Brad called me the day before his wedding in a panic: "How do I write my vows?" I was surprised because Brad's a violinist and often plays at weddings, so he's heard numerous vows. In that moment, though, he sounded like a drowning man!
I told him to just speak from his heart, but this only confused him, "How do I do that? What else should I do?" "Nothing," I told him, "just speak from your heart." I reminded him that a vow is not a pre-nup. It's a pledge of the heart and, as such, is not a detailed listing of everything that he's going to do or not do in his marriage. His vow is but an echo of what is deep within his heart.
Brad and his fiancée, Mary, had been high school sweethearts and dated throughout college. She, too, was a musician. At their ceremony, Brad made his vow first. Mary's eyes were glistening as he spoke movingly "from his heart." When Mary went to speak, she was so overwhelmed that she reached out for my hand. I thought she was just giving my hand a squeeze so as to steady her nerves. But, she held it tightly throughout her vows.
Over the last 20 years, I've officiated many, many ceremonies and while I've not seen it all or heard it all, too often I can forget just how difficult it is to find the words to let someone you love know that there are no words to describe your love!
I'm not sure I can teach someone how to compose a vow. A toast or a speech? Sure. A vow, though, is such an intimate expression of devotion that it defies instruction. While I can't tell you exactly how to write your own vows, I can help you focus on your love and life together, and, in so doing, find the words that echo what's in your heart.
I invite you to slow down, mindfully create time and retreat into your heart as you consider what you're promising to your partner in this crazy world of ours.
What follows are 15 of my favorite quotes about love, companionship and marriage. After each quote, I pose questions to get you thinking about the particulars of your love and commitment. Let your answers to these quotes inspire and guide you as you go about writing your personal vows!
15 Quotes To Cheer And Inspire You
1. To love someone is to hope in them always. Anonymous
• What are your hopes for your partner? For your own self?
• What are your hopes for your life together?
2. Make yourself necessary to someone. Emerson
• How is your partner necessary to your life and well-being?
• Is your partner your life OR does your partner give you life?
3. To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu
• How has loving your partner given you strength and courage?
• What have you been able to do with that strength and courage?
4. Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, only with what you are expecting to give -- which is everything. Katherine Hepburn
• What does it mean for you to give "everything" in your marriage?
• Is there something you're not willing to give your partner?
5. You have made a place in my heart where I thought there was no room for anything else. You have made flowers grow where I cultivated dust and stones. Robert Jordan
• What has your partner brought into your heart and life that you thought was never possible?
• How have you brought healing to your partner's heart?
6. We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. Robert Fulghum
• How are you weird? How is your partner weird?
• What do you enjoy about your shared weirdness?!
7. The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich
• What do you enjoy about listening to your partner?
• What has listening to your partner taught you about yourself?
8. Never love anyone who treats you as ordinary. Oscar Wilde
• How does your partner treat you as extra-ordinary?
• How do you treat your partner as extra-ordinary?
9. Two people fall in love, and decide to see if their love might stand up over time, if there might be enough grace and forgiveness and memory lapses to help the whole shebang hang together. Anne Lamott
• Have you and your partner been able to forgive each other?
• How important is the notion of "forgiveness" in your life together?
10. For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. Judy Garland
• What is something your partner has told you about yourself that no one else has ever said?
• What have you told your partner about him or her self that no one else has ever said?
11. My whole life changed when I decided not just what I'd like to do, but when I decided who I was committed to being and having in my life. Tony Robbins
• How does your partner help you be who you want to be?
• Who and what has your partner introduced you to that has broadened your world?
12. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. George Carlin
• What is a moment you shared with your partner that "took your breath away"?
• What do you hope never to forget about the experience?
13. Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone -- we find it in another. The meaning of our life is a secret that has to be revealed to us in love, by the one we love. The one who loves is more alive and more real than when they did not love. Thomas Merton
• What has your partner helped you discover about yourself that you had not known before?
• What have you helped your partner discover about himself, herself, that they did not know before?
14. When we talked, I felt brilliant, fascinating; she brought out the version of myself I like most. Nadir Alsadir
• How does your partner make you feel "brilliant" and "fascinating"?
• What version of yourself does your partner help to bring out of you?
15. The best way to know life is to love many things. Van Gogh
• What things do you love now that you didn't when your partner was not in your life?
• What is the greatest thing about love that your partner has helped you learn?
JP Reynolds, M.Div. has officiated more than one thousand weddings and has coached hundreds of people in how to create and deliver heartfelt, personalized ceremonies. If you've been invited by a friend or relative to celebrate their wedding ceremony and are wondering what to do, visit: http://ceremonymadesimple.com
Follow JP Reynolds on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@jprweddings