I love when couples decide they would like to write their own vows to each other, or even offer personal statements before the “official vows.” While it is not necessary to write your own vows to have an authentic and personal ceremony, it can make it something extraordinarily wonderful if you are open to it.
For many years, I have offered a free vow writing guide to couples who are looking for help on what to write about in their vows. Here are some more things to think about when you write about your wedding vows for your ceremony.
1. Decide on the format, structure and length together.
This depends on the couple, but I always thing it is a good idea for a couple to decide how ‘aligned’ they want their vows to be. Some people are natural speakers, and even prefer speaking from the heart rather than preparing anything in advance. Some people want to make sure that there are no surprises at the ceremony. Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to decide together what “ground rules” you will have for writing what you say on your wedding day. Specifically, I encourage you to sit down and answer these questions together.
- Do you want to use a narrative format where you talk about your love or a list of promises to each other or a combination?
- Do you want to have the same format or are you okay having each person choose the format that goes naturally with their writing and speaking style?
- Do you want to stick to the same length?
- Do you want to each say your own vows or have Tracy repeat them in question format and simply say “I Do” at the end?
Generally speaking, for clients who are nervous about the vow writing process, I recommend the following framework to get them going.
- Begin with 1-2 sentences of why you are excited about marrying this person
- State 3-5 specific promises you want to make to this person
- Make a closing statement, maybe even the same one.
- Stick to 250-500 words total.
2. Make them specific.
The best vows are specific to your relationship, in addition to promising to love, cherish and take care of each other. My previously mentioned vow guide has a number of prompts that can help you think back of things you share, quirks you know about each other, and moments you have experienced together. Here are some examples some of my couples have used in writing their own vows.
J & S, June 2016
- Do you promise to make sure there is always cheese in the house, to tell her honestly if there is food in her teeth, and to get her a chocolate from the freezer whenever she asks?
- Do you promise to listen to him, to support him in all his endeavors, and to accept that 82 games is the perfect length for a hockey season?
C & W, November 2016
- I promise to put my phone on silent when we’re watching a movie.
- Thanks for being patient with me, especially when I’m hungry. Oh, and thanks for not judging my insane obsession with Asian cuisine.
M & K, May 2016
- She promises to always be your biggest fan and make sure that all new friends are immediately informed that you were named best dancer in high school.
- She promises to go on fishing adventures with you, even if those adventures require bringing along a machete.
F & W, May 2016
- There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I love you with all my heart and soul, and to me, this will always have been enough.
- As Twitter user Jomny Sun said “falling in love is like having spent your entire life reading a thesaurus and someone hands you a dictionary.” And I know that’s cheesy, but so are you, and I want to be cheesy together.
3. Choose the best way to read them that works for you and your ceremony.
An important consideration is to consider how you may want to read your vows on the day of your wedding. Please don’t try to memorize them! You can bring your vows handwritten or typed on any type of paper, bring them in special notebooks, or have them included as part of your ceremony script and read them off my tablet. The pictures included in the post demonstrate the different ways you can choose to read your vows.
- If you choose to bring them on paper, think of the weather conditions and quality of paper. I unfortunately had a ceremony out on Tybee where the weather conditions make a groom’s notebook paper vows tear and run so he had a hard time reading them. if your ceremony is during a rainy or windy time of year, cardstock may be a good idea.
- If you’d like to handwrite your vows, a vow notebook is perfect. You can find them on Amazon or Etsy. Small colorful Moleskin notebooks are also great options.
- Finally, think about how you will want to keep the vows after your ceremony, if you are creating a memory box or scrapbook. If you include your vows electronically with my ceremony script, you can also print them later for your keepsake plans.
I offer a review of your personal vows as part of any of my custom writing ceremony packages. If you send me your vows, I’ll read them and give joint and individual feedback on how they mesh without spoiling your surprises. I hope this post makes you confident that you can definitely write the perfect wedding vows, the ones that are romantic, joyful, meaningful and authentic to your relationship!
Until next time,