1. The "giving of consent" is that part where the celebrant puts certain questions to each party, such as "Will you take Andrew to be your husband? Will you love him, support him, and be faithful to him, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?" The person replies with "I do" or "I will". This giving of consent is not legally required, but a lot of couples like the opportunity to say "I do". The wording of the questions can be varied as much as you like.
2. The legal vows. There is a legal requirement in Australia for vows to include the following words: "I call upon all those here present to witness that I (first party's full name) take you (their partner's full name) to be my lawful wedded husband/wife/spouse/partner in marriage." In fact, for a marriage to be legal, that's all you have to say! For those who like the ceremony to be "short and sweet" you don't need to say another thing. But if you'd like to make further promises to each other your celebrant will work with you to write something unique, personal, memorable, and which you will both treasure thereafter.
As your celebrant I can give you some samples of vows and help you to choose something meaningful, or to modify them to create vows that are uniquely your own. It is becoming more common for people to write their own vows, although many couples also like to include some traditional phrases.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Are there any traditional words or phrases which you'd like to include? For example, some people love phrases like "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health". When they are repeated after the celebrant they also have a certain poetic rhythm which contribute to the drama of the occasion, and because they are traditional they connect you to previous generations in your family which most likely said similar words at their weddings.
- What do you love the most about your partner, and what do you want the world to know about them? You've undoubtedly told them many times already already that you love them, but now to get to tell them in front of your closest friends and family, and to boast about their most endearing attributes.
A good place to start when writing your own vows is to write a love-letter to your partner. Tell him or her what you love most about them, what first caught your attention, what are the best things you've discovered about them since then, how they have transformed you as a person and changed your life, and what you hope to do together for the rest of your life. You don't have to send them this letter (although your first wedding anniversary would be a great time to exchange these letters). Instead, use it as base for summarising all those things into a few sentences which you would like to share with him or her, and with all your friends and family.
I recommend sharing this with your celebrant, who may be able to give you some helpful ideas regarding phrasing (and who will need to ensure all the 'legal bits' are included). Some couples like to work on their vows together, while others like to surprise their partners on the day. Either way works well, depending on what you want your day to be.
As your celebrant I would be delighted to give you some suggestions and vows to choose from or to use as a guide for writing your own.