Friday, January 28, 2011

I Vow to Let You Scrub the Toilet in Perpetuity

'Tis the wedding pre-season. I have a lovely batch of Spring weddings lined up and am in dispatching advice mode. Examples include:

"Do not make that guy a groomsman - he has a BO problem."

"The chocolate fountain seems great until you see the flower girl pick her nose and try to chocolate coat the green treasure."

"Perhaps your parents should get that valium prescription now so it won't be such a shock to their systems when they pop 'em like tic tacs on the big day."

"No, I will not wear a robe that matches the flowers."

"No, I will not speak in the Princess Bride priest voice without $250 extra paid now (cash) and a note in the program that it was not my idea."

"Yes, I would like the salmon."

"One word I want you to consider prayerfully and deeply: ELOPE."

"Should the time come, Gawd forbid, I will not testify at the custody hearing."

Just kidding. I do have extra-adorable couples this year and I do believe that this is the first year that I am biologically capable of being their mother. Oh, heavens.

A question on their minds right now is whether or not to write their own vows. Here's my real advice on writing one's own vows...

When writing your own wedding vows you want to cover the following things briefly:
Who do you see your partner as:
"You are my lifeline";
"You are my true love";
"You are the one who makes me stop being such a jerk."

Next - what is special about your relationship:
"I want to wake up to your warmth beside me for the next fifty years";
"You make me want to see U2 another 20 times"; (I have a couple for whom this is a meaningful truth.)
"Our work with AIDS patients in the steppes gave me my calling and gave me your love";
"I wake up and go to sleep with a smile on my face and peace in my heart because you love me."
Now the core of your vows:
"I give to you my heart, my devotion, and my trust";
"I vow to be open to the changes that will come in our lives together knowing always that my life is best with you as my partner";
"I vow to be your dearest confidante, your lover, your cheerleader, and your companion through all the valleys and peaks of life."
Then a quick ending like:
"You are my greatest love and I want you to be my wife";
"I love our life together and I want to grow old with you";
"You have been my love and today we become a family."

The big no-no's on writing your own vows include:

1) Work it out between you as to how long they will be. One of my grooms was a very romantic and loving man who was uncomfortable in saying too much and wrote a lovely paragraph. His sweet and devoted bride wrote a page. They felt awkward during the ceremony. Uncomfortable shoes and fancy lingerie should be one's only wedding discomforts.

2) Don't make the Jots mistake. I wrote my own vows. I was 20 and my husband was about to go to war. I sobbed through every word and have felt like an idiot for the past 20 years. Can't say them without boo-hooing? There is no dishonor in hearing the officiant say the magic words, "Repeat after me."

3) No one wants to hear about your phenomenal sex life.

4) Keep the jokes to a minimum. This is your wedding - the symbolic event that recognizes a lifelong commitment. I am all for humor, imagine that. But too much humor in the vows makes the Vegas oddmakers start tipping the payoff toward the miracle of your reaching a 5th anniversary. And no jokes about your inlaws, your redneck roots, your shared Herpes, that hot groomsman, or your beloved's birth defect. None. EVER.

5) Have them typed days beforehand and practice them. My friend Todd gave his completely off the cuff and they were amazing. We are not all Todd. If you met Todd, you would know that almost no one is Todd and the world is a duller place because of it. But also... sadly, Todd is divorced.

We all know that the most important parts of marriage are left unsaid in the wedding. But from all of us who have been married 20+ years, please consider that the following are what your vows really say:

"I am hitching my life to yours from now on. We will be together through miscarriages, burglaries, cancer scares, cancer diagnoses, presidents we hate, presidents we disagree on, some craziness our families will pull, unemployment, the baby having to be hospitalized, your addiction, my addiction, our addictions."

"We will not kill each other when we move. We will sometimes have sex when one of us is not totally in the mood. We will clean up puke and feces from animals, offspring, and each other. We will worry ourselves into insomnia and silently cry ourselves to sleep so as not to wake the other. We will at some point think of each other as a really bad phase we were going through. We will change and argue and quietly fume and forget really important things."

"And we will get up every day and try again because what we feel for each other is the truest most genuine emotion either of us selfish, imperfect goof balls has ever experienced. I am not equipped for much of what the future will hurl at us but I will face every challenge with the goal of getting to the other side with your hand in mine."

"I will say I am sorry. I will bury the hatchet. I will just plain forget that nervous tic of yours. I will work to make you happy and I will work to understand what makes me happy. I will go to counseling with you. I will make you a birthday card. I will teach the children songs I made up about how great you are. When I am dying, I want your face to be the last vision I have. When you are dying, I will hold you in my arms until your last breath knowing that the greatest part of me dies with you."

"I love you. It is the messiest emotion I have ever had but I vow to rise to being a better person for you, for us."



Lizard Eater said...


Grace said...

Thanks for making me cry at work!

Seriously, though, if Andrew and I ever renew our vows, we will pay the extra $250 for you to say "Mawidge.... Mawidge is what brings us together." Maybe if you do that Andrew won't cry through his vows (again).

One Man's Opinion said...

Oh dear Alane...I would not be as happy a married guy if you hadn't done our wedding on ..ahhh hmmm oh over 6 years ago.
Michael Francis