These days it’s not uncommon for couples to write their own wedding vows, and it’s a great way to add a personal touch to the wedding ceremony. But let’s face it, most of us aren’t professional writers, and when it comes right down to it crafting a beautiful and expressive set of wedding vows can be more challenging than it may at first seem. Still, that doesn’t mean couples should abandon the idea of writing their own vows. Far from it. Writing your own vows can be easy, if you think it through and follow a few simple tips.
Making the Decision (Together)
The first step to writing your own wedding vows is to discuss the idea as a couple. You may have always assumed that you and your spouse-to-be would write your own vows, but your partner may not have even considered it. Talk it over together, and make sure you are both comfortable with the idea, and are committed to crafting a unique set of wedding vows. Then, decide if you will write your wedding vows together, or work separately. Some couples like to write their vows separately, so there is an element of surprise at the wedding.
Clear Any Roadblocks
Before you dedicate yourselves to writing your own vows, be sure it is actually an option. If you are planning a church wedding, you may be expected to follow the traditional service. Check with your chosen wedding officiant and find out if you will be allowed to alter the service and craft your own vows. You should also consider your family’s expectations. Will Mom and Dad, and the grandparents, be comfortable with you writing your own vows?
The Structure of Your Vows
Most wedding vows follow a basic structure, even when written by the happy couple themselves. To get an idea of how to structure your original wedding vows, look at some traditional versions online. This will help you get an idea of the tone, and the format, your vows should take. Now, if you are totally throwing tradition to the wind, you can craft whatever style of vows you please, but there are certain areas that should be covered. To help get you started, here’s a rough template you can follow:
- The Declaration of Love – Start with a declaration, where you express your love for your partner. Speak about how wonderful they are, and why they are important to you and your future. Take some time here to discuss what makes your spouse-to-be unique, what it is only they can bring to your life, and how they are your one perfect partner and companion.
- The Wedding Promises – Traditionally, this is where you promise to “love, honor, and cherish” your partner throughout your marriage. You may promise before God, or before your assembled guests. It’s up to you. However, you should make a point of promising to respect each other as equals, and discuss the things you will do for, and with, your spouse throughout your journey together. You should promise to be there for each other through the good times and bad, and to protect and comfort each other through all that life brings you. Finally, you should declare your love again, and promise that it will remain undying for all time.
Rough Drafts and Editing
Once you have a rough draft, it’s time to do some editing. Ideally, you want your vows to last no longer than a minute or so. Trust me, that’s longer than you think, particularly when you are standing in front of all of your friends and family. If you need to cut your rough draft back a bit, do so now and concentrate on the most vivid declarations of love and the most important marriage promises. This is also a good time to tighten up the language, and define the style and tone of your vows.
Write and Rewrite
Writing your wedding vows isn’t something you do in an afternoon, and it’s not like churning out a book report on the bus to school. Give yourselves plenty of time to write a few drafts, do some editing, and write your vows again. You want your vows to express your deepest feelings, and it will take time to get them right. Don’t rush the process, and if it helps have someone you trust review your works in progress (in secret of course).
Once your vows are written, and you are pleased with the result, it’s to practice them until they roll smoothly off the tongue. You don’t necessarily need to memorize them, but you want to be as comfortable as possible when it comes to deliver your vows live at the wedding ceremony. And remember, your vows are meant to be heard, so practice them out loud making any necessary changes until they flow easily off the tongue and sound sweet to the ear.
Finally, Follow Your Heart
These few tips should help you craft a successful set of wedding vows that will express the love you have for your partner, while bringing tears to the eyes of your guests. Remember that in the final analysis your wedding is all about you and your spouse-to-be, so follow your hearts and feel free to make what you want out of your wedding vows. It’s up to you and your partner. Ultimately, your vows should speak to one another, expressing your love and devotion and your hope for the future. If you follow your heart, you are sure to create wedding vows that are honest and thoughtful, and perfect for the moment.