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Tips for Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
Traditional wedding vows may not be for you, or at least they may not be all you want for your ceremony. Writing your own wedding vows is not only a choice for the non-traditional bride and groom, but it’s also a great way to introduce your flair and personality into something that might otherwise be considered stiff or impersonal. If you want your wedding to be personal, take a look at some tips for writing your own wedding vows so you can truly make this ceremony yours.
Do you love your honey? Well, for goodness sake’s, say so! Don’t spare any gushy emotions for your wedding guests because, after all, they’re here to see you get hitched. This will probably be the most romantic day of your life, so make it romantic. How much do you love your fiancé? Why do you love him or her? How do you know your love will endure? Why is this the best relationship of your life? What makes him or her truly special?
A great way to get your wedding vows started off on the right foot is to start with a story or a moment. “Do you remember that time when it rained and you carried me across the street?” Or start this way: “From the first email I read of yours, I knew that we were kindred spirits.” Anecdotes are a great way to set the mood of your vows because these references make your vows specific and personal.
Watch out that you’re not incorporating anecdotes for the sake of your guests. Don’t say something like, “We met at a dance in September 2013 on a night when my friends pushed me to go even though I didn’t want to because I had had enough of the dating scene.” Regardless of that fact, it’s a sentence with too much information packed into it. You want to remember good times, and truly focus on your love for one another.
Don’t pack your wedding vows just for the sake of it, especially if the reason is simply for the guests. You should be writing the vows to your soon-to-be-spouse, the person who knows you the best in this world. While you want to be specific, you don’t want to be so specific that he/she asks why you’re incorporating information that he/she already knows. Write as if you’re having a conversation just between the two of you, not making a speech to a crowd.
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Again, you’re not working the crowd. Don’t think that you’ll be holding a microphone with one hand and tiny cue cards in the other and that you’ll be facing the guests and pacing the stage like a comedian. No, no, no. You’ll be facing the person that you’re getting married to, saying all of the things that are on your heart, tiny cue cards or not. But sometimes when you want to say something that’s on your heart, its okay to be cute or funny.
You could say something like, “I’ll love you even through the years of dirty laundry, drinking from the milk carton, and not putting the cap back on the toothpaste.” When you incorporate these slight humors, you’re not only being funny but you’re acknowledging all aspects of life, the good and the bad.
If you want to incorporate both your anecdote and your comedy, you could say something like, “I knew that I loved you the very first moment you stole my pen in class” or “Even though you backed into my car that first night, I love you.” Sure, this will get a chuckle from your guests, but it’s more important to look to your dear one and see that love includes all moments in life, from serious moments to funny ones. Remember that conversation we talked about.
These are your wedding vows, after all, so say stuff you actually mean. Some realistic brides and grooms choose to say that they vow to be wed “as long as we’re both happy and it makes sense.” Some romantic brides and grooms choose to say will be married “till death do us part” or “as long as we both shall live.” Religious couples may say the marriage will last “until God separates us.”
If you think this part of the wedding vows is weird, you actually don’t have to say it at all. You can make your vows whatever you want them to be. But whatever you do say, make it real. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t promise to love someone even if his/her dog poops all over your stuff and then change your mind in the heat of the moment. (And, by the way, it would be weird to put that into your wedding vows.)
If the point hasn’t already been made, these vows are for you and your fiancé, not for anyone else. Don’t say pretty things because they sound good and then disregard them when it comes to “real life.” Vows set the tone for your marriage. You are promising certain things for your life together. If you only intend on sounding great on day one of the marriage without any follow-through, you’re in for a rough road ahead.
Steal from Other Vows
There is absolutely nothing wrong with stealing a line or two from other vows, such as traditional vows or other personal vows as seen in movies or TV shows like Friends. (If you steal from a friend’s personal vows, though, that might get awkward.) Here is an example of the most traditional wedding vows:
I, (name), take you (name), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forth until death do us part.
If stealing from traditional vows, only take the parts that truly apply to your own feelings, and say what you want to say. If you think the “I, (name), take you (name)” part is too formulaic or lawful, then skip it. You can address your vows more like a letter if you wish. For example, “Dear (name), I vow to be your (husband/wife)…”
If even that is too formal, take the name off of the beginning. There is nothing wrong with using traditional vows as a template and then adjusting the parts that you think fit. You’ll notice that even in these traditional vows, “to love and to serve” has been removed as it’s generally considered archaic. If everyone else revises and changes traditional vows, how come you can’t?
Be Aware of Length
While everyone wants to see you profess your love to one another, no one wants to hear “I love you, I love you, I love you” for an hour, and this may include the one who is sharing with you one of the most stressful days of your life. It’s important to say exactly what you mean and to vow your life to the other person, but it’s also important not to be redundant, not to be over-bearing, and not to bore your sweetheart (not like you would ever bore him/her, right?).
To keep the proper length for your vows, hand write about a page in length and then read it out loud. Generally the rule for reading pages aloud is that one page equals one minute. While it sounds like a short amount of time, it won’t feel short when you’re standing in front of everyone reading aloud. Don’t freak out. This isn’t public speaking class. But plan for about a minute-long vow. A little bit longer or shorter shouldn’t make much of a difference.
Wedding vows not only serve the purpose of a solemn vow between two people but they also set the tone for your marriage. This is your opportunity to tell the love of your life not only how long you’ve loved him/her despite all their flaws, but how long you will continue to love him or her in the years to come.
Be funny and be anecdotal, but above all, be real and be honest. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so say things that will define the great life you imagine for the two of you.