wedding advice

Guest Post: How to Craft the Perfect Vows with Ceremonies by Bethel

View More:

Image: Cynthia Shipp Photography

I met Bethel at Wedding Wire World a few years ago when Kathryn Hamm asked me to be on a panel at the event. We clicked instantly and though she lives across the US from us, we remain engaged & connected through quick emails and social media. After my last newsletter, Bethel mentioned liking the advice portion I include in our monthly newsblasts and I asked if she would like to write one. Bethel is a deeply experience wedding officiant and her views on weddings & couples are so in-line with ours here at Capitol Romance, it seemed like the perfect fit.

The newsletter only allows for once sentence, but Bethel had a lot more to share, and so we thought a guest post on the topic of writing and exchanging vows would be useful for the readers here that are in wedding planning mode. I’ll let Bethel take it from here!

how to write your own vows

Image: Mathy Shoots People

How to Write & Exchange Modern and Perfect Wedding Vows | By: Ceremonies by Bethel

Remember, the exchange of vows is one of the key reasons for your wedding day and the vows are supposed to last as long as you do.  So I recommend that you put a lot of thought into what you want to promise and how you want to promise it. I think good personal vows answer these two questions:

– How do I feel about my life partner, and why have I chosen him/her?

– What promises do I want to make for our life together? 

So, most vows have a combination about why this is the person they love and have chosen, and what they are promising each other.  It can be as serious or as funny as you want, or typically a combination of both, but it should represent you and your relationship.

offbeat washington dc wedding church of the holy city write your own vows (1)

Image: Amber Mahoney

Essentially there are four ways to do vows:

  • A question or multiple questions that you answer either “I do,” or “I will,” (or even “I’ll try!”).
  • Vows that you say in phrases, as a “repeat after me.” {Note that I don’t recommend this style unless doing only the traditional vows}
  • Vows that you read yourself from a card or piece of paper (don’t try to memorize them!)
  • As a conversation, reading it back and forth to and with each other (also from cards).

Most couples do the type of vows described in #3 nowadays, as a way to personally express their feelings and their vows to each other, or a combination of #1 and #3, to allow them to say “I do” as well as express their own feelings – unless they hate to speak in front of people, in which case they do some version of #1 or #2.  Sometimes version #4 also takes the pressure off doing it all by yourself.

Another thing to consider is the typical length of vows.  Couples ask me and this is what I usually see:

  • If writing questions to answer – usually 3-6 questions
  • If a paragraph to read themselves – usually 150-225 words

Some couples do shorter, and some do longer, but this is the normal range that I see from my couples.  I definitely don’t recommend longer than 300 words, as that feels really long to the guests listening to you read them, in addition to the fact that you might be more emotional than you think, and therefore that is a long time to read while emotional.

modern intimate same sex DC wedding ceremony

Image: Douglas Pettway

So keep it succinct, personal, and true to who you are ~ three simple things to remember to create the perfect, modern vows for your wedding ceremony!

Pin It

Upcoming Event: Ask the Newlyweds with GayWeddings

gayweddings header

Join GayWeddings and a Panel of just-married couples at the WeddingWire HQ to hear first-hand what they learned from planning their wedding! “Ask the Newlyweds” will feature three, super cool same-sex newlywed couples that plan to have a laid-back, real-talk chat about what it’s REALLY like to plan a wedding, share some advice, and be free to answer questions.

The event is open to ALL couples (plus their crew!) but space is limited and RSVPing is required.

RSVP here!

