Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

Exchanging vowsSome Couples are just naturally inclined to write their own vows. It doesn’t mean they’re better than any other vows. Some couples prefer to put their commitment in their own words.  

When you consider writing your own wedding vows, you want to remember 

— Who you are promising to be

— What you are promising to do

Marriage means different things to everyone. Even though it might seem like there is a norm that we are to follow, there are no two people in the world like you and your partner. So your marriage will be unique. Writing your own wedding vows is the way to reflect your uniqueness. You are going to be sharing who you are and how the uniqueness that is you will do to love your partner.

Writing your own wedding vows sets the standard you strive to live up to for your entire life. When you write your own wedding vows, you are setting goals for your own heart to reach for.

When to Begin

Don’t wait until the last week to write your vows. Honestly, you have no way of knowing how many details will still need to be tended to during that last week. Relatives will be coming in, and friends will be sending early well-wishes. The excitement may reach a whole new pitch of nervousness and excitement. So in writing your own wedding vows, get it done sooner than later. I’ve had people who wanted to write their own vows wait until the last minute and then decide to use vows someone else wrote.

Four Big Basics of Writing Your Own Vows

Begin with a memory of a moment in your relationship that a light bulb went off in your head. If there was a moment when you knew that you knew, give a little snapshot of that moment. What made you realize you didn’t want to be anywhere other than  with him or her?

What do you appreciate about your partner? What are some of the big and little things he or she does that makes you love them? 

Should you mention a negative quality about your partner? If you  want to wade onto the edge of criticism, make it  humorous. If you mention a quirk or irritation ALWAYS bring your observation to how you will accept or work around their challenging quality.

What You Promise Your Partner You Will DO

Here’s what you promise your partner on your wedding day. “I promise to respect you.” “I promise to rub your feet even if they’re stinky.” “I promise to make you the number one priority in my life.” I PROMISE. I PROMISE. I PROMISE.

REMEMBER you don’t have to explain or give a history lesson. Some vows I’ve witnessed have almost been embarrassing in their detail. Keep it short. If you’ve written your vows on two sheets of paper, it’s too much. Consider this: Write your longer vows in a letter and seal it in the Anniversary Box Ceremony.

But do say why you’re committing and a bit of what happened to make you willing to make such an important commitment. 

Below are more examples of how to go about fulfilling these four big basics.

Contemplating Marriage

To begin the process of writing your own vows, set aside a long space of time to contemplate what is meaningful to you in your relationship. What do you know is important to your fiancé? What promise can you make to ensure the things you both value are encouraged in your relationship?  What are you most looking forward to about married life? For example, do you value the fun you and your fiancé have? Then make a promise not to take yourselves too seriously. Or ask yourself how can you bring joy to your relationship on a daily basis?

Other ideas to contemplate is how has your life changed because of your relationship? How do you envision this continuing as time progresses? What is it that you love most about your partner? What promises can you make to encourage the best in him or her?

Setting the Tone

Next step in writing your own wedding vows, decide on the tone you want to set. In the packet of information I provide, there are humorous, contemporary, spiritual and religious vows. No one tone is better than another. Some couples want humor in their vows so they may promise to let their spouse hold the remote control. Or make the popcorn. Walk the dog when it’s his or her turn and it’s raining outside. 

If you want to promise love “in sickness and in health” in a new humorous way, you could say, “I’ll get you medicine when your tummy aches”. If romance is important to you, paraphrase something from a great poet. For example, Kahlil Gibran wrote about Marriage in his masterpiece, The Prophet. From his words, you could state, “I promise to let there be spaces in our togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between us.”

Your vows should acknowledge the sincerity of the commitment you’re about to make even if your vows contain humorous elements.

Research

There are many examples of vows on the internet. Plus there is the package I provide with different vows in them. Mix and match vows, adapt, paraphrase. Read poetry, pick out phrases from your favorite songs or movies. Inspiration abounds, and all you may need is to prime the creative pump by doing a little research.

Same Words or Different?

Decide if you want to say the same words to each other or will each be unique. If they are unique, do you want to share them with each other before your wedding day to make sure you are on the same page with each other? Or do you want your vows to be a surprise?

 Editing

It’s important that your vows are personal, but be careful you don’t promise something that is too personal. You’ll only get embarrassed. Nor do you want your vows to be too vague. You do want your partner and guests to understand what you are promising. Put a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.

Covering All the Bases is Not Necessary

When you have a list of ideas you want to convey, keep consolidating ideas so you come to the core elements you know you can promise to uphold forever. Then when you have consolidated, do it again. You don’t’ want to make your vows too long so aim for about one minute. You’d be surprised how fast it seems to be to you, but how long it can seem to others, including your mate! Alisa Tongg, a wedding officiant says, “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.”

The Delivery

Even in the best of cases, people can get nervous. It’s very rare that a person can memorize their vows. But nothing looks tackier than having life-long promises written on a tattered piece of paper. If you are going to read your vows to your mate, print them out on a nice piece of paper. Give them to your Best Man or Maid/Matron of Honor, or the minister. They can hand them to you at the appropriate time. 

Be sure to look up from your script and into the eyes of your mate so the warmth and meaning is conveyed between you.

Timing is important too. Try to stay within a one minute time frame. I know that doesn’t seem like very long but trust me, you’ll probably talk longer than that but aiming for shorter vows gives you wiggle room for going over but not being so long everyone will fall asleep instead of paying attention — even your partner!

The Asking

Another alternative is having your wedding minister speak the wedding vows you’ve written phrase by phrase in the form of a question. You then say “I DO” or “I WILL” after I finish the phrase. This way of sharing your vows is called The Asking.

The Last Words

Every good piece of writing has a conclusion. Your vows should have a clear ending as well This is the perfect place to say, “I love you with all my heart. I love the sound of calling you ‘husband’ / ‘wife'”. However you’re inspired to put this period on your vows, include the word LOVE. 

Before you share your personal vows at your wedding ceremony, speak them privately and out loud to yourself. You’ll be able to tell in listening to yourself if the words you have chosen convey what is most important to you. Or if they sound silly or trite. This is yet another good reason to start earlier than later!

Feel free to run your ideas past me, as well. Having someone else look over what you’re writing who has some experience can make a big difference so your intentions are clear. I’m happy to lend my experience as you are writing your own wedding vows.

Namaste!

Rev Crystal

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