Vows, Love Letters, Speeches: How they differ

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (16/01/2024)
Categories: | Vows  |
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                    rings on a stack of love letters tied up with red
                    ribbonIf you're considering the various ways to express your love on your big day, you may be curious about the difference between vows, love letters, and speeches and  what role each could play on your wedding day.

Each has a place, a role, and a distinct function. They don't overlap, so it can be useful to work on them at the same time, because that makes it easy to ensure that there is no confusion!

The primary characteristic that distinguishes each from the others is intended audience and expectations around privacy.
  • Love letters are private communications with an intended audience of one, the person to whom they are written.
  • Vows are also private expressions of commitment, made with the understanding that they will be witnessed by others.
  • Wedding reception speeches, on the other hand, are personal tributes to one or more people not only made in front of everyone present, but they are addressed to everyone present, because they always conclude with asking everyone to raise a glass in a toast.



Firstly, your vows do two things
  • The legal part of your vows creates your marriage. In Australia the words you say are mandated by the Marriage Act, and include both you names, so there  no doubt about who is marrying who! In other legal jurisdictions all that may be required is a simple I Do in answer to a question posed by the officiant (celebrant).
  • The personal part of your vows are the promises you make. These words carry immense emotional weight but no legal weight.

Secondly, your personal vows can be the tried and true for better, for worse promises, or you can write your own. Either way, if you choose to incorporate personal vows, their power lies in their focus on the behaviours you commit to. Vow writing advice routinely suggests that you compliment your partner and share some anecdotes in addition to making promises.

But that advice assumes that your marriage ceremony will be a standard ceremony or a ceremony that has restrictions as to the choices you can make and the input you will have. Both of which are what you can expect if marrying in a religious ceremony or at the Registry Office or in a Courthouse.

When you marry in a celebrant-led ceremony, no restrictions on content or input apply. So your first task is to decide which type of ceremony you will be having before you start crafting your vows.

Love Letters

Love letters can be written on paper, or sent as an email or text. Many couples choose to exchange love letters on their wedding day, either to be read in private before the ceremony, or occasionally to be read aloud during the ceremony.

A love letter is a beautiful way to express appreciation of everything your partner brings to your life and to express your love and gratitude   In many ways they focus as much on you, how you feel, how your partner makes you feel, as on your partner.They can be as brief or as lengthy as you wish, though if you plan to read them aloud they should be kept brief.

The most important aspect is that what you write comes from the heart.

Wedding Reception Speeches

While speeches include words of wisdom and congratulations, their main purpose is to entertain the guests while expressing appreciation of the person or people the toast at the end will be addressed to. Humour is expected. Emotion is also expected. Striking the right balance between the two is key.

Related information

Thanks for reading!

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                      Jennifer Cram
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