On Saying "I do"
There comes a time in the wedding ceremony where the parties to be wed literally declare their intention to marry. It may seem odd; you are in the middle of a wedding ceremony, why else would you be there? But this is no time for being shy, you need to proclaim it in no uncertain terms.
The declaration of intent
The declaration is required in some jurisdictions. It's included by tradition in others.
Depending on the order of ceremony that you use, there are different options. I am going to outline three ways of showing your intent below.
Speaking Your Vows From Memory
You can deliver your vows, which are a form of stating your intention to marry, from memory. In this scenario, you would say your vows to your beloved without any prompting. This is a lovely way to state your intention to marry this special person; while with any of these means you are speaking from the heart, in this way it appears to the guests as though you are speaking spontaneously. Note: I still recommend giving copies of your vows to your officiant just in case you get stuck.
But this is not without risk. Are you cool under pressure? If you think that the feels of marrying your love, or the sense of excitement of standing in front of the important people in your life will make recitation from memory a challenge, you have other options.
Repeating After Your Officiant
I want couples to know that repeating vows that your officiant says, as a prompt, is a great way to show your commitment and intent. It can lift the weight of memorizing your vows, leaving you free to focus on the magic of the ceremony. As an aside, if you go this route, still be sure to practice your vows, as this will help you repeat them without getting tongue-tied.
If you decide that repeating your vows is for you, make sure to give your vows to him or her in advance, so your officiant can practice.
Saying "I do"
Saying "I do" is such a part of wedding culture that "saying I do" used as shorthand for "getting married". It's another way to signal that you intend to wed. If you prefer to have your officiant do the work of the ceremony, he or she will read your vows in the form of a question, usually prefacing them with "Do you...". You then answer with "I do". It's classic and elegant.
You may opt to say "I do" once, after your officiant reads the entirety of your vows. Or, your officiant can ask you if you agree with each sentence within your vows.
Remember that your vows are a gift to your partner. They are your love and commitment in verbal form. Whichever format you choose, you will be speaking from the heart.