The event will feature cocktails, the MOST delicious treats from Buttercream Bakeshop (seriously, the best) and tunes by DJ Tezrah. For more information check out the website. Hope to see you there!

modern same sex orange themed DC wedding (18)

Image: Mathy Shoots People

#CapRoTherapy Episode 1: Advice on Tipping Your Wedding Vendors


Well it’s FAR from perfect, but hey IT’S A START. After fighting with my iPad, my internet, and way too many video editing apps, my husband SAVED THE DAY and helped me put together the VERY FIRST episode of #CapRoTherapy!!! I hope you guys enjoy it. I am SO looking forward to seeing where this goes and what kind of questions I start to get from you guys. Ask away via email or using the #CapRoTherapy hashtag on Twitter,

FIRST. It’s Friday! So let’s start with some links:

The District Bliss Couples’ Social is on SUNDAY! Get your tickets for this super rad, not-a-wedding-expo, wedding planning happy hour! A new kind of Sunday Funday.

Last night we checked out BHLDN’s Wedding Fair in Georgetown and attempted our VERY FIRST Periscope video from it. Did you catch it?! We had 13 live viewers. So cool!

There’s just two early bird priced tickets left for our Nov 8th DIY Flower Arrangement Workshop with Love Blooms! Don’t miss out.

And now…. the very first episode of #CapRoTherapy:

Capitol Advice: 2 Reasons Why You Should Stop Bringing Gifts to Weddings

blogging personal posts

Image: This Rad Love

This one is for all you wedding guests out there. An observation I have gained through coordinating weddings, that I feel compelled to share with anyone planning to attend a wedding….

Stop bringing wedding gifts to weddings.

Now let me explain why, but first don’t mistake my words as me saying not to get couples a gift (instead of cash money or checks). Giving gifts as wedding presents, whether from the couples’ registry or not (though please use the registry…) is totally acceptable. I completely understand that you might not feel comfortable giving cash or a check, or that you’d prefer giving the couple something they might use/need/want in a more tangible form, but PLEASE don’t truck this gift to the wedding. Here’s why:

#1. Bringing a gift to a wedding means you have to lug this gift around until you find the gift table.

Perhaps you went all out and got them the KitchenAid mixer they wanted. That’s AWESOME, but PLEASE send it to the couples’ home before, after, or heck, even DURING the wedding. Do you really want to lug an 800lb mixer to a wedding? Do you want to have to remember to wrap it, bring it with you, and then carry it with you all through the ceremony until you find the gift table? You can’t tell me that is appealing. Couples don’t open gifts at weddings, so there really is no benefit to you bringing it TO the wedding.

#2. Bringing a gift to a wedding means someone has to lug this gift home at the end of the night.

As a wedding coordinator, I ask my couples: who has a car to bring your gifts home at the end of the night? They mostly look at me incredulously. They haven’t thought of that and ask me, “Do we really need that? People really still bring gifts? We didn’t register for anything…”. And I say, “Yes. 100%. Because I guarantee you at least ONE of your guests will bring you a gift (probably more) and at least ONE of them will be ginormous.” So to you the wedding guests that are considering bringing the gift you bought TO the wedding, think of my back, as I have to lug this gift back down stairs and think of the person who has to drive to the wedding so they can safely bring the gifts back home.

Shipping wedding gifts to the couple instead of bringing them to the wedding makes YOUR life easier AND the couples’ lives easier (ok and the wedding coordinator’s life easier). So let’s just all agree to stop bringing gifts to weddings.

Capitol Advice: My Mom & Friends Hate the Wedding Dress I Love

offbeat tattooed bride inspiration hairpiece makeup (5)

[Image: Desjar Photography]

Last week I got an email from a friend of mine (a wedding vendor who is also planning her own wedding). She asked for advice on something rather touchy – her wedding dress. I, personally, didn’t do the whole wedding dress shop thing – I knew EXACTLY what I wanted for my wedding dress, and I had my mother-in-law make it for me. So easy! But for most brides to be, the wedding dress shop thing is an EXPERIENCE and there’s a lot that can happen there.

But in this specific instance, the issue was that the bride tried on a dress she had loved online for 3 months, had her “this is the one” moment, then walked out of the dressing room to a bunch of “mehs” “nos” and “nexts”. It seems this dress was not the dress that her mom and best friend imagined for her, and now she was stuck. Does she go with the dress she loves, even if some of her nearest and dearest don’t like it ? Or does she cave to friends and family, picking one that they think looks good on her?

