Want to write your own wedding vows but it seems like a daunting task? Trust us, it'll be worth it when you're up at that altar. Here are some tips to help get you through it.
1. Agree on format and tone with your fiancé.
Discuss and decide how you want your vows to come across. Do you envision them as Poetic and romantic? Humorous? Be sure you 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?
2. Read several of vow examples for inspiration.
We suggest that you begin by reading traditional vows from your own religion if you practice a certain faith, as well as not traditional ones as well, to see what strikes a chord with you. Incorporate elements and inspiration from 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.
3. Make some 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 juices flowing. Here's a 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 did you think when you first saw your fiancé?
When did you realize you were in love?
What do you most respect about your fiancé?
How has your life gotten better since meeting them?
What about them inspires you?
What do you miss most about your fiancé when you're apart?
What qualities do you most admire in one another?
4. Come up with a few promises.
They're called vows for a reason, so the promises are the most important part. We recommend including promises that are broad in scope, such as 'I promise to always support you,' as well as very specific to the two of you, like 'I promise to say "I love you" every night before bed.
5. Take out anything too cryptic or potentially 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. This means put a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and any obscure nicknames or code words. Really think about how your vows will sound to you ten years from now. Perhaps have your wedding planner, trusted friend, or family member read it over ahead of time for feedback, if you're okay with sharing your vows beforehand.
6. Avoid clichés.
Ok! Now that you have your first draft, it's time to make some edits. Borrow from poetry, favorite books, religious and spiritual texts, and even from favorite movies...just be careful not to let someone else's words overpower your own. You want your vows to sound like you. Make sure they relate to your relationship. This won't happen if every word is borrowed from other sources. If you find yourself relying on cliché phrases to get your point across, we suggest coming up with a specific examples from your relationship that have a similar message. For example, instead of saying, "Love is blind," you might say, "You'll always be the most beautiful person to me, whether you're in a T-shirt and jeans or dressed to the nines."
7. Shorten your vows to one to two minutes, max.
Your vows are important, but that doesn't mean they should go on and on. When something is said in a very meaningful way it doesn't require reiteration. Select the most important points instead. If your vows are running longer than two minutes, make some edits by putting some of your more personal thoughts in a love letter to be delivered to your fiancé on the morning of your wedding.
8. Write it all out.
Now that you have notes, you're ready to establish the structure and write your first draft. Always begin with an affirmation of your love. Then, praise your partner, offer them your promises and close with a final vow or declaration of devotion. Another tactic you could take would also to begin with a short story, follow through with your promises and then circle back to the story at the end.
9. Practice out loud (seriously!).
It might sound a little awkward, but this really is the best way to prep. However, when you practice your vows, don't just do the same thing over and over. Say them out loud and listen each time. Your vows should be easy to say and sound naturally conversational. As you read them aloud, listen for any tongue twisters or super-long sentences, then cut them. This is also the best time to practice your delivery. Stand straight, imagine yourself looking at your spouse and, if it feels right, use your hands expressively. Be sure to only use small gestures, however, as larger hand movements come off looking more like you're flailing about on your wedding video.
10. 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 free of cross-outs, arrows and notes. Be sure to give some thought to your presentation as well because all of it will end up in your photos. A nice note card that matches the wedding colors, a vow book or small notebook is best. You can handwrite it or cut and paste the computer print to fit on the page. This also makes a nice keepsake to display in your home later on.
11. Have a backup plan.
With some couples, we have found that the are simply too emotional to speak. (It happens and it is absolutely ok!) We recommend having your officiant either prompt you by quietly saying the vows first or reading your the vows on your behalf.