Traditional Vows vs. Writing Your Own

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Two brides share their own perspectives.

When thinking about the wedding ceremony, couples are faced with an important choice: stick with tradition or write your own vows? We asked two Columbus couples to reflect on their own choices.

Sticking with Tradition

Nicole Klemp was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church, and when she got engaged to Zac Sewards, she knew she wanted a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony. "In the Greek Orthodox church, we actually don't exchange vows," she says. "It's viewed as a promise between the couple and God, not the couple to each other. There's no 'till death do us part' in the ceremony."

Nicole's husband Zac isn't Greek Orthodox, but he is Christian, and having those religious traditions as part of their marriage was important to him as well. "There's a lot of symbolism as part of the ceremony," Nicole says. "It was important to me and to us to bring that tradition into our marriage. The whole symbolism [represents] coming together as one, and having mutual respect and equality in your relationship."

In the written program, the couple explained the meaning behind Greek Orthodox wedding traditions, such as when the couple exchanges rings blessed by the priest, which symbolizes how each person's weaknesses are compensated by the other's strengths, and the service of crowning, which symbolizes the couple starting a new kingdom together through the sacrament of marriage.

"I don't think that because we didn't say personal words to each other that took away from the meaning," Nicole says. "It brought us together because it's so steeped in tradition. We're doing this not just because we're on a journey together, but because we have a higher purpose."

Writing Your Own

Amber Linebarger wed Brian Dick at the Columbus Museum of Art last June, and the couple wanted their vows to be as unique as every other aspect of their wedding. "Everything throughout the whole wedding was really personal," she says. "We wanted everybody to come into the world we built for them and celebrate our love. So we wanted the vows to be something personal as well."

Amber and Brian agree that the process of writing and delivering personal vows was a little intimidating, and shared tips for other couples. "Starting with a time limit was helpful," Amber says. "You can go and go, and then edit it down to 90 seconds or two minutes." She adds that while they kept the specifics a surprise, they did check in with each other about overall tone.

"Practice a lot, including out loud," Brian says. "Written is so different than spoken, so I had lots of iterations where written it sounded good, but when I read it out loud, it just didn't flow."

Writing their own vows sparked a sweet and funny surprise for each of them during the ceremony. Brian included his willingness to try and get clothes out of the dryer as part of his vows, which elicited a laugh from the guests. Amber, who hates leaving clothes in the dryer, had humorous elements to her vows as well. "At the end, I said something like 'Today, as we pledge our love and commitment, I'll always honor you, and in return, if you could just do your absolute best to get those clothes out of the dryer, that would be amazing.' I had some serious things, too, but it was funny. We had no idea."