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Tips on how to write your vows

The vow factor

for The Brooklyn Paper
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When Brighton Beach sweethearts Matt Katz and Aaron Lafrenz tied the knot over the summer, they wanted their love of folklore to be reflected in one of the most important rites they will likely ever share: their wedding vows.

The choice words were verbal stepping stones to their new lives together, and each spouse-to-be wrote his own soliloquy to recite in front of misty-eyed family and friends, squeezed in the backyard of the Ditmas Park home of Katz’s father — a popular venue for the family’s lively weddings.

Their vows wowed the crowd (read them below!).

“They supported our vision,” says Katz, a hat salesman and pop music writer and producer, who began his uplifting pledge with, “I can’t beat the feeling that I get when I am with you…”

Not to be outshone, Lafrenz, a hairstylist, re-read late American mythologist Joseph John Campbell before creatively putting pen to paper, finishing his oath with a cosmic invitation for his groom: “Let’s forever celebrate the mysteries of life and love…”

The exchange of vows is a vital part of the wedding ceremony, second only to the two words — “I do” — that seal the deal. But there is no one size that fits all.

One altar-bound pair looked to what some might regard as an unlikely source of inspiration for a same-sex couple — the Bible.

The Rev. Ann Kansfield wed her partner, Rev. Jennifer Aull, seven years ago in Massachusetts, and the pair — co-pastors of the Greenpoint Reformed Church — went the traditional route, selecting a passage often used by heterosexuals to express their love and commitment: I Corinthians 13:4–7, which begins, “Love is patient and kind … ”

“The vows we said worked for us and for our relationsh­ip,” said Kansfield.

East Village beaux Sean LeClair and Kirby Bolding took a different approach, sticking to the state-sanctioned script when they tied the knot in Brooklyn on July 24, the first day same-sex couples could marry in New York.

LeClair and Bolding say they didn’t have time to write their own vows because they rushed to the altar at Borough Hall after being picked in a last-minute lottery, but the court system did them proud with its graceful, appropriately tweaked, liturgy.

“The vows were really well done, very sentimental and respectful,” shares Bolding.

The depth and passion of same-sex marital declarations have struck those who have performed the historic ceremonies.

Rev. Dr. Lisa Robinson, pastor of the Church of the Evangel-United Church of Christ in Flatbush, said that the dozen or so couples that she has united all wrote their own vows, seizing the opportunity to make their love public after suffering years of mainstream abomination.

“They spoke from the heart,” Robinson said.

The spiritual leader recalls being moved by one gay couple’s outpouring of emotion during a pre-wedding consultation.

“They both were so eager and ready to declare their love, that even in their conversation with me they both just cried because of the pain that society had put on them,” said the pastor, who has insider knowledge.

She was in a same-sex relationship for 18 years before cementing it with a commitment ceremony.

“My vows to my partner were how grateful I was for her being in my life,” she adds.

Brides and grooms lost for words on their big day need not worry, according to one Brooklyn judge who became part of New York history when he volunteered to perform the first wave of same-sex marriages at Borough Hall.

None of the seven couples he joined in matrimony came prepared with their own pledges, said the judge, Acting Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bernard Graham.

They didn’t have to because he provided them with a template compiled by the court system.

“I just modified my pleasant, standard wedding vows,” says the jurist, who culminated the ceremonies with, “I now pronounce you married,” and informed the newlyweds, “You may now kiss.”

The approach to professing your love on your wedding day, oddly enough, is the same whatever your lifestyle, maintains one in the know.

The Rev. Tom Martinez, of All Souls Bethlehem Church in Ditmas Park, says he has found more similarities than differences between the dozens of heterosexual and same-sex couples he has helped to get hitched.

“It just underscores that the essence of the ceremony is just two people committing themselves to each other in a public setting,” he said.

Aaron Lafrenz and Matt Katz chose vows that spoke to their love of folklore and mystery:

Lafrenz’s vows

Matt:

Your love has opened my heart to the possibilities of the universe. It’s been a magical journey with you by my side, a journey with many adventures ahead.

I’ve found my sacred place at the beach and bliss swimming in the waves. I’ve felt the transcendence of stars and the rapture of being alive.

I vow my loyalty through whatever trials or suffering, to remain true.

May we dance to the rythmn of life, the highs and lows, and you always hear the calling to music.

Let’s forever celebrate the mysteries of life and love

Katz’s vows

I can’t beat the feeling that I get when I am with you. So I choose you, Aaron Lafrenz, to be my companion and husband.

Together, I believe we can accomplish great things, traverse the world around us, seek and discover while we may. Together, I believe we will share our love and the love of our circle, the circle we both continue to widen as we grow.

Together, I believe we will participate and enjoy the journeys many vistas, treasures and fruits, we will face choices, make gains and losses, check and balance, go crazy, and eventually, take our ease together nightly for as long as we are around to do it.

I pledge to walk beside you on this journey, to stand by you in peril and confusion, to cook for you as often as possible and to join you in sucking any pleasure out of life we are able, to face challenges, to listen hard, to night-swim with you, to be honest with you, to build us up when we are down, and enjoy the view from the top when we are up, as long as nature allows.

I’m here for you.

Many couples will chose to have a civil wedding at a City Hall or clerk’s office. Here are the vows that would be read in such instances. And guess what? They ain’t bad!

We are gathered here today to witness the exchanging of marriage vows of _______________ and ______________. If there is anyone present today who knows of any reason why this couple should not be married, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.

(Pause)

Do you ___________________ solemnly declare that you take __________­____________ to be your spouse [or bride or groom]?

Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and keep (him/her) for as long as you both shall live?

As a symbol of your promise to __________, please place the ring on (his/her) finger.

Do you __________­____________ solemnly declare that you take __________­__________­___ to be your spouse [or bride or groom]?

Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and keep (him/her) for as long as you both shall live?

As a symbol of your promise to ___________, please place the ring on (his/her) finger.

Inasmuch as you have consented to be united in the bonds of matrimony, and you have exchanged your wedding vows before all those present today, therefore, by the powers vested in me by the State of New York, I pronounce you married.

You may seal your vows with a kiss.

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