Meaning your vows (in front of an audience)

I have a confession to make. In the run-up to my wedding, the thing I was the most nervous about (out of everything – which is saying something) was the idea of saying my vows in front of all those people.

Yes, I’m fully aware that the whole point of having a wedding is precisely that.

However, I am not  a fan of PDAs (public displays of affection, for the uninitiated) and isn’t a wedding ceremony just the ultimate PDA?

Before the big day, I watched a lot of wedding films, shows, read a lot of wedding magazines – and the one thing that kept baffling me was how the bride and groom managed to be so wonderfully uninhibited to just pour out their emotion in front of an audience. Sobbing bride after sobbing bride, declaring their love in front of the whole world – without so much as a flicker of hesitation.

I was jealous.

You see, the PDA-phobia aside, I’ve always wanted to be able to do that – the big romantic gesture, the one time to go above and beyond and declare your love from the rooftops. If there was any appropriate time to do so, my wedding day seemed to be it. I also knew that I would probably look like this:

Image © Retro-Me

While John would (and, evidently, did) look like this:

Image © Satureyes 

The struggle started with writing my vows. While John’s vows were written in one day (with ease), I was struck down with crippling writer’s block. If I knew I was writing the vows just for John’s consumption, they would have been very different, full of in jokes, and our own private way of communicating that nobody else would understand. But written for public approval – well, that was a different story.

So what did I do?

I didn’t write an eternal declaration of love, roses and butterflies. I wrote about friendship, family, trust, fidelity, communication and commitment. Was it romantic? In my way, it was. Because I really, really meant every word. I was making promises about the very foundation of the rest of our life together – that, to me, is the soil from which all that romance will carry on growing and blossoming. I needed to promise to keep our roots strong, and not to get too cheesy or draw out this analogy too much, but as long as our roots were strong we would always be able to flower again. (Yes, I know, bleugh!)

So writing the vows was done and I was happy with what I had to say. There was just the small matter of saying them out loud in front of everyone I knew.

That bit was so easy.

Image © Satureyes

Because when it suddenly came my turn to walk down the aisle, I wasn’t thinking about how to manufacture that emotion for the benefit of the people watching – the minute I saw John, it was all there, emotions I didn’t even know existed until I reached the end of the aisle.

Did I cry? A bit – but I laughed more. I wasn’t a sobbing bride, choking out my vows – I was just full of joy – so much I could barely contain it.

I’ve talked a lot about not sweating the small things – but today, I think the lesson is: don’t sweat the big things either. The big things are the very easiest to get through, because when the time is right, they happen just the way they’re supposed to. And if you’re not a traditionally emotional or expressive person, express yourself your way, and not the way you think you’re expected to.

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