Are you allowed to write your own vows?
First and foremost, check if you’re actually allowed to read out your own vows. Some religious officiants may want you to read a specific set of vows on the day you get married. And sometimes officiants will want to hear your vows beforehand, no matter how accommodating or friendly they are.
Think, but don’t think
One of the problems many people have when they set aside time to write their vows is brain-block, sometimes felt as complete despair. You get your quiet time, your pen, your paper and BOOM… nothing. This is completely normal.
You will need to think at some point, but let that happen when you’re at the editing and refining stage. Rather than sitting down and saying ‘now I am going to write my vows’ why not write on a notepad (phone or paper) every time you get a thought or idea that could work.
Perhaps you’re munching through your morning bacon and cheese croissant and you remember the first time you saw your fiancee was in the queue for a croissant in Paris, jot it down! Or perhaps you’re out for drinks and you hear a song that reminds you of the first time you danced together on a night out, laughing uncontrollably at the semi-professional moves he thought he was impressing you with. Whatever the thought, however random, jot it down.
What does marriage mean to you?
Remember vows aren’t designed to be written like a love letter, they are designed to be promises that you will keep forever, for better and for worse. For this reason, you need to think about what marriage means to you.
It’s likely to mean lots of different things, like always being there through the roughest of times and the happiest times, and always seeing the best in each other, no matter how difficult. The meaning of marriage can also have very individual attachments. Like agreeing to disagree over whether or not chocolate ice cream or mint choc chip ice cream is better. Or always agreeing to change the light bulbs, no matter what. So approach this meaning with both the deepest of feelings, and the lightest of feelings as well and you should find what you write down gives you lots of potential material for your vows. If you are doing a vow renewal, then you can definitely say a lot more about the married life.
Do lots of research into vows other people have used, songs, religious vows and take a look at the most common set of vows people read out to each other – ‘for richer for poorer’ etc.
You can find inspiration from these vows and even incorporate some of the words or meanings into your own vows. You may find inspiration in the most unusual of places, but if something has struck a chord with you, it’s worthy of your attention and consideration.
You can even research on actual legal responsibilities of married couples in your country, rephrase them to sound less legalistic, animate the words a little bit, and use them to make sweet and memorable promises to your partner.
What’s your style?
When you have lots of ideas written down, see if you have already got a style forming. Are you trying to be incredibly romantic? Poetic and funny? Cute and sweet? Again knowing exactly the sort of tone you’re going for will make it much easier to shape your vows, and swap and change words if they don’t quite feel right.
For example if you’re going for romantic and funny, you may have ‘I promise to love you with all my heart, every single day’ and you could add ‘even when the football is on and you’re getting in the way of the TV’.
Remember you’re being watched
Obviously, you’ll have full focus on your beautiful partner, but at the same time you must remember you’re being heard by all your friends and family, and theirs. You don’t want to cross the line and cause offence during your big moment in your romantic wedding so think carefully about any vows that could make guests feel uncomfortable. If you’re unsure, seek advice from a friend or family member.
Keep it short and sweet
Remember you’re getting to the very heart of why you want to marry this person, you’re not telling your life story. You want your vows to last a minute or under and you should know when you practise out loud if you’ve gotten to the heart of what you want to say. If you feel you haven’t and it’s way too long, this is where you will need to get editing. And remember to keep everything you have gotten rid of, just in case you change your mind and want to put something back in.
Words may sound amazing on paper but they’re no use if you can’t say them out loud. You have to speak the words and imagine you’re saying them to your partner.
Something that reads well may simply feel uncomfortable to say, or you may find the sentence sounds like it means something completely different when you speak it. Don’t be afraid to read them out loud to a family member for a second opinion if you think you need one, just make sure the family member is the kind and listening type, not the critical, non-emotional type. You need encouragement and constructive criticism, not crushing banter!
This and many other pieces of advise are part of our full destination wedding planning. Contact us if you are interested to find out more!