Writing your own wedding vows is one of the best ways to personalize your ceremony. If you are a little nervous about doing this, here are some suggestions and ideas to help make the process fulfilling and successful. The exercise of writing your feelings down about your future mate can be a wonderful, emotional, and meaningful experience and a way to gain more insight into your relationship.
1. CHECK WITH YOUR OFFICIANT
It is good idea make sure the Officiant you have chosen will actually allow personalized vows. If writing your own vows is really important to you, then this is a good question to ask when choosing an Officiant. Some celebrants and houses of worship may require you to recite a specific set of traditional vows. Once written, it is a good idea to give a copy of your vows to the Officiant prior to the ceremony, so he or she can understanding the timing and perhaps make some helpful suggestions.
2. GET INSPIRED
Start by reading both traditional and non-denominational examples of wedding vows to see what speaks to you. Borrow freely from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts — even from romantic movies or lyrics to songs. Jot down words and phrases that capture your feelings. You can incorporate what you find into your own words or simply use them as a way to get inspired.
3. DON’T PROCRASTINATE
This is SO IMPORTANT: Don’t leave writing your vows until the day before your wedding! You’ll most likely be too nervous, excited and distracted to give them the time and thought they deserve. Give yourselves at least a month and try to have them finished at least a a week prior. It is best to write your vows in a relaxed, not rushed, state of mind.
4. DECIDE ON A TONE
Before you start writing, decide what overall tone you want to achieve: Lighthearted, Touching, Poetic, Romantic? It’s up to you — the most important thing is that your vows speak to who the two of you are as individuals and together as a couple. Whatever tone you pick, the vows should, in some way, acknowledge the importance of the commitment you’re getting ready to make. One way to do this is to weave an inside joke into you’re your vows (for example: “I promise to love you, cherish you and always watch football/surfing/mud wrestling with you”).
5. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
Make sure you and your fiance are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your own vows, or will you write them together? If you’re writing them separately, do you want to run them by each other before the wedding or leave them as a surprise? (The latter can a nice way of keeping a spontaneous feeling at the actual moment.) If you’re writing them together, will they be completely different for each of you, or will you recite some of the same words and make the same promises to each other, as you would with traditional vows? Either way, make sure you send a copy of what you’ve written to your Officiant so he/she can familiarize him/herself and have a backup copy in case you need it.
6. SCHEDULE A CONFERENCE
Here is a great excuse to get together, have a date, go out to dinner or set aside an evening at home to be together. Look at this as an opportunity to talk about your relationship and what marriage means to you both. What do you hope for from each other and the relationship? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Why did you decide to get married? What hard times have you gone through together? What have you supported each other through? What challenges might you face together in the future? What do you want to accomplish together? Answering these questions will not only help you make and keep the promises you can incorporate into your vows, but can be a great tradition to continue to keep your relationship and marriage healthy and happy.
7. GO TO YOUR MAN OR WOMAN CAVE
After chatting with your fiance, it is important to spend some time alone to reflect on how you feel about your partner. What did you feel when you first saw them? When did you realize you were in love? What do you most love and respect about your partner? How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate? What about them makes you a better person? What qualities do you most admire in each other? What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met? You may be surprised how the answers lead you to the perfect words.
8. CREATE AN OUTLINE
An outline can get you started by helping to establish a clear structure. For example, plan to first talk about your fiancé special qualities and then about how you work well together as a couple, then quote your favorite words from a song and then go into your promises to each other.
9. PLAY TO THE AUDIENCE
Don’t make your vows so personal that they’re meaningless to those listening. If you’ve invited your family and friends to witness your vows they are there in order to publicly acknowledge your bond. So it is thoughtful to be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes, anything embarrassing, and obscure nicknames.
10. KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
Don’t make your vows too long — aim for a few minutes or so each, five minutes max (really, it’s longer than it sounds!). Get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you; focus on the most important points. You don’t need to say everything. You have the rest of your lives!
11. PRACTICE OUT LOUD
Reading words to yourself and saying them out loud can be two very different things. It is important to make sure your vows flow well when spoken. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences — you don’t want to get out of breath or stumble.
12. DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE
When the big day arrives, just before you say your vows, take a moment to feel your feet on the floor (or sand if you are in Hawaii) and take a deep breath. Don’t rush. This is your special moment. Soak it in and enjoy it. You will remember the feelings for the rest of your lives.