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Exchanging vows *before* the wedding ceremony

Published Wednesday, Jun. 30th, 2021


If you love the idea of writing and exchanging personalized wedding vows, but cringe at the thought of reading them aloud in front of every single person at your wedding ceremony, we have the perfect suggestion: 



Exchange personalized vows with your partner privately before your public ceremony. 



Sharing vows before the ceremony allows you to say just what you want to, at your own pace, without an audience. 


And if you’re planning a formal or religious wedding, exchanging written vows privately gives you the opportunity to create a quiet, intimate moment -- away from the pressures of family, friends, or tradition. 


Some couples choose a time right before the ceremony, before the guests arrive. Others plan something special a day or two beforehand (like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did ahead of their royal event). 


How to: 


First, decide with your partner if you want to write your custom vows together or separately, and if you’ll exchange them the day of the wedding or some time before. Leave yourselves plenty of time to work on them (ideally weeks, not hours, unless you’re a natural wordsmith). 


Next, decide whether you prefer to keep this sweet moment just between the two of you, or want your wedding officiant to witness your promises. 


If you’d like your wedding officiant to witness your private exchange in order to make your vows feel more ‘official’, bring this up with them early in the planning process. You’ll want to mention whether or not the exchange will be the same day as the wedding, and how much extra time (and cost) this will add to their usual responsibilities. 


Lastly, decide if you still want to include a vow exchange during the ceremony, and let your officiant know your choice. Consider using classic ‘call and response’ vows, or a shortened version of your written vows that will be appropriate for all guests. 



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