Tips for writing your own wedding ceremony vows.
Writing your own vows might seem daunting, but it’ll be worth it when you’re up at that altar. Here are some tips and tricks to get you through it.
Read lots of vow examples for inspiration.
Start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows from your own religion if you practice a certain faith, and others as well, to see what strikes a chord with you. Incorporate these samples into the original words you write or simply use them as a jumping-off point. Once you’ve found a few you love, consider what it is about the style that draws you to those vows in particular.
Agree on how you want your vows to come across with your fiancé.
Do you envision them as humorous? Poetic and romantic? Go over the logistics too. Will you write them separately or together? Will they be completely different or will you make the same promises to each other as you would with traditional vows? Some couples do a little of each. Finally, will you share them with each other or keep them a secret until the wedding day?
Jot down notes about your relationship. Take some time to reflect on your fiancé. Think about how you felt when you first met, what made you fall in love and when you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together. Write it all out to get your creative gears turning.
Here’s a handy list of questions to help get you started:
- Why did you decide to get married?
- What hard times have you gone through together?
- What have you supported each other through?
- What challenges do you envision in your future?
- What do you want to accomplish together?
- What makes your relationship tick?
- What were your thoughts when you first saw your fiancé?
- When did you realize you were in love?
- What do you most respect about your partner?
- How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate?
- What about them inspires you?
- What do you miss most about them when you’re apart?
- What qualities do you most admire in one another?
- Come up with one or two, or many, promises.
- Write it all out.
- Write out a short story and then circle back to it at the end.
Now that you have your first draft, it’s time to make edits. Borrow from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts, and even from romantic movies, but don’t let someone else’s words overpower your own. You want your vows to sound like you and relate to your relationship, and that won’t happen if every word is borrowed from other sources. And if you find yourself relying on cliché phrases (you know, those sayings that have been used over and over so many times they no longer sound genuine) to get your point across, come up with similar message but in your own words.
Take out anything too cryptic or embarrassing.
You’ve invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words. Keep in mind about how your vows will sound to you 10 or 20 years from now. Have a friend or family member read it over ahead of time for feedback, if you’re okay with sharing your vows beforehand.
Shorten your vows to one to two minutes, max.
Your vows are important, but that doesn’t mean they should drag on. Pick the most important points and make them. Don’t let it run longer than two minutes. Put some of the more personal thoughts in a letter or gift to your fiancé on the morning of your wedding and save any guest-related topics for your toasts.
Practice out loud (MUST)!
It might sound a little awkward, but this really is the best way to prep. When you are practicing try to say it with meaning, don’t just say it, put your heart into it. Listen each time—then do it better, keep in mind as you recite them, listen for any tongue twisters and super-long sentences, then cut them out. This is also the time to practice the delivery. Stand in front of a mirror and practice your stance and your hand movements.
Make a clean copy for yourself.
The paper you read from should be legible, so even if you’re working on it right up until a few moments before your ceremony, use a fresh piece of paper such as a nice note card that matches the wedding colors or a little notebook or pad. You can hand write it or cut and paste the computer print to fit within that. And it also makes a nice keepsake to hang in your home later on.
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