of things to make a great video….it’s filming a wedding that matters to our couple.

It doesn’t matter if I love custom, handwritten vows.  It matters if you do.  Repeat this for pretty vow books, or any other detail (or lack thereof) that goes along with a wedding day.

I’m not here to convince anyone to ADD things to their wedding for the sake of a video. Please don’t do that.  It makes for the worst kind of video:  Staged and awkward.

Just have the kind of wedding day that YOU want, and I promise to make an awesome video to reflect that.  Your wedding doesn’t need to look like anything else in my portfolio, on our website, or on Pinterest.  It needs to look and feel like your wedding.

The Case for Traditional Wedding Vows

If you are married in your home church, or by your own pastor, it’s likely that you will be required to use wedding vows that have been determined by your church.  In faith-based weddings, there is a beautiful weight given to these vows, just like in any of the shared prayers or commitments of the church.  There is deep and powerful meaning in repeating the words or pledging the same things that your parents and grandparents professed on their wedding day.

These vows are shared with your entire faith community and can be every bit as emotional as custom vows.  The important thing is that they matter to you.

Traditional wedding vows do not have to be faith-based.  You may find unity in using vows that have been traditionally used throughout any community in which you find meaning and purpose.

The Case for Custom Wedding Vows

The biggest case for custom wedding vows is that they’re unique to you.   They come straight from the heart, and can be whatever you feel best will define your marriage going forward.  Straight from the heart doesn’t have to mean deep and emotional (though I do love those professions); if you and your soon to be spouse are goofy and silly, your vows can be as well.

Custom wedding vows don’t include anything that isn’t fitting for your marriage.  The only time I really don’t like traditional wedding vows is when I the couple mentions how they don’t care for a part of those vows, but they’re saying it anyway. You have so many options for how your wedding day will go down, don’t bring words that will have a negative meaning or feeling to you into it.

Wedding Vow Options

Thankfully, your wedding vows are not a black and white situation.  It doesn’t always have to be one or the other, and you may find that the best vows for your wedding day may be a blend of both traditional and custom vows.

If your faith traditions dictate a formal wedding ceremony and do not allow for custom vows, but you have some things in your heart that you really want to say….say them!  Some great options for this are exchanging private vows at a first look, or writing those vows down (in a pretty book or otherwise) to exchange and read before walking down the aisle.  Some couples even opt to take 5 minutes after their formal ceremony to exchange custom vows together.

Even in the most formal of ceremonies, your pastor, priest, or officiant may share (at your request) a reflection that may include some custom promises or the story of how you met and fell in love.

Any of these can be filmed and photographed (or not) depending on the preference of the couple.  In cases like this, we leave it up to the couple as to how much they would like filmed for their video.  Some couples choose to read vows or letters out loud to their friends, or profess them aloud at a first look.  Others may choose not to read them aloud, but be okay with images of them in their film and photos, and some would like these kept totally private.  We don’t ask our couples to read private vows aloud to us for the camera; it tends to feel unnatural and take away from the moment.  If it happens, we capture it.  If it doesn’t we’re okay with that.

Jeff and Alexandra wrote private vows for one another and each read them prior to their traditional Catholic ceremony.  Though we didn’t see or record these vows, the clips of Alexandra reading her are some of my favorites from their whole film.  There is so much more meaning in a relationship than any outsider will ever know, and private vows are just one example of that.

Sometimes a couple may not find meaning in traditional vows, but are too nervous to totally take the reigns on their wedding day.  Your officiant may have some options of modern or semi-unique vows they have used at other weddings that are more to the taste of the couple.

Another option is to work on those vows with your officiant.  Joanna and Alan wrote their own vows, which were fed to them line by line (much like traditional vows usually are) during their ceremony.  For our videos, we often edit the officiant out of any ‘repeat after me’ situations (usually to make time for other content), but giving your officiant the responsibility for leading the vows takes a lot of the ‘custom vow’ pressure out of a wedding day.

About Those Vow Books

Whether you use them to hand write your custom wedding vows for your ceremony or private vows, I think we can all agree that having a keepsake book for your vows is a great idea.  Paper Hearts Invitations creates these custom books that can be made to match her invitation suites.  You can hand write your vows (self-written or traditional) or connect with a calligrapher to write them for you to make a great keepsake from your wedding day!

custom wedding vows, traditional wedding vows, wedding vow book
Photo by Alexa George Photography

Whether you’re writing your own vows or sticking to tradition, MotionWorks Wedding Films is ready to create a wedding film that captures your wedding day, however you choose to celebrate it! Contact us today to start the conversation about your wedding film!

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