There’s a huge emphasis lately on creating a truly unique wedding experience. A large part of that includes writing your own vows. While some people love traditional vows, writing your own can be the most meaningful part of your ceremony.
Where to even begin? Above all, remember that at the heart of every wedding vow is the idea that you’re making a pact. Vows should have three distinctive features: a declaration of love, promises for the future and some personal touches. Use language that is as simple and natural as possible. No one is asking you to be the second coming of Shakespeare. Nor do we want you to try.
Below, we have a few other pointers for writing your own vows and making them sound exactly the way you want.
1. Make sure that you can: Some houses of worship may require you recite a specific set of traditional vows. Some officiants may want to review your vows before the ceremony. Make sure you get the all clear when you have your first meeting with your officiant.
If you get the okay and then get stuck writing your vows, your officiant can be a great resource. He or she can probably offer some structure and pointers. This is, after all, what they do for a living.
2. Get your fiance on board: Writing your own vows is a very public and very personal expression of love — and not everyone is totally comfortable with that. Sure, You know he loves you — he’s marrying you — but the idea idea of getting into specifics in front of all their family and friends scares some people. If your fiance isn’t into it, you may have to stick with the traditional vows.
If he’s into it, one of the first things you need to agree on is the tone of the vows. Will your vows include humor, or will they be serious? Decide on this early, even if the final draft will be a surprise during the ceremony.
3. Don’t procrastinate: The night before your wedding is not that time to sit down and start writing a draft of your vows. Like any piece of writing, you need to take a few shots at it. Give yourself a deadline of at least a week or so before the big day.
So start brainstorming! What did you think when you first met him? When did you realize you were in love? How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate? What do you miss most about them when you’re apart? What qualities do you most admire about him? What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met? A few prompts can really get the creative juices flowing.
You can also approach it as a love letter. What would you tell your fiance if you were far away from him and weren’t sure when you would see him again? Check out this link for great tips on what kinds of words to use, length and even more questions to ask yourself as you write them. This site offers more examples than you will know what to do with, depending on how you want to frame the vows. (Traditional, interfaith, etc.)
4. Keep it classy: The vows should be personal, but not so inside baseball that your guests have no idea what you’re talking about. In the interest of taste, limit inside jokes or anything that may seem a little TMI. Never say anything even the slightest bit inappropriate. No references to sex or to exes. And obviously no profanity.
If there are personal stories you want to share with him, a letter to your fiance before your wedding is a good place to write about them.
5. Borrow ideas from everywhere: You’ve probably never written wedding vows before, but lots of other people have. Look to what is already out there from real weddings and work some of it into your vows. Classic literature has some lovely passages that may inspire you as well. If you need examples for different faiths and denominations, check this out.
6. Practice reciting them out loud: You want your vows to be no more than one to three minutes long. So get in front of your mirror and practice. This will teach you where to stop, pause, and general pacing. You’re going to read these in front of a room full of your nearest and dearest, you’re going to be nervous, so the more familiar you are with your vows, the better.
So much wedding planning, so little time. Save some by checking out: 12 thing you will regret not doing at your wedding. (So do them!), 10 things to tell your husband right before your wedding and 8 things to do between your ceremony and your reception.