GUIDELINES: HOW TO WRITE YOUR VOWS

The first 5 are guidelines I send to all my brides and grooms to help assist with writing them, the last 3 tips are to help when speaking to the audience.

When writing your vows make sure to be in the same page. If you do not to know each other’s vows make sure to agree on topics that both of you can write about. There can be a variety of memories you want to share or even inside jokes. It may also be stories you both can relate to and sharing special moments that have brought you to where you are today. Things like this that you both can touch base on or possibly your outlook on marriage. You may want it to be a collaboration of all of the above. Here are tips I offer:

1. To get inspired:
Start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows — from your own religion, if you practice a certain faith, but others, as well — to see what strikes a chord with you. You can incorporate these into the original words you write, or simply use them as a jumping-off point to base your personalized vows on. Remember you may rewrite them as much as you would like until you are comfortable and confident with the words you have chosen.

2. Set the tone:
Before putting pen to paper, decide what overall tone you want to achieve. Humorous but touching? Poetic and romantic? It’s your call — the most important thing is that your vows ring true and sound like they’re from your heart. One word of advice: While your vows can be lighthearted (or even hilarious), they should, in some way, acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you’re about to make. One way to do that is to weave little jokes into traditional vows (for example: “I promise to love you, cherish you and always watch Monday Night Football with you”.)

3. Figure out the logistics:
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, will you want to run them by each other before the wedding? 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? If you want them to be a surprise on your wedding day, make sure you both send a copy of what you’ve written to your officiant or to one friend or family member so they can check that your vows are about the same length and similar in tone.

4. Make sure to ask yourself:
What are you most looking forward to about married life? What make your relationship work? 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 succeed? Answering these questions will help you make and keep your promises, and talking about your bond may expose your inner Wordsworth and help you come up with phrases and stories you can and want to incorporate into your vows. What did you think when you first saw them? 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 each other? What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met? You may be surprised how these answers may lead you to the perfect words.

5. Look for inspiration:
Borrow freely from poetry, books or even from romantic movies that you two have watched together. You might find a word or phrase you would like to add into your vows. Jot down words that capture your feelings or intrigue you. What grabs your attention when you read these words? How does it make you feel, how do it relate to the two of you. How does it express your passion for one another.

Remember Your Audience:

Don’t make your vows so personal that they’re 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.

Time It Right:

Don’t make them too long — aim for about one minute or so (it’s longer than it sounds!). Your vows are the most important element of your ceremony, but that doesn’t mean they should go on for hours. Get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you with your vows; pick the most important points and make them well. Save some thoughts for the reception toasts — and for the wedding night.

Practice Out Loud (Seriously!):

These are words meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. Read your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences — you don’t want to get out of breath or stumble.

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