One question I always ask my couples is if they plan to write and read their own vows for their ceremony. Whether or not to include vows is a personal choice - and vows are very personal. These are your promises of commitment that you are making to one another, ways in which you have successfully arrived at the altar and are agreeing to bind your life to another, as well as what you will do to continue to nurture your relationship once married.
And then there are the I Do’s, which are often confused with vows. To put it simply: I Do’s are a declaration of consent, where the couple is agreeing to be legally married. In order for the couple’s marriage to be legally recognized, the I Do’s must be spoken aloud by each consenting party and witnessed by a third party (in most states).
Since the vows are not a declaration of consent, they are optional. Couples can make the choice to include them in the ceremony, or not! Like I mentioned over in my other article 10 Ways To Customize Your Ceremony, some couples may simply not want to include vows or perhaps do not like public speaking, feel their vows are too personal, or are afraid of being too emotional. In the latter cases, exchanging vows can be outside of the ceremony - like during the first look or at a later time, in private.
Hopefully that clears up any confusion around the difference between the two. If a couple does decide to write and read their own vows, I am always happy to offer pointers!