Our Unceremonious Ceremony: yes, you can improv wedding vows!


Guest post by Danielle
This is me drawing an X on the spot where my husband would be getting his wedding ring tattoo

My partner, Matthew, and I are aggressively low-key. Every step of our wedding planning, we questioned what we felt was truly necessary to us to celebrate our love and if anything felt less than necessary, we threw it out.

This means we had a super small backyard party with a few strings of lights, homemade vegan barbecue in crockpots, and a generous friend who harvested wildflowers from roadside ditches. We had no planned program… and we confused our more traditional guests by doing things spontaneously at random times, but they rolled with it pretty well. And it was perfect for us.

It also means I scrawled some vows on notepaper the morning of the wedding, and Matthew 100% winged it in the moment. What was said is so rambling and personal that I don't expect it'll be at all helpful for those working on their own vows. I'm sharing these really just to reiterate what Offbeat Bride is all about: I hope you get to do whatever you want on your day.

Decorate as much or as little as you want.

Eat what you want.

Invite who you want.

…And say what you want! You really only need to make sense to each other.

The "ceremony" started with each of us saying some thank yous to our guests. Then we hugged our parents and Matthew got my ring from my mom while I got his, uh, Sharpie marker from his mom (I was just gonna draw an X on his finger where he'd eventually get a tattoo like 6 months later).

Then we turned to each other for the part we had always described as "saying some nice things to each other."


Me: "Hold my hand. (he does) I love you. Thank you for loving me. (I immediately start crying) Oh no, I just started! (I just keep crying throughout the rest)

I'm so excited to stand in front of our community and tell you all about how you're amazing. The reasons I love you are so many, but I'll just say a few. You are strong of spirit. The world can be cruel and frightening, but you're always working to become a better, gentler, more compassionate you than yesterday. So many get complacent and give up, but you grow and grow. You are a soulful artist. The stories you tell and the art you make and the ideas you have change people – audiences and artists… everyone. You have encouraged and inspired me to make some of the most exciting art of my life. I always wanted to grow up to be an artist and now I feel like I really did it. (I lose my place and awkwardly leaf through several scraps of paper)

I love you because you're funny. I love you because you're thoughtful. I love you because you're a feminist. I love you because you cook for me. I love you because you're the best dad to our babies. And so many other reasons. Every day, I will tell you and show you my love. I will be the best friend that I can be. I will tell you every joke that I think of, even the half-baked ones. And I will shine my stubborn, bright, blindingly enthusiastic little heart light on you to make sure you never forget any of these things. I will hold you up. (I fumble to shove papers back in my pocket and throw them on the ground instead)"

Matthew: "Danielle. (Interjection from me: 'Oh, I forgot to say your name!') It's ok, I'm saying yours.

Um. Boy, we met at a really weird time. And, um. (long pause)

I usually feel really comfortable speaking like this, but this is probably the hardest one I've ever done. I can't say everything that's always in my heart, but you make me want to be a better person. Because you're the best person I've ever known in my whole life. You're the kindest, you're the most supportive for me, for all of your friends, for your family, for everyone. You are the breath that gives me life every single day. And every single day, I get to go to bed and know that you're with me and every single morning, I get to wake up and know that you're with me. It's just fucking great. Oh, I'm doing so poorly. (Interjection from me: 'You're doing great!')

When we were first seeing each other – and this is for you and for them – we were a couple of months in and I was having kind of a hard time and, Danielle, we stood out on your street in front of your old apartment. And you just looked at me with this face that said I can listen, I can understand, I wanna know. And it's the kind of thing that you usually hear and you're like, ok. Either "they're ready to be unloaded on – here's everything – blaaah", or… you run away.

And up until that time, for about 39 years, I ran away. But there was something that was so welcoming and open about you that I felt safe and I'm just… the luckiest. That I get to feel that all the time. And you're the best mom. And you say hi to every dog you meet on the street. And you talk in the animals' voices for me and you let me be stupid goofy around them and you don't ever – I don't know – you just always love it.

So, uh, I just feel like I am the luckiest person ever and holy shit am I bad at this. I love you so much. I love you more than anything in the whole fucking world."

…And that was it! We kissed and embraced. Our friends sang to us and everyone cheered.

It was unpolished and sweet and if Matthew's language offended anyone, they had the good sense not to say so.

And we both look back on it with so much joy because it was authentically, completely us.

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