Writing vows can feel like an intimidating and nerve-wracking process. Somewhere between selecting the color palette to finalizing the guest count, vows get lost in the shuffle of wedding planning priorities (hellooo, cake-testing!). Our advice? If you decide to write your vows, don’t make it an afterthought on the to-do list. This isn’t some book report that you can procrastinate and breeze your way through; these are your most intimate feelings that you are trying your best to convey to your life companion. While the task feels overwhelming, we promise that if you commit to writing wow-worthy vows it can be just as sweet as sampling wedding desserts. Just in a different way.
Whether you decide to take the traditional/religious route or leap to write your own custom vows, make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to knock this once-in-a-lifetime moment out of the park by making it thoughtful and true to you and your love story.
BEFORE WRITING YOUR VOWS
Have a conversation with your officiant.
Often times, vows are reflective of religious practices. Depending on your officiant and house of worship, you may be required to stick to all or a portion of the traditional marriage vows associated with that religion. Your officiant will have those answers. Talk with them before delving into the process, as their answers could help set the foundation of your vows.
- Reflect on your relationship.
Some people begin their vows with a small summary of their relationship’s inception and early days. Others jump into a light-hearted story that perfectly reflects their relationship. Either way, put some thought behind it and start thinking about the reasons you love your partner. What makes your relationship special? Now, think about the good times, the not-so-good times, and everything in between. What memorable moments stick out to you? Make note of those, along with the promise(s) you’d like to make to your partner. You can even sit down together and reflect on the special memories you share to further help draw inspiration.
- Determine the style of your vows.
Do you have specific religious vows you need to stick to or are you creating your own from scratch? Below are examples of some different styles.
Talk to your officiant to see what the standard wedding vows are for your religious practice. These are generally more structured in format, like this popular religious pledge for example, “I, (your name), take thee, (partner’s name), to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward…”. Depending on religious standards, you might be able to use traditional/religious vows as starting point and then modify them to suit your personality.
Want to pour your heart out? Take the soft-hearted and touching approach to writing your vows, where each word carries weight and emotion. Your wedding day will be one of the most cherished and romantic days of your life, so incorporate those warm, full-of-love feelings that you have into your vows.
Vows can be just as meaningful with a few playful anecdotes incorporated throughout. While you shouldn’t be premiering your comedic routine, it’s okay to share a silly story or funny memory. Stories like this help add personality and keep your wedding guests on their toes during your story time.
- Short and Sweet
Your wedding vows don’t have to be a novel. You don’t have to spill your heart out either. Maybe you wish to keep the deep feelings between the two of you and not announced to an audience? That’s no problem—make some meaningful promises, briefly share with your partner how much you love them, mention the future, and you’re good to go!
WRITING YOUR VOWS
Don’t wait until the last minute.
Carefully marrying the right words together is key. You want your vows to have a nice ring to them; after all, you will be sharing them with the love of your life (no pressure). So, whatever your writing process, don’t wait until the night before or morning of your wedding day to complete them. Writing your vows the last minute might leave you at a loss to find the right words, create writer’s block, and feel less thoughtful and organized. These words represent your commitment to each other, so take the time you need to pull your thoughts in order.
- Write a few drafts.
The first time you put pen to paper, you probably won’t get your vows exactly how you want them to read. That’s because you will have a number of thoughts and emotions bouncing around in your head, which can be overwhelming. To begin, take a few deep breaths and just start writing. Move things around. Add some personality. Make promises. Tie in a personal story. And don’t forget to say, “I love you.” Between all of the words you thoughtfully want to include, these three can easily become overlooked.
After it’s drafted, take a break. Sleep on it. Give it a day or even a week. Then come back to the draft when you have a clear head. This refreshed perspective will allow you to finesse areas you might have initially brushed over.
- Make it authentic to you.
As you commit to writing wow-worthy vows, keep in mind how these vows will be spoken aloud. If you aren’t an eloquent speaker that melodically bridges one sweeping poem-like sentence to the next, stay away from a romantic and heartfelt tone. Incorporate personality and verbiage that is authentic to how you speak.
Don’t lose sight of who will be receiving these words—you are speaking to your partner. Not the entire ceremony audience. And above all else: speak from the heart.
DELIVERING YOUR VOWS
Come up with a plan.
Will your vows be kept a secret until the ceremony or do you plan to write them together? Sometimes writing your vows together can help with consistency. If your partner is taking a light-hearted approach and you’re going for a serious, romantic tone, the exchange the day-of could feel a little off when read back to back. If you wish to keep your vows a secret until the wedding day, but don’t want for them to have conflicting styles, discuss the writing style of your vows with your partner before each of you starts writing. That way you will know the tone of their message (romantic, playful, short, etc.) but not the exact words they play to share with you.
If your religion does not allow for custom vows to be shared during the ceremony, then you will want to decide on a different way to deliver your heartfelt words. The most common method is to write your vows within a card and exchange these cards before the ceremony or first look.
- Practice, practice and then practice more.
Cue the happy tears! You could be surprised at how emotional you might get when reading these vows out loud. If it’s difficult to get through your full vows each time they are read aloud, consider toning down the areas that really tug on your heartstrings. Or, just keep practicing reading it aloud until you come to a point where it’s easier to speak the words (no wedding day guarantees though!).
Hopefully these thoughts have helped guide you to commit to writing wow-worthy vows. In the end, the time you put into these special words will honor your partner and be a lasting legacy of the love you feel for them.