January 13, 2016
Most brides and grooms will tell you that standing in front of the most important people in their lives, and sharing their innermost feelings – without emotionally breaking down – can feel somewhat uncomfortable and certainty intimidating. That said, writing personalized wedding vows can be the most rewarding part of planning your wedding ceremony. Remember the more personal your vows, the more meaningful they are to your partner.
There is this misconception floating around that suggests you can please everyone when it comes to expressing your love for one another. Well you can’t, and why would you? Your wedding vows should be a reflection of your personalities and values, mirror who you are, who your partner is, and the special relationship you share.
So consider the following when writing “non-traditional” vows to the person with whom you are about to marry:
1) The first question you and your fiancée need to address is if you both even want to write personalized wedding vows or do you prefer to say a traditional vow and just add a personal sentence or two?
2) If you do decide to write personal vows, begin by talking about the tone of your vows. If one of you writes serious, traditional vows and the others are humorous, the humorous vows could seem disrespectful or dismissive. Therefore make sure that you are in agreement if you want your vows to be poetic, romantic or a mix of both with a little humour included.
3) Discuss if you will share your vows with one another beforehand or if you want to keep them secret until your wedding day. If you do decide to keep them private, let your partner know the length of your vows so that you don’t embarrass one another with vows that are significantly different in length.
4) If you choose to write your vows together how long do you want them to be? In most cases 30-40 seconds will be sufficient. Your vows are important, but that doesn’t mean they should drag on. When you say something in a very meaningful way, you don’t have to say it over and over.
5) Google comes in handy. Start by searching online to find inspiration and examples of vows that strike a chord with you. Incorporate some words or thoughts into the original words you write, or just use them as a jumping-off point for your personalized vows.
6) Now that you have made the decision to write your own vows as well as the tone and length of your promises, write them down. Don’t rely on your memory or decide to wing it. Follow a four-part format: Affirm your love, praise your partner, offer broad promises and close with a final vow. Simple, clear, precise – and memorable.
7) You will probably make changes to your vows along the way, so start writing them early. After you think you’re finished, leave them for a few weeks and then revisit what you’ve written. You may think of something else you want to say or even change what you have already written. So don’t procrastinate – start sooner than later because creating meaningful vows takes time and patience.
8) Speak with your Officiant. If s/he has officiated weddings for years, s/he will have some thoughts and suggestions that you may not have considered. Your Officiant can be a wonderful resource as well as an impartial sounding board. Also make sure that s/he has a backup copy just in case to forget them in the hotel on the way to your ceremony.
9) Practice saying your vows aloud. Sometimes, we write things that look good on paper but are awkward when spoken. Hearing it will help you know what they will sound like to your fiancé and wedding guests. This will also give you a chance to time how long it takes to say your vows.
10) The paper you read from should be legible, free of cross-outs, arrows and notes. And give some thought to the presentation too, because it will end up in the photos. Get a nice note card that matches your wedding colors or your favourite 4X6 photo and paste your vows to fit onto the card.
Writing your personal vows is not something that has to be a challenging task. After all, you are not saying anything that you haven’t already said to your future spouse. You are just expressing how you truly feel about the person you are about share the future with.
So be honest, be open and be daring – step out of your comfort zone. Your spouse, your guests and you will be glad you did.
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