How do you capture the love you feel for your partner in a few short paragraphs? How can you possibly put on paper the feeling you get when he walks in the room? How can you explain, elegantly, how you knew he was the one? There is an inherent challenge and opportunity in deciding to write your own wedding vows. It gives you a chance to speak from the heart and make your ceremony even more personal, but it also means you’ll need to put your deepest emotions into words, and find the confidence to speak them in front of your friends, family, and most importantly, the love of your life. To help you write marriage vows you can deliver with grace and confidence, follow our seven tips below.
Agree with your partner on length, format, and tone.
You don’t need to share your vows with one another before the ceremony (in fact, it will be more meaningful if you hear them for the first time during the wedding), but you should agree on three important factors: length, format, and tone. You’ll want your vow ceremony to feel cohesive, so make sure you are both writing vows that are about the same length, that follow the same format, and that set the same tone. If your partner reads a heartfelt missive that brings the room to tears, and then you follow it up with vows that are more relaxed, or even more playful and funny, it may feel awkward and less consistent for you guests, as well as for you and your partner.
Start with a simple brainstorming exercise.
You’re staring at a white blank page worrying about crafting the perfect opening sentence. Take the pressure off by starting with a simple brainstorming exercise. Simply jot down words, phrases, and memories of your time together. When you’re done, step away from your notes for a day or two. When you come back to them, you may start to see a theme, or a story start to evolve that will give you a starting point for your vows.
Remember that vows are promises.
Sharing a memory or two, or recalling a story may fit in your overall theme, but remember the goal is to make a promise (or many promises), to your partner. Think about the lifelong commitments that are most important to you, and put into words your promise to be faithful and resolute to those needs and desires.
Find inspiration, but don’t rely on anyone else’s’ words.
Be careful YouTubing examples of wedding vows for inspiration. There are some amazing examples to be found, but you want to make sure that your vows are your own, and not too heavily influenced by others.
It can be easy to rely upon common phrases or expressions of love, but if you find yourself working them into your vows, consider replacing them with something more personal and sincere. For example, instead of saying, “When we met, I knew it was love at first sight,” say something like, “When our good friends Joe and Nicole introduced us, I could tell by the way you smiled and introduced yourself that you were different, and I immediately felt you were someone I wanted to get to know better.”
Put it down on paper. Edit. Revise. Repeat.
Don’t feel like you have to write your vows from top to bottom 100 percent perfectly on your first pass. Even if you’re feeling the pangs of writer’s block, simply start with a first draft and put something—anything that inspires you and comes from your heart—down on paper. Come back to it the next day and start editing. You can revise and re-write as many times as you want until you feel you’ve perfectly captured the sentiments you want to convey to your partner.
Know that you can’t get it wrong.
As long as you are speaking sincerely, and from the heart, you don’t need to worry about anyone’s idea of perfecting. Even though your friends and family are bearing witness, your vows are for no one other than your partner. Speak from your heart and with sincerity, and you’ll be certain to delight the one you love.
Bonus Tip: Don’t wait until the night before to write your vows! You’ve got enough to stress about without writing your vows at the last minute. Start (and finish) them at least several weeks before the big day.