Tori asks:

I have a logistics question for you around microphones/vow cards/ring exchanges. My first ceremony is fast approaching, and my couple have written their own vows. The plan at the moment is for me to hop out of the way during the vow exchange, leaving them to hold the mic for themselves while they read from their respective vow cards. They like the idea of ending the vows with the ring exchange (e.g. the bride would hold the mic for herself, read from her vow card, and wrap her vows up by presenting her partner with the ring. Then they would swap, and he would hold the mic for himself, read from his vow card and finish it off by presenting her with the ring). My concern is this – doing it this way would leave them with a lot to juggle – holding the mic and their vow card, plus a ring which they will be slipping on the other person’s hand at the same time. 

I guess my question is this: what do you find works best in the situation – do you tend to always hold the mic for the couple if they are reading from vow cards, or would you just avoid combining the ring exchange in with the vows, and instead let them do the vows with you out of the way and then come back in to feed them their ring exchange wording while holding the mic for them?

Excellent question Tori, and one I’ve spent a lot of ceremonies experimenting with!

When my couples write their own vows, I always print them onto a card to read from rather than have them repeat after me. The reason for this is that they don’t want to hear their partner’s beautiful words coming out of my mouth first; I did it once in my first year, he’d written a beautiful joke in his vows, and she laughed when I said it. Never again. So you’re spot on with the vow cards.

I spent a lot of ceremonies holding the microphone for them while they held their vow card, but with me standing directly behind the person speaking rather than in between the couple.

Vows read from a card with me holding the mic, but standing behind the groom

I did it this way because I always wanted the couple to be able to hold hands with their free hand. I feel sad when I see photos of couples not holding hands during their vow exchange; I feel like it’s such an intimate part of the ceremony, they should be touching.

But then at one of my OPD sessions in 2017 a couple of lovely celebrants showed me there was a way they could hold the vow card, the microphone, and be touching, and I could get out of the way altogether!

Vows read from a card with me out of the picture!

They face each other. With the hand closest to the guests they hold the vow card. With the hand furthest from the guests they hold the microphone. The partner holds the hand holding the vow card. Hopefully that makes sense!

But you’re right, adding the rings in to that equation makes for a lot of things to juggle. If they’re saying words with the rings, I just separate them out from the vows altogether, so after the vows are finished I come back behind them, I get the ring bearer to come behind them and open the ring box for one partner to take the ring out and put it halfway on the other’s finger, and then I stand behind them again to feed the ring wording while they’re putting the ring on.

Ring exchange with me feeding the words and holding the mic

My suggestion would be to separate the rings out if they’re okay with that, especially if there’s ring wording to go with the exchange. They really need both hands to put the ring on anyway – one hand to hold the other’s hand, and one to hold the ring, as in the pic above. And if there’s words to be said that go with the rings, it will be impossible for them to hold the ring, card with the words, and microphone at the same time. That sounds like a recipe for disaster! Explain the logistics to them and why you’re recommending that.

If they really want to end their vows with the ring-putting-on, and there are no words that go with the rings, I would suggest they don’t get the ring until they’ve finished saying their vows. So they hold the vow card and the mic and each other’s hand, say their vows, and then when they’ve finished speaking the ring bearer comes forward with the ring box, they take the ring out and put it on the other’s hand with no words.

I have actually scripted that I would do that before, but each time I’ve gotten so caught up in the beautiful vows that I’ve completely forgotten the rings in between the two sets of vows, and just done them in my normal place, both being exchanged at the same time after the vows are said 🙂

Also just a tip with the rings, and this is my personal preference (I know some celebrants are the exact opposite to me in this regard). I always insist the rings are in something (a bag, a box, on a pillow, whatever), because loose rings are another recipe for disaster (try saying that to a gay male couple and watch them try not to snigger). Then my rule is that neither I nor the ring bearer (or best man or whoever has the ring/s) touches the actual rings, then we can’t get in trouble if they fall on the ground. I have the ring bearer come behind the couple, open the box, and have the party take the other’s ring out, then the ring bearer goes back to the side while they put the ring on and say the words, and vice versa. I hope that makes sense!