Lucineia & Adoniran Wedding Day

[Image: Daysy Photography]

Personally, I told her to go with what SHE loves. It’s HER wedding day, HER dress … and I think she will regret it if she settles. But I decided to run a little “ask the crowd” on my Facebook page on this topic, and the responses from past brides were OVERWHELMINGLY awesome! I thought the responses would be a great resource for anyone that might find themselves in a similar situation with their wedding (wedding dress, or styled detail otherwise). So let’s break it down.

It’s OK to be a little selfish here ….

“Get what makes you FEEL good. If you’re smiling from the inside out, it will radiate all day and they will see you were meant to rock that dress. As a photographer, I think you should be comfortable, you should be empowered by what you wear that day, you should rock what you’ve got. And it will show in the images how happy and blushing you really were. Too many people try and make the wedding about them. And while I appreciate that weddings are about community, and recognizing the support you have, and coming together as one… the dress is about you. Just you. Not mom. Not Bff. Not even your fiance.”

“Whose wedding is it? It should be the brides choice and no one else’s!”

“I’ll echo others comments; your wedding; your dress; YOUR CHOICE!”

” I wasn’t exactly a “this is MY day” kinda bride – but there is something to be said to feeling comfortable and happy with what you’re wearing – despite what other people may think.”

thrift store travel themed barn wedding virginia pictures (32)

[Image: An Endless Pursuit]

But make sure it’s REALLY “the one”…

“Go back to the shop all alone. try on 3 dresses with the one you love second or third. If you unconditionally love the dress (how you feel in it + how it fits) buy it on the spot and don’t look back. If you have ANY doubts, keep shopping…”

“Sometimes I get dressed and think I look incredible and then I see a picture of myself and I think “oh dear, what was I thinking”. So I have two thoughts here. First, is there a chance to maybe have one of your doubters take a picture of you in it? You can only see yourself from so many angles and MAYBE they are seeing something that you aren’t. Second, have you tried on the dresses that they like? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of trying things on for them to say “You know what? Maybe we were wrong about what we thought you’d look good in.”

“I say maybe go back with two other friends or maybe your partner’s mom and two friends- get their opinion and also try on more dresses. You might love the dress but it doesn’t hurt to get second and third opinions from people who can see it from all angles. Your wedding photos won’t all be front on, maybe the dress doesn’t suit you from the back or side which is what your mom/best friend are seeing. Of course if you do try on more dresses and you still love that one, then get it! My mom hated my dress the first time she saw it because the sample was massive on me, but I tried it on 5 times with different people and realised it was the one! She loved it once alterations started! Go with your gut but realise people close to you may have insights you can’t see!”

rustic gorgeous DIY maryland barn wedding (10)

[Image: A Lovely Photo]

The regret might be worse than disappointing your mom/friends…

“She will regret it if she settles. Some people hated my wedding dress and then ended up loving it when they saw it on me and in photos. Glad I didn’t budge. :)”

“I went with a very pretty but more traditional to please others, and regret it every time I look at my wedding photos. I am not a traditional person and I am bummed I didn’t let the dress represent me like I should have!”

“I caved to pressure from my mom and the dress seller about my dress. I wanted a something a bit non-traditional but went with one she liked instead. I wish I had stuck to my guns and gotten the dress that I really wanted.”

“Go with your gut. I settled for a dress, and then ended up buying the one I couldn’t stop thinking about anyway. I wore my dream dress to my wedding.”

vintage hollywood inspired wedding (14)

[Image: Kathleen Hertel Photography]

What do YOU think Romancers? Did our Facebook fans miss any other advice you would give (or experienced yourself)? Sound off in the comments!


Rad Things For Your Big Day & Life Together Go Shopping!