I completely forgot my wedding vows at the altar, and it was perfect

Guest post by jsloan
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I had decided a long time ago that traditional vows just weren't for me, and was committed to writing my own. My husband and I have no religion, and our relationship is very personal, and something I felt was best expressed in our own words. Although we have 70 people coming to our celebration in a few weeks, we had no actual guests at our wedding, so that gave us even more freedom to take the time to say what we really wanted to one another.

Since my husband was nervous about having to write something eloquent, we agreed that in our ceremony instead of “vows” per se we would have a line that said, “[Name], if you have anything to say to [Name], you may say it now.” This took some of the pressure off of having to come up with a list of promises or anything in particular, and let us be more free form in saying exactly what we wanted to the other person at that time.

I prepared and prepared. Both of us come from very dysfunctional families, so I wrote a beautiful speech about how this was our chance to choose our own family and how happy I was to use that chance on him. I also added a list of promises, that I'd stand by him, support him, always be honest and always be fair. It was really good, I think.

The problem was, when our officiant looked at me and asked if I had anything to say, I forgot the entire thing.

Instead, I looked my husband in the eye and said what was really the most important thing for me to say:

“Will you be my family?”

In that moment, all my eloquence left me, and the only thing I could think was how badly I wanted this man to be the family I'd never had, and for us to treat each other the way families should — with unconditional love and support.

Looking at him, I could see he knew exactly what I meant, and that that question from the center of my heart was better than any vow I could have written.

He said “yes.”

Has anyone else totally flubbed their vows? How did it turn out?

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Comments on I completely forgot my wedding vows at the altar, and it was perfect

  1. I have pressed pause on professional and life obligations today so that I can begin to write wedding vows. Wedding is in 18 days. For weeks I have had nothing in my head except the line, “I choose you to be my family.” We meet with our officiant on Friday to draft the ceremony, so I really appreciate your line.
    Your entire post was exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you for sharing.

    • Oooh, I think we must be wedding twins! (June 21?)

      I may now revise mine… I feel like maybe I missed a few things in what I thought I wanted to say!

    • This post and this comment made me all mushy. The last line of my personalized vows to my husband? “I choose you.”

  2. I can totally relate to both being from dysfunctional families and just wanting to be each other’s family, so your story got me teary. So sweet – perfect!

  3. I’m so worried about that happening to me, even if we have our vows written on note cards or something. I’ve always been terrified of talking in front of people, especially large groups of people. Taking business classes where we had to present stuff in college was a terrible experience for me because I always froze up.

    But thanks for reminding me that it’s perfectly okay to make something up, even if it’s short and sweet!

  4. I melted. Oh. I just want a big hug right now. I don’t know how to deal with all the cuddly fuzzy in my heart right now!

  5. I wrote my own vows, meticulously pondering each phrase before writing it down. Day of the wedding came, the pastor printed them out and asked me if I would like to took at them. So I did, but then I left them downstairs. And he didn’t have another copy. The time for vows came, and the three of us just stared at each other for a moment, mumbling about how the vows were downstairs. I ended up just saying what I remembered, and it was pretty good. Later on, a few people told me they just thought I was tearing up and that was the cause of the awkward silence in the middle of the ceremony. That’s just fine by me. No one has to know that I forgot my vows. 😉

  6. This made me verklempt! It’s exactly how I feel about my FH. So much so, this is the first time, I’ve commented on this site despite the countless hours I’ve spent ogling, planning and learning. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  7. When my husband proposed we were looking at buying a house. About an hour before the proposal he was talking about us “playing house” together. I said I didn’t want to “play” I wanted to actually have a house together. So when he started the proposal, he started by saying lets have a house together. It was very sweet. Like your being a family!!

  8. This just made me tear up. You are awesome. Yay on spontanous authenticity! That makes me think of Columbo, asking the most important investigational question right before he leaves so the suspect doesn’t expect it anymore and just knee-jerkly tells the truth. If you don’t think to much, your heart begins to speak.

  9. Omg I’m crying.
    That sentence hits me so hard, because it’s probably along the lines of what I would ask my boyfriend in the same situation if we make it to the altar someday.
    The best to you and yours <3

  10. I’m crying in Starbucks. Thanks for that :p

    I’m also stealing that “do you have anything to say” line. It’s perfect and I didn’t know it was exactly what I’ve been trying to think of until I read it.

  11. im getting married in twelve days and just burst into tears. We are focusing on becoming a family as well but the simplicity of this is just killer.

  12. I’m not getting married anytime soon…But bae and I are talking about the future so I’ve been perusing the internet…This made me burst into tears. It’s the core of what I want to say. How lovely and concise, and what a wonderful article. *sobs*

  13. Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful story 🙂
    Do you mind if I share your story with my couples who are struggling to ‘find the words’.
    All the best to your beautiful ‘family’ xx

  14. This legit made me cry. So sweet and perfect. You’ll always remember that moment and the exact words, and I bet most people couldn’t recite their lengthy, essay-like handwritten promises or flowery traditional vows by heart fifty years later. Reminder to us all that simple is often more heartfelt and beautiful <3

  15. I am a guy and found this while working on my own vows for my amazing bride (we are marrying tomorrow). Like the other comments, your story impacted me. To have such a beautiful and honest moment with all else stripped away is beyond perfect. I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world.

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