A Guide To Writing Your Own Vows
i still do...
There is no better way to personalize your wedding ceremony than to write your own wedding vows. It's an opportunity to lay the building blocks of your marriage, share your love story with your guests, and exchange meaningful words with your other half.
And while that expression of love is beautiful and totally worth it, it can also be absolutely terrifying. Baring your heart in front of not only your fiancé, but family and friends, is not the easiest thing to do and requires an immense amount of vulnerability.
To help you conquer this task, I'm sharing with you my top 9 tips to writing your own vows plus a free workbook to guide you through the process.
Writing your own personalized vows can be a daunting task, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write them - it might take longer than you expect. The sooner you begin the process, the sooner you can cross it off your never-ending wedding to-do list.
I suggest having your vows written at least 3 weeks before the big day, since those last few weeks are filled with many last-minute to-dos. You don't want to be scrambling to write these treasured promises under pressure.
Decide HOW TO Write Them
It's important to get on the same page with your fiancé about how you are going to write your vows. Some couples choose to write them together (i.e. have the same vows) while others choose to write them separately (i.e. have personalized vows). Spend some time deciding which method works best for you and your ceremony.
If you opt for writing your vows separately, be sure to also decide whether you will read them to each other before your wedding or if you will keep them a surprise.
Pros For Writing Them Together
- puts the pressure on both of you rather than each of you individually
- simplifies the process as you can work on the task together
- knowing what you both are going to say before the big day may relieve any anxiety
Pros For Writing Them Separately
- allows for more personal flair and creative liberties
- can create a more intimate experience
- the element of surprise (if you choose to not read them to each other before hand)
Note: It's totally possible to a combo of both! My husband and I wrote personalized vows together, read them to each other beforehand, and ended our vows with the same mission statement.
Decide on A Structure + tone
Your wedding vows are the building blocks of your marriage, and for the sake of analogy, you don't want to enter into your marriage with the blueprint to two different houses. Make sure, whether you decide to write your vows together or separately, to create a simple structure you both can follow and set the tone for your vows together. Consider these questions together:
- Do you want to create a template to follow or find one?
- How long do you want your vows to be?
- Do you want to include any jokes or keep things more traditional?
- Are there any topics that should be off limits?
- Do you want to incorporate any traditional, or religious, elements in your vows?
Deciding on these things should help you establish the purpose of your marriage, decide on intentional promises, and create an atmosphere of intimacy that comes from writing your own vows.
Reflect On Your Relationship
Before you even begin to writing your vows, spend some time reflecting on your fiancé and relationship. This time will help get your creative juices flowing. Here are 10 thought-provoking questions to get you started:
- What we your first impressions of your fiancé? Have those thoughts changed or lingered?
- How has your life changed since meeting your fiancé?
- What is it about your fiancé that made you fall in love? Favorite qualities?
- How does he or she inspire you?
- How did you know you were in love?
- What makes your relationship work?
- What are some challenges you've faced together, and how did you overcome them?
- What are some ways you've supported each other?
- What do you want to accomplish together?
- Why do you want to be married, and be married to your fiancé?
While it's important your vows come from your heart and be a reflection of your relationship, it might be helpful to gather some inspiration, especially if you are struggling with how to express such deep feelings.
Google and Pinterest are going to be your best friends here! You can pull inspiration from poetry, your favorite love quotes from books or movies, or by reading other wedding vows. The Bible is also full of beautiful inspiration, hence the popularity of 1 Corinthians 13!
If you find a line you love, jot it down now so you have it for when you are ready to start writing your own vows.
Just Start Writing
If you are anything like me, you may feel paralyzed by the overwhelming feeling of wanting to get your wedding vows right on the first draft, but don't waste your time by judging your writing. Instead, understand that this is going to be a process, and one that may include several rounds of edits.
Right now it's more important to just get your thoughts out on paper than to get them perfect. Think of this part of the process as a brain dump - just get all the details, promises, and gushy feelings you may want to include in your vows (plus any lines you found during the inspiration stage) out. It's okay if your thoughts are messy, out of order, or imperfect. You will have the opportunity to go back and rework them in the next part.
After you have brain dumped everything, give yourself a day or two, or longer if needed, away from it all to clear your mind.
Edit and Shorten
Now that you've had a chance to clear your mind, it's time to make sense of your brain dump. Refer back to the structure and tone you established earlier in the process, if you need to, and begin piecing your vows together.
Keep in mind as you are editing, that as much as you may want to include your entire history, gushy feelings, and inside jokes, your guests may not feel the same way. The most impactful vows, are those that get to the point. Anywhere between 250-300 words, or 1-2 minutes, is a good goal to shoot for.
Repeat this step 2-3 times, if needed, after your initial edit. Remember, what is most important here, is that these words come from your heart, which you know, is messy and imperfect. Don't make yourself crazy with too many edits.
Trust me when I say, you don't want the first reading of your vows to be on your wedding day. Reading your vows aloud, in front of a mirror, will not only help you work out any nervous ticks, but will give you an opportunity to catch any wonky sentence structures. If you would like additional help, you can grab a family member or close friend to proof read your vows and/or practice in front of.
DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU
There is a lot of wisdom and advice to be shared, but at the end of the day, you have to choose what is best for you and your fiancé. Your wedding day is your first day as one, and it goes by so much faster than you expect, so make the most of it!
Writing your own vows can feel overwhelming, but if you break it down into bite-sized tasks, like the ones above, the process will be much more manageable and you'll have beautifully written vows in no time! What love quote would you include in your vows? I'd love to know!