Everyone wants the perfect vows spoken at their wedding. You mix hysterical moments, tear-jerking pronouncements of love and gratitude for everyone in the room all into a three-minute speech—leaving your partner and the rest of the guests misty and breathless from the power of your words. After all, you really do feel that strongly about this marriage and your partner, and you want the world to know. So, you and your partner decide to write your own vows, preferably a few months ahead of the ceremony (you don’t want to go against the clock, trust us). You have a pen and a blank piece of paper and all the love and admiration in the world for the person you’re spending the rest of your life with. Now what?
First of all, give yourself a break. This arguably could be the most important thing you’ve ever written, and you’ll be speaking these words to your partner in front of all your family and friends. It’s a lot, so a bit of writer’s block is to be expected, and a blank piece of paper can be mighty intimidating at the beginning. So, get yourself comfortable, grab a glass of wine or cup of tea, and get started.
The beginning step should be to talk to your partner, and get on the same page with them as far as mutual expectations go. You should both agree on the tone and level of the vows, so that one isn’t lighter or funnier or significantly shorter than the other. You don’t want to show them up, or be shown up yourself. Make a promise to keep them relatively level, even while keeping them private until the big day. You both will feel much more at ease moving forward with this agreement.
Next, start marking up that blank page. Write down outlines, stories, bullet points, or quotes just to get going. Once you have some thoughts on paper, start a few different categories:
There has to be a balance time-wise, so keep that in mind. Set yourself up for maximum nostalgia with photos, special songs, or old letters or notes. Remember, some of the most honest and pure emotions you might have will likely come from some of these older memories. Keep them all out and accessible, and you’ll find some gems in there.
It’s important at this point to narrow down the important things you need to say in your vows. A vow is a sacred promise, so you probably want to make an actual promise. This doesn’t have to be solemn, but it should illustrate the “through thick and thin” part of the marriage. It could be light, like promising to always parallel park for the other or get rid of spiders in the house, or more meaningful, like always kissing each other good night without exception. Demonstrating your commitment is the thought that you want to say.
Life won’t always be easy and joyful. Admitting that there have been tough times and likely some ahead shows everyone that your strength together can overcome these stressful moments. And nobody is perfect…namely, you. There are certainly things about you that drives your partner crazy, and owning that while hinting that you lovingly tolerate your partner’s imperfections is sweet and meaningful.
If there are quotes from songs, poetry or movies that are either meaningful to you both, or just say what you’re feeling better than you can, write a few of them out and say them out loud. Again, a chance here to be emotional or funny; just make sure you keep a balance.
Now that you’ve got some ideas down, it’s time to start narrowing things down. You’re going to want to write two or three drafts eventually, but after you write the first draft, you might want to just walk away from it for a few days. Keep it in your thoughts, but a little space and rereading it after some time is a good idea. Maybe you need just one more draft to get it where you want!
Now you’ve got the final draft. You’re almost there. Practice it out loud a few times, and try some different inflections and pauses. Rehearsing can also help you control your emotions while you are speaking; a few tears or giggles might be expected, but you want to feel confident enough to get through it without breaking down. You might also try reciting to a friend or parent to see how it sounds to them. Once you feel you’ve got it down, make sure you write it down. You can’t count on being too polished and perfect during such an emotional time. Plus, you’ll likely want to keep a copy as a remembrance of your special day.
Now take a deep breath, look into your partner’s eyes, and let the words come out. You’ll see how much it means right away.
Do you have any tips on writing vows? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!