David Busby illustraion
Ah, Google. Entering "instant wedding vows" in a search brought me to a homemade Web site circa 1999, instantvows.com, and its sister site, ultimatespeeches.com. Quick, go there now and save yourself the time, effort and sincerity of writing your own timeless words. No? Don't want to lock in your future according to some prefab, acid-washed, downloadable, mawkish tripe? Keep reading, then.
Obey … cherish … for richer or poorer … lawfully … until death … If vows were pop radio, these words would be tunes in heavy rotation. Yet, no one really uses these not-so-bon mots in a marriage. Instead of following the same script that's been exercised for ages — from Elizabeth Taylor's eight aisle-strolls to every soap-opera knot-tying — inject your vows with meaning and relevance that will actually resonate beyond the reception. Pick some from this hit list: compromise; affection; compassion; cold beer; understanding; forgiveness; breakfast in bed; fidelity; friskiness; chocolate; change; solidarity; low-interest, fixed-rate mortgage.
If you and your beloved are the types to write your own vows, you've likely already broken some other time-honored wedding traditions, too: ixnaying the tissue paper in the invitation, for instance; trading the bridal shower for a coed barbecue; or living in sin (never a bad idea, in this gent's opinion). In that case, go for it, and look to infuse the ceremony and the entire wedding weekend with touches bespeaking your personalities and connection.
In my own case, I never liked the idea of the hi-bye-nice-to-see-ya, pass-through fly-by of hitching that brought loved ones from the four corners, only to have them depart 16 hours later. Nay. Thus, we set up the affair as a full weekender: rehearsal dinner and late-night frolic on Friday; big gig on Saturday; and postnuptial croquet soiree on Sunday, complete with leftover vino and vittles. This way, I saw Uncle Vinny at least thrice and got a chance to revel in the post-game wrap-up that included a hushed, saucy tale involving our officiant and the maid of honor.
Back to instantvows.com. Ryan Ringold, president, claims, "You Can Quickly And Easily Get Your Hands On Warm, Loving, Proven Wedding Vows In Just 3 1/2 Minutes!" The regular price of $34.95 has been halved — whether due to the economy, or the fact that the U.S. divorce rate means that Ringold may get another $17 out of you down the line, remains to be seen — and "Over 99 Pre-Written and Time-Tested Vows" can be yours for pennies a vow. Again, I ask, why you've even read this far down.
The short of it is this: There are two parties privy to the vows, the couple and the witnesses. The witnesses are there to make sure no one's under duress, but aside from giggling at over-sentimentality, flubbed cues or grammar gaffes, no one cares about the vows but you. So make them about you. "Do you promise to keep those rock-hard abs?" may be a touch cavalier and shallow, but what's wrong with, "Will you remember, even when the winter's come, that there's always a sunny place between us … and I don't just mean our upcoming honeymoon in Maui?" I do … and so should you.