Articles

Great Advice for Wedding Planning

Words of Love - Personalize Your Vows

by Sam Milam

Deja Vu Studios

To be or not to be, that is the question? Oh wait, wrong event. The question still remains though, to write your own vows or recite the traditional vows. You are deep in the wedding planning process now and you've reached the part about the exchanging of vows. You've known for years that you would really love to write your own vows, but you aren't sure where to begin. The very first step you should take before writing your own vows is making sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to vow writing. If you aren't equally committed, it will show in your vows. There is no right or wrong answer to traditional versus DIY vows; just what is right for you as a couple.

So you've decided that you will write your own vows. You can do it! You will need to consider a few steps to prepare and polish them before and for your ceremony. The most important step is being true to who you are. It's easy to get caught up in other people's words and romantic (and scripted!) tear jerkers in movies, but this day is about your love and only you know how to truly illustrate that love, whether it be funny or serious, reciting a sonnet or a rap, speaking for 20 seconds or five minutes, just be you.

Communicate your plans to write your vows with your chosen officiant. Different religious officiants have different guidelines that they follow. Some may require you to recite all or part of the traditional vows in addition to your own vows. They may also request to view your written vows before the ceremony, so allow yourselves enough time to prepare them beforehand.

Work out some details together as a couple. The structure of the vows is important if you want them to go hand in hand. You most likely don't want one person to have light and funny vows while the other is serious and heartfelt. By communicating, you can find that perfect balance of funny and serious that feels authentic to you as a couple. Other details to figure out are whether you want to write them together or separately, whether you want to share them for the first time before the wedding or make it a surprise for the ceremony, the length, a due date (there have been many a bride or groom that scrambled to write their vows the night before the wedding!), and the general tone. You are including your friends and family in this bond of love, so it is usually best to leave out embarrassing moments, too many inside jokes, or code words that would leave people feeling confused. They want to feel and understand how you feel towards each other and share in that moment.

Seek out inspiration through research. Look at traditional vows, poetry, music lyrics, Shakespeare, favorite quotes, or movies. Jot down anything and everything that catches your eye and feels true to your relationship. Sit down with your partner and talk about your relationship from the beginning. Bring up your favorite memories and moments. Write down significant experiences that strengthened your relationship. Think of everything you love about your partner, the reasons you are excited about marrying them, and the promises that you would be happy to make and the ones that don't quite fit.

Write more than you need. Start out with a list of ideas. All of those quotes and poetry and happy memories can go on that list. Write down everything you love about your partner, key memories that define your relationship, and on and on. Once you have compiled your list, you can start going through it over a small period of time (a few days or so) and see which items really start to stand out to you as the best choice to incorporate into your vows.

Pare it down. You've got this massive list of love-filled words, now it's time to cut the weight and keep what stands out to you the most. Vows typically stay under a minute per person, but this moment is ultimately yours, so do what feels most authentic to you. If you have a lot that you want to share, but don't want to share it all at the ceremony, you can always write it in a letter to give to your partner the morning of the wedding.

You've made your list, and pared it down. Now it's time to put it all together. This should be the easy part. Just let the words flow as you imagine saying them to your true love on the big day. For this first draft, it's ok if it feels too short or too long. Just get the words out in a way that feels right because you will revise it later if it needs it. And then ...

Take a break. Walk away from the vows for at least a few days, preferably a week. It can feel all-consuming in the thick of writing them. By stepping away for a moment, you can clear your mind and focus on other things. The space will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes and see if any revisions need to be done.

You are feeling good about what you have, and now it is time to practice! Rehearsing your vows will enable you to see how the words flow out loud and will give you some practice with looking up while reading instead of staring down at a sheet of paper the entire time. You will feel more confident reciting them in front of an audience, too. There's a reason you have a ceremony rehearsal. Practicing the words that you will say at that ceremony is just as important.

The day is here. Your vows are written. You are ready to go. There's no need to memorize the words, unless you really want to. You are already going to feel a little bit of happy stress and excitement on your wedding day, so having a little piece of paper with your written vows can be a comfort in case you lose your footing when reciting them. Any prose stumbles are completely acceptable and  understandable. No matter what, though, writing and voicing your own personal vows in front of your soon-to-be spouse and closest family and friends will add a deeply personal touch to the event and will be a highlight of your wedding day.

