Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Vows are a-changing... at the altar or the beach

Callum Dodunski and Rachael Carder are writing their own vows for their October 13 wedding. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Callum Dodunski and Rachael Carder are writing their own vows for their October 13 wedding. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Traditional wedding vows are being passed over in favour of modern promises with touches of humour as brides and grooms opt to pen their own pledges.

According to a survey of 1200 Australians, one in three couples at the altar refuses to vow "till death do us part", and the trend is no different in New Zealand.

Waiheke Island marriage celebrant and Presbyterian minister Ewing Stevens said 75 per cent of his clients chose to write their own vows compared with the mostly traditional, religious ceremonies he conducted when ordained 55 years ago.

Made-up vows were more meaningful as long as they weren't frivolous, he said.

"Sometimes they put in vows about things that annoy the other partner. One that was a little bit frivolous was a promise not to buy all his shirts at The Warehouse and that was quite a good one."

Another time, a pilot promised not to perform another "loop the loop" with his wife in the cockpit.

During his time as a minister, Mr Stevens married up to 40 couples a year at the Western Eden Union Parish in Dunedin.

"They were probably more traditional then than they are today. Most of the weddings I take today are not in church. They're very free weddings. I do them on the beach, in parks, in private homes."

The 85-year-old said the change in attitudes reflected the different vows.

"The main thing is to have the vows real so they're not saying things they don't believe in."

Hamilton marriage celebrant Kay Gregory said couples still legally had to say: "I take you to be my legal husband/wife."

"But very few follow the traditional vows, which I think is quite nice because they are thinking more outside the square."

She said humour was often injected into matrimonial vows such as the bride promising to let her husband go fishing.

Betrothed put hearts on line

Rachael Carder and Callum Dodunski decided to write their own wedding vows because repeating what other people said did not appeal.

The Auckland couple, both 38, marry on October 13 at a Parnell restaurant and will surprise each other with their vows, though Miss Carder said hers were not humorous or gushy, but heartfelt.

"I just have some things I genuinely want to say to him and so I've tried to put them down. I've said I'll always be open and honest and truthful, those types of words."

The adidas supply chain manager Googled other examples of vows and said it took her an afternoon to get the words right.

"It was nerve-racking to start with. What if his is better than mine? Or what if they ... sound really stink?"

Mr Dodunski's first wedding involved traditional vows in an Anglican church. "So for me it's quite different."

The sales manager and father of three has left humour out of his modern vows and is saving it instead for the reception speeches.

Mr Dodunski said talking about his fiancee with their marriage celebrant helped him come up with ideas.

"Being the average Kiwi male, it was a bit difficult to get that emotive response going but it was certainly very helpful to say that and outline the key points."

Promises, now and then

Traditional Catholic wedding vow:

"I, Donald, take you, Deidre, for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."

Modern vow:

"You are my best friend, my true love and 'Georgy Girl'. I promise to keep supporting the local florist forever!"

"I love you because you love to cook and you don't mind cleaning up."

- NZ Herald

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