Vows are a-changing… at the altar or the beach

NZ Herald 5 Oct 2012
Traditional wedding vows are being passed over in favour of modern promises with touches of humour as brides and grooms opt to pen their own pledges.

According to a survey of 1200 Australians, one in three couples at the altar refuses to vow “till death do us part”, and the trend is no different in New Zealand.

Waiheke Island marriage celebrant and Presbyterian minister Ewing Stevens said 75 per cent of his clients chose to write their own vows compared with the mostly traditional, religious ceremonies he conducted when ordained 55 years ago.

Made-up vows were more meaningful as long as they weren’t frivolous, he said.

“Sometimes they put in vows about things that annoy the other partner. One that was a little bit frivolous was a promise not to buy all his shirts at The Warehouse and that was quite a good one.”

Another time, a pilot promised not to perform another “loop the loop” with his wife in the cockpit.

During his time as a minister, Mr Stevens married up to 40 couples a year at the Western Eden Union Parish in Dunedin.

“They were probably more traditional then than they are today. Most of the weddings I take today are not in church. They’re very free weddings. I do them on the beach, in parks, in private homes.”

The 85-year-old said the change in attitudes reflected the different vows.

“The main thing is to have the vows real so they’re not saying things they don’t believe in.”

Hamilton marriage celebrant Kay Gregory said couples still legally had to say: “I take you to be my legal husband/wife.”

“But very few follow the traditional vows, which I think is quite nice because they are thinking more outside the square.”

She said humour was often injected into matrimonial vows such as the bride promising to let her husband go fishing.

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