For the first time since I can remember, the couple at yesterday’s wedding recited their vows from memory. The priest held the book at the ready, but their eyes were on each other.
I’ve noticed a huge variety in clergy witnessing weddings at my parish the past four years. We’ve had six priests on staff in the past four years. And for the occasional wedding, we get an occasional other priest. They all conduct vows with great variety. Some stand between couple and altar, some between couple and people. Some insist on mic’ing themselves stating the vows; others the couple.
Most couples these days prefer to repeat after the priest or deacon. I don’t remember the last time I noticed a couple getting questioned about their vows and responding “I do.”
Shortly after our engagement, I pressed my wife-to-be to memorize. She acceded, but on the condition that we practice daily from decision time till the wedding day. And so we did. But at the moment of the vows, the pastor held up one finger. I thought, “Oh, Father Russ, one finger. We’re number one.” The finger went to the book, and looking at my beloved, I knew it was time to begin, “I, Todd, take you, Anita, to be my wife …”
In the frequent renewal of vows we celebrate* the memorization has come in handy. No more nervousness. With nearly seventeen years, the vows have become familiar. They are now reinforced by years of joys and sorrows.
Whether or not a couple vows from memory on the wedding day, memorizing vows is still a good idea. Anybody else in the commentariat?