Creating Special Wedding Memories with Traditional and Non-traditional Vows and Readings

Photo credit: Studio KSD

When two individuals join their love and lives together in marriage, their wedding vows begin their unique journey as a couple.

There are plenty of non-traditional wedding couples in the New York metro area. However, many couples have been looking forward to hearing and saying the traditional religious wedding vows and prayers they have grown up with. This is your time to feel special and united with millions of other couples married over hundreds of years — a part of something historical. Sharing traditional, well-known vows helps couples feel strengthened and connected to each other and to the other married couples important to them. Married wedding guests may be remembering and re-living their own vows as they watch and listen on your big day. Traditional vows are a familiar set of promises and statements that have stood the test of time:

Traditional Christian Wedding Vow:
I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Traditional Jewish Wedding Vow:
At a traditional Jewish wedding, these words may be said in Hebrew as the couple exchanges rings: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

You may also find inspiration — and true expression of your feelings — from cultures other than your own. At Brooklake, we are masters of traditional Indian weddings, where for example, couples often opt to enhance their Hindu Sacred Seven Vows ceremony by adding contemporary American elements.

On the other hand, many couples move away from typical wordings and focus on original, unique readings and vows to express your specific feelings and your personal journey. These fresh and personalized vows will also grab the attention of wedding guests, who are hearing them for the first (and only) time. Or maybe you and your partner have found someone else’s vows that say it perfectly for you, such as a famous historical family, or even a marriage made in literature.

Do you remember which popular fictional television show these vows are from?

  1. “My prince, my soulmate, my friend,” and “You are the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.”
  2. “You’re not only the love of my life, you’re my best friend.”
  3. “You’re sweet, caring and you even created an egg dish and named it after me.” (A little personal humor works, too!)

Modern couples who want to enhance tradition and also reflect your new couple-style might select contemporary poems or song lyrics they have enjoyed together, such as:

You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

~ “All of Me” by John Legend & Toby Gad

Note, that if you want to use your own wedding vows, or supplement your traditional religious vows, you may need your officiant’s approval to add or change the actual ceremony.

When are the best moments to read your own words at your wedding?

Saying the vows within your wedding ceremony isn’t the only time when couples can reveal inspiring words of love and commitment, promises and hopes. The experienced and discerning wedding planners on your Brooklake team will help you set aside time for opportunities throughout the day for pre-planned toasts and readings. At Brooklake we only host one event per day in our spacious venue, which offers couples and dressing suites, separate cocktail room, a lovely outdoor veranda overlooking scenic hills, a serene lake and meandering romantic pathways – even a stone bridge perfect to pause and share spontaneous secrets. With that kind of privacy as the only wedding or event at Brooklake, you’ll likely also find yourselves with a few impromptu moments and places to share your feelings, whether you’ve prepared something formal or are inspired by the magic of the day. Together with your wedding photographer, Brooklake event specialists will curate a flow of the most intimate and personal moments imaginable for your northern New Jersey wedding.

But don’t just take our word for it. Listen to a real review from Yelp:

“The venue itself and grounds are stunning, making for the perfect outdoor ceremony. Peter (Director of Catering) and his staff are kind, professional and accommodating. From the moment we met Peter we instantly felt comfortable with him. He was very responsive and flexible throughout the whole planning process, paying close attention to our every want and need for our special day. The entire day of staff including Edith (Bridal Attendant), Bea (Parent’s Attendant) and Maury (Maitre’d) was incredibly attentive, and we are so grateful for all of their efforts to make sure our day went seamlessly. Our guests are still raving about how wonderful the food was, and how beautiful the venue was. It truly made for gorgeous pictures! We would highly recommend BCC as a wedding venue — they will not disappoint!!”

You may want to read letters you’ve written to each other the night before your wedding, as a final good-bye to your “single” life and “hello” to married life. Then, the next day, if you choose a first look in your wedding attire, as many New Jersey couples do at Brooklake, consider reading a small poem to each other or sharing a special memory or vision for your shared future, to make the moment even more special. Just a few minutes speaking tenderly to each other will allow you to linger in thought and conversation after you visually take in each other’s presence at the first look. The Couples Suites at the Brooklake are ideal for this escape – our private, elegantly appointed rooms also make beautiful photo locations.

Liz and Alex’s wedding, as recalled by Anne Molnar Photography:

“During the ceremony, Msgr. George likes to share his personal experience with the couple during marriage prep, honor their love for each other and read to the audience “love letters” that they both wrote explaining what they love most about each other. This moment is a highlight for everyone because it’s such a profound tribute to love and commitment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church as Msgr. read the words written by Liz to Alex and Alex to Liz.”

Just before you are introduced as a married couple at your reception is another fitting time for special words while you are briefly alone — consider whispering lyrics from a favorite song that is special to you but you didn’t select as your first dance. After, throughout your wedding reception there are numerous times to share original words to express how you feel about each other, what you love about each other, why you feel so confident choosing each other as life partners, and promises and hopes for the future.

Here are some popular moments that can be set aside for planned readings at a Brooklake wedding:

  • at the blessing that begins the party, or the transition from your on-site wedding to reception
  • during the band or DJ’s scheduled break
  • pausing to share during the cake-cutting
  • in-between honored family member dances
  • keeping guests focused while photographers arrange them into picture poses
  • at the blessing that ends the party

Invite your guests to also share their sentiments… traditional roles such as Best Man, Maid or Matron of Honor, your parents and siblings… all have had roles at the microphone reading from paper notes or cell phones what they don’t want to forget. You can also have your Brooklake wedding planner invite other guests to be spontaneous for numerous, anytime toasts and memories!

At Brooklake, we have many indoor and outdoor areas that welcome you to share moments like this with small groups of wedding guests such as your parents, grandparents, or the close friends who’ve seen you through dating and engagement. Outdoors our meandering scenic walkways, cozy fireplaces and lakeside vistas allow you time to talk and listen. You can do the same indoors when you pause to gaze at each other next to our elegant grand piano or escape to one of our suites while your guests have time to dance.

“The facilities are beautiful both indoors and out. The wedding was held under the tent on the patio (with over 200 guests), and guests had the option to return there during the reception if they wished. The grounds provide several good spots for photos with beautiful backdrops. There are bridal and groom suites, and there is also a room off the cocktail party room where the bridal party could gather after the ceremony.” (Tod C.)

What else can you read besides religious verses?

Some couples might write their own vows in private to surprise each other on their wedding day. Or they may write their own vows together as an extra special date night before the wedding. Either way, writing your own vows — while joyful and intimate — can still be daunting. Luckily there are plenty of ways to jumpstart your creative, and romantic, writing flow. Start with a quick internet search for “non-traditional wedding vows” that will yield dozens of websites, magazines, blogs and even writers-for-hire with hundreds of tips and ideas.

There is even a Native American wedding prayer that has found its way into modern weddings:

Apache Wedding Prayer

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Every wedding makes a statement at Brooklake

Tried and true or unique and new, wedding vows and readings are quite powerful — whether you have a religious or civil ceremony. And whether your ceremony takes place in a house of worship, or at your wedding reception venue — such as under the pergola overlooking the stunning lake and gardens at Brooklake in Florham Park, New Jersey — any setting you choose is a perfect place to share words of love and hope no matter who writes them and where they come from. Contact us today to partner with your dedicated event planner and start on your journey.

Answer key: 1) Friends, 2) Big Bang Theory, 3) How I Met Your Mother