Tips for Creating the Perfect Wedding Vows
Written by Micaela Fischer | Photography by Jana Blue Photography
Without a doubt, your wedding will be full of magical moments. But one of the most meaningful moments will be by far the exchanging of your vows. After all, they’re the whole reason you’re getting married in the first place! For a few short minutes, all eyes will be on the two of you as you pledge your love and devotion to each other. In fact, your vows might just be the most important words you ever speak! But no pressure, right? With everything hinging on these all-important oaths, you want them to pack the right punch. So, if you’re dying to learn the secret to creating memorable, personalized wedding vows, look no further!
START PLANNING EARLY
With so many other things to arrange, don’t let your vows get lost in all the chaos. More than any other part of the wedding, your vows should truly embody the spirit of your relationship.
This is definitely not something you want to rush! You’d hate to be scrambling at the last second and resort to snagging something subpar off the internet.
Have an open and honest conversation with your partner as early as possible to discuss your vows. If you plan on having a religious ceremony, keep in mind that some religions require the use of traditional wording in your vows. But others can be more flexible. So, always be sure to keep your officiant in the loop. That way, you can be aware of any limitations you might face.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET CREATIVE
If you want to break the mold and move beyond traditional vows, there are plenty of options. The beauty of planning a wedding is that you can really do whatever you want! Sure, there’s a customary format, but feel free to throw the rulebook out the window. You might shake things up by reading a beloved poem or moving passage from a favorite book. If either of you is a musician, you might even consider playing something meaningful that represents you as a couple. It’s totally up to you!
MAKE THEM YOUR OWN
If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you might even be so bold as to write your vows from scratch. Going this route takes a bit more work. But nothing will be more gratifying than speaking the vows you wrote as you gaze into the eyes of your betrothed. But where do you even begin with such a daunting task? Let’s break it down.
START WITH THE EASY STUFF
Before you go lunging for a pen and paper, there’s some preliminary fieldwork you should do first. Like with any major project, writing your vows involves a process. Following these first steps will help tremendously when the time comes to start writing.
Communication is everything: First and foremost, check in with each other to make sure you both agree on writing your own vows. This might seem obvious, but it’s best to have all your bases covered. After all, while you might have your heart totally set on writing your vows, your soon-to-be spouse might be a bit iffy about it. Maybe writing isn’t their forte. Or perhaps they just don’t feel comfortable being that vulnerable in front of all your friends and family. Whatever the reason, you would hate to pressure them into doing something they’re not fully onboard with. On the other hand, they might be just as thrilled by the idea as you are!
Time to talk tone: Once you both are on the same page about writing your vows, it’s time to talk about tone. Are you dreaming of poetic and romantic vows that’ll leave your crowd in tears? Or maybe something casual and funny? A lot of these decisions depend heavily on your personalities. Take some time to think about how you can incorporate the best parts of yourselves into your vows.
Agreeing on a general tone is a good way to prevent any embarrassing surprises on the day of the wedding. After all, how mortifying would it be if your fiancé/e delivered a long, heartfelt speech and you followed up by jokingly vowing to never watch your favorite Netflix shows without them? What might seem clever and funny at first could turn out to be hopelessly awkward if you don’t plan ahead.
Better together?: Along the same lines, it’s important to decide early on just how much of your vows you’ll write together. Maybe you’re the type of couple dead-set on tackling everything side-by-side. Collaboration can be a beautiful thing. You might turn it into a romantic bonding time for the two of you to reflect on your relationship and future.
Or maybe, after you’ve settled on a tone, you want to keep your vows a total surprise! Going this route will add a little extra thrill on your big day as you each eagerly await to hear what the other wrote for you. Many couples do a combination of working together and separately. There might be some parts that just make sense to collaborate on, while others you might want to keep secret.
Get inspired: If you’re stumped on how to format your vows, there are plenty of samples out there to help inspire you. Read a large variety of different examples and save the ones that speak to you. You can mix and match elements you like from your favorites to get a bare-bones idea for what you might want. You can even get inspiration from your favorite love songs, poems and stories.
Consider printing out specific lyrics to keep them nearby as you write. You might even be able to find imaginative ways to weave them into your vows!