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To be or not to be, that is the question? Oh wait, wrong event. The question still remains though, to write your own vows or recite the traditional vows. You are deep in the wedding planning process now and you've reached the part about the exchanging of vows. You've known for years that you would really love to write your own vows, but you aren't sure where to begin. The very first step you should take before writing your own vows is making sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to vow writing. If you aren't equally committed, it will show in your vows. There is no right or wrong answer to traditional versus DIY vows; just what is right for you as a couple.

So you've decided that you will write your own vows. You can do it! You will need to consider a few steps to prepare and polish them before and for your ceremony. The most important step is being true to who you are. It's easy to get caught up in other people's words and romantic (and scripted!) tear jerkers in movies, but this day is about your love and only you know how to truly illustrate that love, whether it be funny or serious, reciting a sonnet or a rap, speaking for 20 seconds or five minutes, just be you.

Communicate your plans to write your vows with your chosen officiant. Different religious officiants have different guidelines that they follow. Some may require you to recite all or part of the traditional vows in addition to your own vows. They may also request to view your written vows before the ceremony, so allow yourselves enough time to prepare them beforehand.

Work out some details together as a couple. The structure of the vows is important if you want them to go hand in hand. You most likely don't want one person to have light and funny vows while the other is serious and heartfelt. By communicating, you can find that perfect balance of funny and serious that feels authentic to you as a couple. Other details to figure out are whether you want to write them together or separately, whether you want to share them for the first time before the wedding or make it a surprise for the ceremony, the length, a due date (there have been many a bride or groom that scrambled to write their vows the night before the wedding!), and the general tone. You are including your friends and family in this bond of love, so it is usually best to leave out embarrassing moments, too many inside jokes, or code words that would leave people feeling confused. They want to feel and understand how you feel towards each other and share in that moment.

Seek out inspiration through research. Look at traditional vows, poetry, music lyrics, Shakespeare, favorite quotes, or movies. Jot down anything and everything that catches your eye and feels true to your relationship. Sit down with your partner and talk about your relationship from the beginning. Bring up your favorite memories and moments. Write down significant experiences that strengthened your relationship. Think of everything you love about your partner, the reasons you are excited about marrying them, and the promises that you would be happy to make and the ones that don't quite fit.

Write more than you need. Start out with a list of ideas. All of those quotes and poetry and happy memories can go on that list. Write down everything you love about your partner, key memories that define your relationship, and on and on. Once you have compiled your list, you can start going through it over a small period of time (a few days or so) and see which items really start to stand out to you as the best choice to incorporate into your vows.

Pare it down. You've got this massive list of love-filled words, now it's time to cut the weight and keep what stands out to you the most. Vows typically stay under a minute per person, but this moment is ultimately yours, so do what feels most authentic to you. If you have a lot that you want to share, but don't want to share it all at the ceremony, you can always write it in a letter to give to your partner the morning of the wedding.

You've made your list, and pared it down. Now it's time to put it all together. This should be the easy part. Just let the words flow as you imagine saying them to your true love on the big day. For this first draft, it's ok if it feels too short or too long. Just get the words out in a way that feels right because you will revise it later if it needs it. And then ...

Take a break. Walk away from the vows for at least a few days, preferably a week. It can feel all-consuming in the thick of writing them. By stepping away for a moment, you can clear your mind and focus on other things. The space will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes and see if any revisions need to be done.

You are feeling good about what you have, and now it is time to practice! Rehearsing your vows will enable you to see how the words flow out loud and will give you some practice with looking up while reading instead of staring down at a sheet of paper the entire time. You will feel more confident reciting them in front of an audience, too. There's a reason you have a ceremony rehearsal. Practicing the words that you will say at that ceremony is just as important.

The day is here. Your vows are written. You are ready to go. There's no need to memorize the words, unless you really want to. You are already going to feel a little bit of happy stress and excitement on your wedding day, so having a little piece of paper with your written vows can be a comfort in case you lose your footing when reciting them. Any prose stumbles are completely acceptable and  understandable. No matter what, though, writing and voicing your own personal vows in front of your soon-to-be spouse and closest family and friends will add a deeply personal touch to the event and will be a highlight of your wedding day.

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