Too Shy to Say Personal Vows? Or Not Allowed To?

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant ©
Categories: | Vows  | Wedding Ceremony |
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                              bride partially hidden behind a white
                              curtainPersonal vows can be a beautiful way to express your love and commitment to your partner.

But what if you're not comfortable with speaking in public or with sharing such intimate thoughts in front of an audience, or the type of ceremony you've chosen does not allow you to add anything to the approved vows?

If you're a shy couple looking to make personal promises I've got some tips for you. These tips apply equally to those not allowed to add personal promises to an approved ceremony.

The Legal Requirement


To make your marriage legal, the requirement for a civil ceremony, where your marriage is solemnised by a civil celebrant, is that each of you has to make a statement as required by the Marriage Act.

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (full name), take thee, (full name), to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner-in-marriage.
The good news is that there is a more modern version you can use:
I ask everyone here to witness that I, (full name), take you, (full name), to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner-in-marriage.
Beyond that, you have freedom to make any additional promises you like. The good news if you're shy is that you don't have to. Your marriage will be legal with or without additional personal promises.

If you are marrying in a registry office or courthouse where a standard ceremony is used, you may not be allowed to add personal vows.

If you're having a religious ceremony, you will be required to use the approved vows for your denomination. And you may or may not be allowed to make personal promises.

Some tips about making personal promises when you are shy


  • Keep it short and sweet. You can still make personal promises without going into great detail. Try something like, I promise to love you, support you, and be your partner in all things.
  • Read your promises. You'll be facing your partner, not the guests, so focus on them as you speak directly to them
  • Work with your partner to write personal promises you both agree on. That way you won't be worried about whether your partner will like what you are promising
  • Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your vows with your partner ahead of time so you feel more comfortable when the big day arrive

Too shy to speak, or not allowed to make personal promises?


How do you work around knowing you won't be comfortable speaking personal promises on the day or you are marrying in a religious ceremony that does not allow for personal promises?

Don't give up on the idea! Here are some workable (and romantic) alternatives
  • Deliver your personal promises to one another while you are getting ready.
    • Send handwritten card or letter they can read privately
    • Send text message or email they can read on their phone and keep
    • Share your promises in a personal phone call
  • Schedule a First Look and read your personal promises to one another as part of it
  • Schedule a First Touch, where you can hold hands but not actually see one another - stand on either side of a door, for example, or stand back to back, or round a corner where your photographer can capture both of you in photos but you can't see one another
  • Allow a few minutes for each of you to read the other's promises just before the ceremony starts. Delegate delivery to people who will be with you just before the ceremony starts. So, for example, the best man or celebrant could deliver the bride's vows to the groom while he is waiting at the altar, and the chief bridesmaid, chauffeur, or father of the bride could deliver the groom's vows to the bride before she makes her entrance. Adapt as appropriate to the couple and the choreography.

Remember, your wedding day is about the two of you and your love for each other. Don't let nerves or expectations get in the way of expressing that love in a way that feels right for you. Whether or not you choose to share personal vows  your commitment to each other is what really matters.

Thanks for reading!

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                        Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
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