So, you are getting married, and you want to write your own vows? The exchange of your vows is the most ancient part of the ceremony. For centuries couples have made promises to one another that bind you together as sacred promises that must be kept forever. They do not need to be eloquent, but they should be personal and from the heart.
Writing your own vows might seem a little daunting at first but, if you follow a few simple tips, you will be able to write vows that will be memorable and meaningful.
1. Read examples of vows – A quick search of the internet will give you many places to go where you can read samples of vows that others have written. Wedding vows have a particular style and flow to them and learning that style and flow will help you in your writing.
2. Decide on the format – Wedding vows can be a repeat after me style where the officiant says a line, and you repeat it. Your vows can be written individually so your personality comes through or you can write them together, so you both say the same words. It is essential to decide on a format before you begin to write your vows.
3. Make notes about your relationship – As yourself the following questions:
What is the greatest thing about your partner?
When did you know your partner was "the one?"
What does marriage mean to you?
What are the most important promises you want to make?
Why have I chosen this person to be my partner?
What do I love most about my partner?
Why are you saying yes? (Maybe the most important question).
4. Make 2-3 Promises – Your vows need to be more than an essay on why you love the person you are standing before they need to be promises, sacred promises if you will. The standard, movie vows as I like to call them, use love, honor, and, depending on how old the film is, obey. These are all promises. These are the promises that you make to one another and that you will strive to live out daily in your marriage. The critical thing to remember is that they should come from the heart and be personal.
5. Use your own words – Although I suggested in tip #1 that you read examples of what others have written, the words you choose should be your own. I cannot stress this enough, you will be standing in front of the person you have chosen to live the rest of your days with. At the moment you recite your vows to each other will be an intimate and sacred moment between both of you. You might not remember any other part of the ceremony, but the vows should remain with you for the rest of your lives so make them your words.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice, and then practice again – The day of your wedding will be one filled with emotion, so it is best to be prepared by practicing your vows before the big day. If you know what each other has written, stand in front of each other and read them, it's okay to show some emotion, but you do not want to have a breakdown. If you are writing your vows separate and will hear them on your wedding day, then practice them apart. DO NOT TRY AND MEMORIZE THEM! I have seen just how bad things can get if you forget your lines, so it is best to print them out. I offer my couples that I will print your vows for you and present them to you at the appropriate time during the ceremony.
7. Preserve your vows – This comes from Martha Stewart and is actually a nice addition to the six tips I have given above. At a recent wedding, the couples had their vows printed in little folders, like greeting cards. They handed them to me before the ceremony, and I presented them at the appropriate time. It is a lovely keepsake to remind you of your vows and how vital it is to be reminded of them each day.
Writing your own vows can be an excellent addition to your ceremony. Your professional officiant will be able to help you and guide you along the path of the exercise so make sure you ask for advice.