10 Simple Steps to Writing Wedding Vows
Your Wedding Vows
The truth of wedding vows is this: from the moment of the proposal, both the bride and groom constantly worry about what to say and how to say it. After all, it is the one time you will make public promises to each other that will last a lifetime. Determining what you will say and how you will say it can seem like a monumental task, but with a little planning and these ten steps, your wedding vows will be both personal and memorable.
Meet with your officiate. Many churches place limitations on what types of vows can be used, and some religious groups insist on using the vow exclusive to that group. You want to make sure your personal vows are allowed, and if they are, what limitations you may have. In many cases, you may be permitted to alter pre-set vows in small ways to make them more personal. Your officiate is an excellent source of ideas for the writing portion as well. He or she can help you examine your relationship and find the unique aspects that will make your vows special.
Interview each other. Yes, you have spent a great deal of time together, but most couples don’t spend their time together discussing why they love each other or what they like best about their relationship. When asked why you love someone, most of us know why it’s just hard to express in words. The following questions are designed to elicit responses that will help you articulate your feelings.
- What is your earliest memory of your fiancé?
- When did you first know you were in love?
- What is your favorite thing about your fiancé?
- What does marriage mean to you?
- How do you think marriage will change your relationship?
- What is different/better in your life since meeting your fiancé?
- What do you miss most when you are apart?
- Where do you see yourself in 10, 20, 30 years?
- If your spouse could only fulfill one promise you in your lifetimes, what would you choose?
- What are you looking forward to about married life?
- What words do you think of when you think of love and marriage?
A little more research. Do you have a favorite song, poem, or line from a play or movie that you have always shared? Would it make a good reference point for your vows? A little research into famous quotes or great love scenes can help too. Or, maybe a famous saying spins your mind off in another direction: “Shakespeare may have said, ‘Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,’ but since meeting Joe, I know love goes where it is needed. I needed Joe, and he was there.” Inspiration can come from anywhere at the most unpredictable times, so don’t give up until you find just the right thing to say.
Will you share? Some couples like to coordinate their vows so that they appear to “go together;” other couples want to be totally surprised by their partner’s vows on the day of the ceremony. Before you write your vows, make sure you are in agreement on this issue. If there is disagreement, come to a compromise such as you will write surprise vows, but they will follow the same outline of content. Both of you need to be comfortable with the decision and comfortable writing and giving your vows.
Write an outline. There are no hard and fast rules as to the order or content of wedding vows, but most contain these three ingredients: a salutation, a declaration of love for your fiancée, and a promise about your marriage. Start with these three things, filling in each part with the ideas you’ve gathered from your interview and research.
Make it fit. Once you have the core elements, fill in the remaining sentiments you want to express or stories you want to relate. In total, you want each set of vows to last from one to three minutes a piece. The average rate of well-articulated speech is 120 – 150 words per minute, so your vows should range from 375 to 750 words.
Make sure your vows fit your wedding and your personality as well. The words you are using and the language used should be familiar to you. You want to sound like yourself, not like the dictionary. Your vows should fit the style of your wedding. Using rock and roll lyrics in your vows after violins played Pachelbel’s Canon in D for your entrance may not be a good idea.
Practice, practice, practice. You’ll want to practice presenting your vows. If you’re going to keep the vows a secret until your wedding day, find someone you trust to listen to your delivery. Make sure you speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Ask for honest feedback and make adjustments as needed. Remember to time your practices so that your vows do not go too long.
Share. Have your officiate, fiancé, parents, and anyone else you feel appropriate, read and approve your vows. You and your fiancé may need to adjust the vows so that they “go together.” If you decided to keep your vows secret until the wedding day, have the same person read both of your vows so any changes will be compatible with each set of vows.
Alterations. After you’ve gotten feedback from your officiate and any others you want, you’ll want to edit your vows. After re-writing practice and time your delivery again.
Memorize. When they’re perfect, memorize your vows. This is one time when you don’t want to have to read from a piece of paper. You want to look into your fiancé’s eyes when you deliver your vows. You may want to have written notes, or an outline tucked away somewhere. Your officiant can help by holding your notes, or even assisting in the delivery.
Your wedding vows should be the most meaningful and memorable of your wedding memories. By following these ten steps, and planning ahead, you can create personal vows that will make your wedding day the special memory you always dreamed it would be.
Let Your Officiant Help
If this all seems overwhelming, your officiant will be able to give you more personalized help. If you’re looking for an Officiant that will take the extra time you need check out I Choose You Ceremonies. Sherri is fabulous and will make sure every aspect of your wedding ceremony will be customized for you.
If you are looking for more wedding planning advice check out our blog archives.