As you count the months until your wedding date, you will likely start to focus on your ceremony and vows. But have you wondered who traditionally says the wedding vows first and why it’s done that way?
The exchange of vows in your ceremony is the magical part of the service when you hear your loved one say vows in front of your guests and family for the first time. Their words may bring tears or laughter, but we are confident to say that this romantic moment will forever mark your hearts.
However, what if the “traditional” order of vows isn’t appropriate or doesn’t work for your situation – are there alternatives? Read on for a little history on the tradition of wedding vows as well as tips on choosing the best order for you and your partner.
What is the traditional order of vows?
What is known as the traditional order of vows is simply the way marriage ceremonies have been performed in a patriarchal religious society for centuries; the groom first pronounces his marriage vows. It is important to understand, however, that in these societies, men were the heads of families, tribes and clans. Women, while not seen as equals, were sometimes seen as possessions or inferior beings to men. In many sacraments and religious wedding ceremonies, the groom takes his vows first.
In today’s world, this order could be interpreted as a declaration of male superiority. In addition, the traditional order does not take into account same-sex couples. If you are getting married in a church, open a dialogue with your clergy or priest about it and ask if you can change the order if you wish. If you are married into a less restrictive religion, ask your member of the clergy. Most lay or non-denominational officials will tailor your vows to whatever order you want.
How to decide who goes first
Times are changing and what is considered a traditional wedding is shifting from a patriarchal format to a more neutral and egalitarian ceremony depending on the preferences of each couple. Feel free to change the traditional order and delivery of the wishes if your circumstances warrant it. Here are some ways to help you decide who should read their vows first – and remember, there is no right or wrong way to say your vows!
Make that decision early! Your officiant will need to know how to organize the script for the ceremony before the wedding day.
Stay true to tradition
For some heterosexual couples, the traditional “groom comes first” is perfect for them and their ceremony. Culture and tradition may play a large role in this decision, or they may not have a choice in the order of the vows due to their specific religious requirements of the sacramental wedding. So embrace the tradition and follow it!
Discuss your relationship dynamics
The personal dynamics within your relationship can make it easier for you to choose the order of your wishes. The best advice is always to choose what feels natural to both of you. The decision must be mutual. Talk it over !
Let fate decide
How about having fun and leaving the decision to fate? Choose to toss a coin, draw straws, play a few tricks on rock paper scissors, or roll the dice. For extra lightness, play a creative decision making game at your engagement party or communal shower, surrounded by your family and friends.
Say your vows together
The ultimate solution, if you are unsure of the order of your wishes, or prefer to speak to each other as fairly as possible, is to say them at the same time. Although not recommended for wishes that differ from each other, you can both answer a series of questions asked by your celebrant with “Yes” in unison or say the series of wishes “Repeat after me”.