How Do You Say "I Do"?

By Robyn Passante

In recent months, celebrity magazines and gossip blogs have been buzzing about the supposed trend of celebrity wedding vow renewals. In June, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott featured their re-nuptials on the season finale of their reality show, "Tori and Dean." Heidi Klum and Seal reportedly renew their vows every year. And Khloe Kardashian and NBA star Lamar Odom just said "I still do" on their first anniversary in October.

Vow renewals are unique in that they center around something that's perhaps somewhat overlooked the first time around. When we talk about weddings (or plan them), we discuss dresses and caterers, cake flavors and party favors, colors and flowers. In the rush of attending to a thousand details, it's easy to overlook the vows themselves, yet without them, those other details hardly matter.

Brides tend to spend more time daydreaming about walking down the aisle than thinking about what they'll say at the altar. But there will be words exchanged - possibly the most important ones you'll ever say. If that sounds heavy, it should. And it shouldn't. These are important promises you're making, and the weight of your words will carry you through good times and bad in years to come.

But at the same time, you've already made those promises in your heart. They were made when you accepted an engagement ring, or when you worked up the nerve to propose, or even long before that. The wedding is simply the place where you say them out loud. So what will you say? The answer may depend on where you're getting married as much as who you're marrying.

Your first stop is to talk with your officiant. Most religions have guidelines (or rules) about what can, should or may not be said. The officiant will show you a sample or two of the wedding vows he or she typically uses, and let you know whether you're allowed to add or amend anything.

If you'd like to try writing your own vows, talk to your soon-to-be spouse first. Some people simply don't have the desire to pen their own, and others are too shy to even give it a try.

Don't let it be a sticking point; the last thing you want to give your partner on your wedding day is a nervous stomach (or a head full of resentment) for being forced out of their comfort zone on what is, don't forget, their special day too.

Whatever you decide to use, revise or write from scratch, there's no need to memorize your words before the big day. But you should at least read them beforehand, even if they're the tried-and-true "for better for worse, for richer for poorer..." vows you've heard a million times. Because the day you say them out loud to the love of your life, those words will sound different and feel different and be different than ever before.

And the moment will pass in such an emotional blur that you might not remember really saying them at all. If that's the case, don't fret: You can always say them again a year later, just like Khloe and Lamar.

Robyn Passante is the author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Wedding Vows and The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Wedding Etiquette.