Writing wedding vows can be a challenge but the reward is intimate, personal wedding vows that turn a predictable wedding ceremony into a customized celebration of a couple’s love.
Why Write Your Own Vows?
Couples may choose to write their own wedding vows for a number of reasons. For some couples, the opportunity to write vows rather than simply recite traditional wedding vows is a way to personalize the wedding ceremony and express feelings that may not be adequately rendered in formulaic vows. If a couple does not practice a particular religion, or if the bride and groom are of different faiths, writing vows can help them incorporate their own spiritualism into the ceremony. For many couples, however, the attraction of writing wedding vows is simply because they wish their ceremony to be as unique and timeless as their relationship, and personal vows can help it become so.
A couple will exchange their wedding vows in front of dozens or hundreds of family members, friends, and acquaintances, some of whom may initially be strangers as the families come together for the first time. This can be intimidating for some brides and grooms, particularly if they are not comfortable with public speaking. Finding the proper inspiration and motivation to write their vows can help make the words flow more naturally, and an inspired writer is one who will write from the heart.
Couples can find inspiration for their vows in many places, such as:
- Poetry or music, particularly love songs
- Traditional vows or other romantic ceremonies
- Romantic moments from their relationship
- Romantic moments from favorite movies
The best inspiration, however, comes from the heart. Thinking about the soon-to-be-spouse – that first attraction, first kiss, the first flutter of love – can offer plenty of inspiration to create the perfect wedding vows.
What to Leave Out
Several types of sentiments, while they may help make the service memorable, are nevertheless inappropriate for wedding vows.
- Jokes can be too easily misinterpreted
- Very private matters, including physical intimacy, are best not mentioned
- Foreign languages should be kept to a minimum so all guests can understand the vows
The Act of Writing Wedding Vows
When a couple is ready to write their vows – which they may choose to do together or separately – they should work in an area free from distractions so they are able to focus on these special words. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus on hand for help in finding just the right phrase, but don’t rely on them too heavily – simple, sincere vows will be more memorable and impressive than vows filled with weighty words that may be difficult to pronounce. Writing vows can take time, even days or weeks, and starting early is prudent because it allows time for revision, editing, and even restarting if necessary. Couples should keep in mind that the presiding clergy may need to review the vows to ensure they are appropriate for the faith or venue, and enough time should be available to alter the vows if they are deemed unsuitable.
Wedding vows should be typed so there is no need to decipher handwriting or interpret revision marks. Choose a font size that is easy to read without holding the paper to one’s face, just in case a quick glance at the printed vows are necessary during the wedding ceremony. Ideally, the vows should be between 250 and 500 words, which is equivalent to a 2 to 4 minute speech: shorter vows may seem rushed and insincere, and longer vows will seem too drawn out and overdone.
What to Include
When writing personal wedding vows, there are several things that should be included in the sentiments.
- The words “I love you” – this may be obvious, but it can be easy to forget under the pressure of writing this momentous speech
- The idea of sticking together during both good and bad times
- A mention of faith and spirituality if desired
- The concepts of honor and respect toward one another
- The desire for a shared partnership
- Longevity of the relationship and how it is meant to last
After the Vows are Written
After writing the vows, the couple should first get them approved if necessary. It may also be wise to show them to other close friends or family members for their opinions – they may spot problems or omissions the couple would have missed. Both the bride and groom should practice their vows several times to become familiar with the spoken words, even to memorize them for the wedding day if possible.
Writing wedding vows can add personalization and flair to a wedding ceremony, whether they are used in place of more traditional sentiments or just as an addition to familiar vows. With careful writing and preparation, a couple can easily create meaningful, romantic vows that won’t sound scripted or predictable.