I will love you if you're rich, I will love you in a ditch

By Teuila Fuatai

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Western Bay couples are using Dr Seuss-style wedding vows to add a light-hearted feel to their big day.

With lines like, "will you love him if he's rich and will you love her in a ditch", couples are rhyming their way into marriage.

Tauranga marriage celebrant Aaron Bloomfield said he was officiating an upcoming "Dr Seuss" ceremony.

"They emailed me the poem ... and I say something, then they say something and so on."

Dr Seuss-style vows are part of a nationwide trend towards personalised wedding ceremonies. A poem read at All Black Dan Carter's wedding has also become a popular feature at ceremonies around the country.

And a recent Australian survey of 1200 showed one in three couples are now refusing to vow "til death do us part".

Celebrant Jackie Brown, of Bay of Plenty Weddings, said the craziest thing she had come across was a couple who declared they loved one another as much as their pet dogs.

"This couple really loved their dogs and their vows were about how they loved their dogs and one another ... so this was very personal and very appropriate for them," she said.

"Another couple I married loved hunting and they had a great one-liner in there, something along the line of 'I will promise to clean your shotgun' which was quite funny."

Mrs Brown said the best wedding vows "came from the heart".

One of her favourite memories was of a man who started reading generic vows, stumbled on the long words so tossed the piece of paper aside and said "[bugger] it, I just love you".

Mr Bloomfield said he employed a love letter exercise to help couples wanting to pen their own vows.

"The guys always get the notion that he's just going to take the p*** the whole way, but the reality of it is the guy freaks out more than the girl about the vows.

"I get them to do this love letter exercise where they write from their heart to the other person, completely unedited ... how they feel.

"That gives them a sense of what they can pull out for their vows."

Nationally, 20,231 couples took the plunge last year - 703 in the Western Bay area.

And while wedding vows now come in a variety of quirky packages, one thing remains constant across all ceremonies.

"You certainly will never get the 'obey' word back in there," Celebrants Association of New Zealand's Doug Scott said.

Mr Scott, who has been officiating marriages for nearly 20 years, said most couples liked to mix the old with the new.

"In the past five-to-10 years, it went to very soft and romantic words and ... fun statements like, 'I will love you as long as you keep the fridge full'."

However, there's been a recent swing back to slightly more conservative wording.

"It's quite common to incorporate some of the traditional ideas with some of those more free-flowing ideas," Mr Scott said.

Saying vows off-the-cuff is becoming more trendy.

"Some couples have a few prompt words they have in mind and then they just speak it from the heart," Mr Scott said. "So long as the legal declaration is made word-perfect ... the vows themselves are promises made by the couple to each other."

Wedding attire and surname choice have also evolved over time.

"About five-to-10 years ago, there was a phase when grooms would turn up in jeans and a nice shirt," Mr Scott said.

"But now a bride wants to look like a bride and almost always the man is suited up."

Women were also more likely to take their husband's name now than a decade ago, he said.


- With Genevieve Helliwell

- Bay of Plenty Times

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