Why do cis-het men’s vows suck lately?

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In the past year, I've received several, and I mean SEVERAL, videos of terrible wedding vows spoken by cis-het men. When I say terrible vows, we're talking mean, horribly inappropriate, “want to die of secondhand embarrassment” kind of vows. And oh wait, it gets cringier. These wedding vows, or rather, wedding roasts, are often given right after their cis-het bride has spoken first, and delivered the most thoughtfully prepared vows in front of all their friends and family.

In the most viral (and objectively disrespectful) vow video I saw this year, the groom literally starts off by saying there are only two things he needs to be happy: a full belly and empty balls. Oh, and his mother was officiating.

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Cis-het men, are y'all ok?!

Cuz y'all aren't acting like you want to get married. Not with these kinds of wedding vows, at least.

I've been teaching and performing comedy for eight years, so I've been witness to a common trap first-time comedians fall into–getting laughs by putting someone down. It's not their fault. Our brains are so conditioned from watching media like Three Stooges or Tom & Jerry, comedy centered around seeing somebody get hurt or fail, then get back up again like they didn't just get an anvil dropped on their head.

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The difference here is that your partner standing at the altar is not a fictional comedic character that will return unscathed in next week's episode. I just think there are smarter and funnier vows that don't need to involve making fun of your wife's Amazon addiction, or how they're so annoying but also super hot so the annoyingness is tolerable.

Wanna know the secret to writing funny vows? I'm going to share with you something every successful, professional, and (mostly ethical) comedian knows…

You can be funny without being an asshole

Look, I get it, being vulnerable and sharing your vows in front of all your loved ones can feel scary. Using humor is a normal way to diffuse your nerves. I'm not saying you can't crack a couple of jokes in your vows, but there's a way to do it without the expense and embarrassment of others, like, idk, the person you're about to commit to for the foreseeable future.

How do I make sure my wedding vows aren't mean?

You might want to ask yourself these questions first:

  1. Does it make me look good at the expense of my partner?
  2. Does it make my partner or their interests look bad?
  3. Is what I'm saying true? Can other guests here relate to what I'm about to say?
  4. Is the joke I'm about to make going to give insight into why or what I love about this person?
  5. If roasting each other is part of your relationship, at least run the jokes by your partner first. In fact, I'd like to make it a law that your partner gets an equal amount opportunities to roast you back in their vows.
  6. If that's a no-go, share your vows with one of their loved ones, like someone who gets their humor. Keyword: their humor, NOT your humor. This person should have a good sense of what your partner will deem funny.
  7. If your vows are being recorded, years from now will you and your partner want to rewatch this part of your wedding day?

Why the rise in roasts at the altar lately?

When did delivering wedding vows turn into performing a mean-spirited stand-up comedy show? Why does it seem to be mostly cis-het men? Do some of these dudes think to themselves “Hey, it's a hot mic and a live audience, when else am I gonna get the chance to force people to laugh because it's my wedding day make this many people laugh?”

A theory I have is that with social media now being an inevitable part of weddings, the marriers are expecting to be filmed. So maybe there's an obligation to perform for the camera? Or perhaps there's societal pressure to have your wedding go viral on TikTok (a totally positive and fulfilling goal to have on your wedding day).

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“But it's obviously just a joke!”

You're absolutely right! But even though your intent behind the joke may have been harmless, the impact might be the opposite. In other words, your jokes have consequences, and regardless of how you intended them to sound, you're still responsible for those consequences.

I'll leave you with a hot tip from my comedy mentor:

If you're worried about sounding like an asshole, then you probably aren't one.

Jen Ellison at Second City Chicago

The smartest comedy punches up. It redirects and surprises. Add wedding vows to the mix. The whole point of vows is to make a public (or private) declaration of love to each other. So go ahead and make us laugh, but don't forget to share the reason you're standing at the altar in front of your favorite person!

Need help writing funny wedding vows? The Offbeat Wed Officiant Pack has a whole vow writing workbook for soonlyweds!

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Comments on Why do cis-het men’s vows suck lately?

  1. Weddings have been ground zero for cis-het grooms making fun of their bride for a long time.
    We’re just seeing more of it because, like you said, social media is now a guest at the wedding.

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