Do some soul-searching: Before you start writing your vows, find a quiet, stress-free time when you can be alone to really think about your relationship. Create a romantic and relaxed atmosphere to get yourself in the right mindset. Pour yourself a glass of wine, coffee, hot tea or whatever else puts you most at ease. Maybe even turn on some music that reminds you of your honey. Just get comfortable and reflect on what this marriage will mean to you. What specific qualities do you adore about your spouse-to-be? What are you most looking forward to in your future together? What do you want to promise? These are the questions your vows should answer.
LET’S MOVE ON TO WRITING
Now that you have a general idea of how you want your vows to sound, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty of content. Practice some free-writing. Keep a pen and paper nearby as you think about the questions above. Then, whenever you feel ready, just jot down your thoughts. It might even be a good idea to set a timer (about 10 minutes or so) in which you allow yourself to freely write whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t necessarily have to make sense yet. In fact, you don’t even have to write in complete sentences! For now, just allow the pen to move across the page completely uninhibited. What’s important is that you get all your thoughts out in front of you. This is an old trick that professional writers use to kick writer’s block to the curb. And it can be just as useful as a starting point for writing your vows. Remember, the blank page is not your friend. It’s better to have a page full of messy scribbling than nothing at all.
Create an outline: You have a piece of paper filled with your semi-coherent, love-sick ramblings. Now what? It’s time to make the magic happen!
You’ll want to start by creating an outline. This will help you develop the structure you want your vows to take. Circle the big ideas from your free- writing exercise and expand on them a bit more. Then, put them into an order of importance and relevance. Maybe you want to open with how you first met, followed by the things you love about them and then close with whatever you wish to promise them. Once you have this rough sketch, writing your first draft will be much easier.
Prepare for multiple drafts: Once you’ve written your first draft, take a break. Put it in your desk drawer, or close out of that document, and just walk away for a few days — maybe more. This really helps to clear your head. So, when you finally come back, you’re looking at it with fresh eyes. Distancing yourself makes the revision process so much easier since areas that need improvement will be more obvious.
It’s very possible that you’ll have to repeat this process several times before you end up with a version you feel satisfied with. At the same time, know when to call it quits. Be careful that you don’t become overly critical of your work. There is no such thing as perfection. You’ll drive yourself crazy if that’s what you’re striving for.
Keep things brief: For the benefit of your guests, shorten your vows to one or two minutes, tops. Ceremonies have a rhythm to them, and you want to make sure you keep things rolling. If they start getting a bit too lengthy, it’s probably time to make some edits. If there are things you want to say, but can’t fit them in, consider putting them in a letter for your partner to read before the ceremony. Or, you might even find a way to work them into a toast during your reception.
THE HOME STRETCH
Now you have something that resembles a final draft for your very own wedding vows. Congratulations, you’re almost done! Now, it’s time to work on the finishing touches.
Show them to someone you trust: Having a second opinion can give you valuable insight into what changes you might want to make. Consider showing your vows to someone you trust — like a parent, or an attendant. This is especially helpful if there are places in your vows that you feel just aren’t working. Ask for honest feedback and be open to critique. But remember, ultimately, you’re in complete control of what makes it into the final version. So, if you disagree with their advice, there’s no pressure to follow it. But you might be pleasantly surprised by the suggestions they give you.
Practice makes perfect: This might go without saying, but you should always practice your vows before your wedding day. Play around with your delivery by placing emphasis and emotion on different words until it sounds just right. If you feel comfortable, you could even try practicing with someone else. This might be the same person who helped you proofread. While you don’t have to memorize them (although that is a nice touch!), you should be able to recite your vows fluidly without stumbling over your words. Even if you do memorize them, it’s a good idea to keep a copy on-hand. You’d hate to get a sudden case of stage fright mid-ceremony and completely forget your words!
It’s best to have your vows typed and printed. But if handwritten, make sure your script is clearly legible and free of any margin notes. You don’t want anything to distract you while you’re reading.
READY TO GET STARTED?
While creating personalized vows requires a lot of thought and time, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you keep an open line of communication with each other and break the process down into smaller, more manageable steps, you’ll be golden.
Whether you decide to write your own vows, keep things traditional or do a combination of both, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to plan. Enough preparation will ensure that your vows sound streamlined and sincere. So, when the moment finally arrives, you’ll be able to speak from the heart and focus on what really matters: promising your commitment to the love of your life.