When it comes to writing wedding vows, the room is often split. Some find the thought of sharing their personal thoughts to be excruciating, while others wrote their vows months ago and (after half a gin and tonic) are happy to perform them to whoever will listen.
That’s ok, we’re all different. Just like vows.
Like everything in your wedding, how you do your vows is entirely up to you. You can use classic vows from times gone by or create a classic-personal mash up. You can find a template (oh my god, we have one below – so handy) and fill in the gaps. You can throw templates and caution to the wind and write whatever you feel. You can write your vows as a couple, you can write them on your own, you can show each other in advance or you can deliver a couple of big, romantic on the day reveals.
For anyone thinking about penning their own promises, we’ve put together a Write Your Own Vows Guide to help you through the process. Whether you’re crouching in the ‘please don’t make me do this’ camp, or sailing on the ‘born to vow’ boat, we’re here to answer your questions, inspire your thinking and ultimately, get you vowing like a sexy, romantic hero.
First of all, get talking.
Before you put pen to paper, make sure you and your partner have had a conversation, starting with – do you both actually want to write your own vows? Your partner could be feeling physically ill at the thought of it, or they may like the thought of a more traditional ‘words from centuries before’ path. Talk through reasons, worries and expectations before you start free styling with your eternal promises, as vows work best if they’re in sync. Of course, how you do your vows is completely up to you, but we think it’s nice to have some balance. Equal in partnership, equal in vows.
Also – talk to your celebrant. If you’re getting married in a place of worship, check what the vow requirements are. Some religions may let you play around with the wording, while others may not be as flexible. If religion isn’t playing a part, it’s still a good idea to reach out as your celebrant may have some excellent pointers for you. Plus, it’s a good idea to let them know what you’re planning in terms of timing, delivery and style.
Do some research.
Have a look at what’s already out there. Even if you’re not planning to structure your vows or use any kind of template, it can still be helpful to check out what others have done. You might find something you really like, or you might just want to lie on the floor and claw your own eyes out. Either way, all research is good research. If you do see things you like, don’t feel you have to stick to one style! You might want to use a prompt from us, a quote from your favourite book, a line from Linda’s hideous wedding website and a sentence from something more traditional – rounded off with an adorable anecdote about your partner. There is no such thing as wedding vow plagiarism (we don’t think), so get on out there and do your thing.
Keep it consistent.
Once you’ve trawled the world wide web, it’s a good idea to settle on some kind of format you can both follow like a word count, a selection of sentence starters, or a template. While vows can technically be as long or as short as you want them to be, it’s a nice touch to have vows that complement each other’s in both content and length. If you’re keeping your vows secret until the ceremony, you could privately time yourselves or bring in a trusted pal to work out who’s said too much and who needs a little bit more.
Find your vibe.
With the structure all sorted, the next thing to think about is the vibe. Do you want humour? Tears? Have you been through something you both want to mention? Will you speak from deep within the soul or are you happier keeping it light? Whatever your style, the most important thing is to make sure you’re both comfortable. If poems about waves crashing onto the moonlit shore make one or both of you feel queasy, maybe now isn’t the time to whip one out.
Don’t feel intimidated by what you think your vows ‘should’ be. Flowery language and lofty sentiments aren’t the backbone of incredible vows, it’s all about who you and your partner actually are. It’s ok – in fact it’s beautiful – to talk about the little things that matter to you as a couple.
For example, you could tell Marvin he’s heaven personified with a touch that radiates exhilarating electrical currents and voice akin to a harp-strumming angel…or you could tell him you adore him for taking the rubbish out every Thursday, so you never have to touch the gross bags. If I was Marvin, I know what I’d rather hear.
Think about why you love each other.
Some days, this is the easiest task in the world. Other days (week six of lockdown anyone?) the romantic sentiments just don’t flow. That’s ok! Rather than trying to nail your vows in one go, we suggest you get started early (when you’re feeling loved-up) and add bits and pieces as they come to you. Did your partner just bring you a coffee in bed, or scrub the bathroom taps before your mum arrived? Did you catch sight of Marvin dragging those big orange bags down the driveway? Think about how these small gestures made you feel and write it all down. You’ll thank yourself later.
Not sure about promising to love them unconditionally with everything you have until one of you draws your final breath because who really knows what life will hold?That’s ok – you don’t have to. These vows are yours and yours alone. You could promise to do your best, to love with everything you have, or to just enjoy the amazing feeling of being in love right now.
If in doubt, reach out.
If words aren’t your thing but you really want to smash these vows out of the park, then by all means – ask for help. Someone out there (a writer, a friend, a nice lady you met in the Stuff comments section) will be able to take your ideas and help you structure them, so you feel as comfortable as humanly possible when it comes time to say them out loud. You want to feel proud of what you’re saying, what it means and how it sounds, so if you’re struggling – outsource. Your vows will be no less personal and perfect just because someone helped with the sentence structure.
No matter what you say, or how you say it, as long as you’re happy then it’s absolutely perfect. Writing your own wedding vows is just another excuse to tell your partner how delicious they are. Vows aren’t a stand-up routine, a heart-breaking monologue or the sum of your entire relationship…they’re just a few special words said to the person you love the most (in front of all the other people you love the most). Save the knee-slappers for your speech and enjoy making some promises that you really, really want to keep.
To get you started...
Questions and prompts.
How and when did you meet? What were your initial thoughts?
When did you first realise you loved this person?
When did you realise you wanted to marry this person?
What little things do they do that make you feel good?
What little things do you do that make them feel good?
What are their quirks?
What have they taught you?
What do you respect most about them?
What dreams, goals and values do you share?
What are you most excited for?
What makes your relationship strong?
What have you overcome? What are you working on?
A Very General Example Template
(Name). I adore you.
The first time we met, I thought…
Now, I think…
Thank you for…
I promise to…
Even when things feel hard, I’ll always…
You are my…
(Name). I loved you then, I love you now, I’ll love you forever.
Photo Credit - Meredith Lord