Every person who has ever decided to write their own wedding vows has a moment when they think to themselves, “what have I done?” And there’s a few reasons why this panic sets in—writing is hard, writer’s block is real, and the thought of sharing intimate feelings about your partner in front of throngs of family and friends at your wedding ceremony can be terrifying.
But, truth be told, your Long Island wedding will be remembered as being loving, affectionate, and downright special if you add personal touches throughout the day. And one of those personal touches is you and your partner writing and reading your own personalized wedding vows. Your wedding day is a celebration of your love story from the first day you met until that moment at the altar. Rather than hearing you recite someone else’s words about love and marriage, your guests want to hear the romantic details of how you first met, how you sustained your relationship, and the promises you plan to keep well into your marriage.
But what makes for the perfect set of wedding vows? How can you make it meaningful, without being overly sappy? How can you inject some humor without being too silly? How can you ensure that your vows don’t drag on too long and put your guests to sleep? Let’s find out together with some crucial tips to writing your own wedding vows.
Get On The Same Page With Your Partner
First of all, you want to make sure that your partner is onboard with writing their own vows. You certainly don’t want one of you reciting self-authored vows and the other reading from a book of 16th century poetry. Once you’ve decided that you are both comfortable tackling personalized wedding vows, line up your formats, and specifically, agree on the length of your vows, which should be equal in duration. This helps the ceremony hum along at an efficient clip.
Organize Your Thoughts
So now that it’s been decided that you’re going to write your own vows, what exactly are you going to say? Obviously, this is the most difficult part of the process. It’s likely that you have millions of thoughts about your future spouse—feelings about the day you met, heartwarming memories about your relationship, funny stories about daily interactions, and hopes for the future together as a married couple.
The best way to start is to organize your thoughts by sketching an outline that answers a series of questions:
- • How did you meet?
- • What are your favorite memories from those early days?
- • What is the single greatest thing about your partner?
- • What’s an amusing anecdote about your relationship?
- • When did you know that you wanted to marry this person?
- • What does marriage mean to you? What promises do you want to make to your partner?
It might sound like homework and in a way it is. Find a quiet space and time, and get to work.
One of the greatest byproducts of living in the modern world is the never-ending access to a treasure trove of inspiring words in the form of books, movies, television, music, and more. Love is truly a universal emotion and artists have been writing about it for centuries. It’s all at your fingertips—passages of poetry, love stories, heartfelt lyrics. And if you’re looking for inspiration that’s closer to home, consult friends and family that have written their own wedding vows. Learn the tricks of the trade from someone whose wedding vows hit all the right notes.
There’s No Such Thing As ‘Too Many Drafts’
A rather famous author named Ernest Hemingway (you’ve probably heard of him) once said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” This quote is just as applicable to wedding vows as it is to the great American novel. Write an initial version, cross out parts you’ve decided against, fill it with arrows pointing one stanza to another part of the speech, overload it with asterisk marks for parts you really want to highlight—then scrap that entire version and start from scratch. Working through different drafts of your wedding vows, you’ll discover new angles and rediscover new memories that will make for perfect pronouncements of your love.
Include Some Universal Themes
Sure, you want it to be personal, but what you want to avoid is including way too many inside jokes or overload it with complicated thoughts that will only be meaningful to your partner. Yes, you want to include some deeply personal material that no one else can relate to, but you also want to keep the overall message as universal as possible so that your guests can enjoy the speech as much as your partner. Related to this, make an effort not to include any details that are too embarrassing to talk about out loud—you definitely don’t want your audience to cringe as you reveal intimate and awkward details about your future spouse. Having said that, include some slightly weird personal details that your partner and guests will find endearing.
Give Yourself Plenty Of Time
Start writing your vows early in the wedding planning process, as you want to be fully comfortable with your words well before the actual ceremony. A good rule of thumb is to have your vows finalized about three weeks before the nuptials. This way you can freely write the vows without the pressure of the actual wedding day weighing on you. This also gives you time to practice reciting your vows while looking at your notes as little as possible. Also, read your vows out loud to yourself. This can help you eliminate tongue-twisting words, complicated thoughts or overly long sentences that might prove to be problematic when trying to read out loud in front of 100-plus guests.
You might be the type of person that hates when people are over-sentimental about everything—well, leave those feelings behind when you walk down the aisle. This is not the time to be concerned with being corny or cheesy, instead, this is the time to embrace the sappy sentiments that belong in wedding vows. Tell your partner you’ll “always love them” and that you’ll “be there through thick and thin”—though maybe try to come up with a more poetic and unique way of saying it.
This might seem obvious—or even an insulting thing to remind someone—but there is so much going on that day, that it is possible for the most obvious detail to be mistakenly left out of the vows. Make a point to say those three magic words. Emphasize it and again, make it personal.