Next to assembling the seating charts (and hand-making the wedding shower favors), my biggest challenge when I planned my wedding to James was writing my vows. Being the romantic that I am, I thought it would be fun to write our own vows, but it was actually pretty hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t do it – I’m just saying you should give yourselves more than a week to write them!
Before you get started, check with your officiant to ensure that you are allowed to substitute your vows for traditional ones! In many cases, the officiant will set aside time in the ceremony for you and your spouse-to-be to recite your own vows in addition to the traditional ones.
Set ground rules with your fiancé. Will you be reading the vows to each other before the ceremony or will they be a surprise? What tone will your vows have – funny, serious, romantic, poetic? If you’re on the same page when you begin, then the writing process will be much easier!
Keep the vows short. Anything longer than a minute or so and your guests might begin to squirm. The shorter the vows, the easier they will be to remember. Your wedding day will be a rush of activity, so keep your vows simple, short and easy to remember – you’ll thank yourself later!
Now it’s time to begin brainstorming!
- Consider your history – when you met, when you first realized you were in love, when you first knew your fiancé was the person you wanted to marry, or your favorite memory of your partner. You may have many favorite memories so write everything down first and then go through and pick the times you want to highlight the most.
- Think about how your fiancé makes you feel now – what you miss about him/her when they’re gone, how your life has changed since you met or how he/she inspires you.
- Think about your future – what do you expect from marriage, where do you see yourselves in five or ten years, how will you change together, what are you looking forward to about married life.
- Also, are there any things you want to promise to your partner (to love and cherish)?
For those guys reading this, I promise you can do it all without sounding too mushy – my husband did!
- Use a line from a favorite song/poem/movie (without making it cliché – i.e. don’t use ‘you complete me’ or Celine’s ‘I will always love you’).
- Take one memory and explain how that memory symbolizes/shows your relationship and how it will be in married life.
- Take the traditional vows (for richer or poorer, in sickness and health...) and adapt each to fit yourselves as a couple.
We wouldn’t suggest copying someone else’s vows, but our team likes these vows! If you’re completely stuck, try this sample of vows for a small piece of inspiration. Even though "I love you this much" is fairly long, we wanted to include it because it's so sweet!
If you and your fiancé decide to surprise each other with your vows, read your rough draft to family and friends who know your relationship with your fiancé. Ask them for honest feedback on what you’ve written. Most importantly, keep in mind that your vows are an expression of your love.
Now it’s time to practice, practice, practice! Make sure that you are comfortable with the final version of your vows, so you won’t forget part of it during the ceremony.
Have a backup plan. Type two copies and attach them to note cards. Carry one with you while you walk down the aisle and give one to your officiant, ring bearer to hold with the rings, maid of honor or best man. If you have a last minute case of nerves, or drop your note card somewhere, you will have an extra copy close at hand!