Vancouver Officiant Blog


How Do I Write My Own Vows?



Penning your own wedding vows is no easy task -- it’s like writing poetry, public speaking and having the deepest conversation of your life all at once. Putting your promises on paper is an emotional, eye-opening and often extremely memorable experience. Up for the challenge? Here's the homework you need to do (and the questions you should ask) to make your vows perfect.


Get Clearance

Make sure your ceremony officiant will actually allow personalized vows. Certain celebrants and houses of worship may require you to recite a specific set of traditional vows. And remember: Even some of the most accommodating officiants will want to review your words in advance.






Start Early

We can't say this enough: Don't leave writing your vows until the day before the wedding! You'll be too nervous, excited and rattled to give them the time and thought they deserve. Give yourselves at least a month, or work on your vows in that pocket of time after you've set up all your major vendors and before you have to start thinking about the details. Vow writing should be done in a relaxed, not rushed, frame of mind. Some loose deadlines to aim for: Try to get a first draft together about three weeks before the wedding and have your final version completed at least two days out.




Look to Tradition

To get inspired, start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows -- from your own religion, if you practice a certain faith, but others, as well -- to see what strikes a chord with you. You can incorporate these into the original words you write, or simply use them as a jumping-off point to base your personalized vows on.




Set the Tone

Before putting pen to paper, decide what overall tone you want to achieve. Humorous but touching? Poetic and romantic? It's your call -- the most important thing is that your vows ring true and sound like they're from your heart. One word of advice: While your vows can be lighthearted (or even hilarious), they should, in some way, acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you're about to make. One way to do that is to weave little jokes into traditional vows (for example: "I promise to love you, cherish you and always watch Monday Night Football with you").




Figure Out the Logistics

Make sure you and your fiance are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your own vows, or will you write them together? If you're writing them separately, will you want to run them by each other before the wedding? If you're writing them together, will they be completely different for each of you, or will you recite some of the same words and make the same promises to each other, as you would with traditional vows? If you want them to be a surprise on your wedding day, make sure you both send a copy of what you've written to your officiant or to one friend or family member so they can check that your vows are about the same length and similar in tone.




Make a Vow Date

When it's time to come up with the actual content of your vows, go out to dinner or set aside an evening at home to brainstorm. Talk about your relationship and what marriage means to each of you. Discuss what you expect from each other and the relationship. What are you most looking forward to about married life? Why did you decide to get married? What hard times have you gone through together? What have you supported each other through? What challenges do you envision in your future? What do you want to accomplish together? What makes your relationship tick? Answering these questions will help you make and keep your promises, and talking about your bond may expose your inner Wordsworth and help you come up with phrases and stories you can incorporate into your vows.




Schedule Some Alone Time

After chatting with your future spouse, take some self-reflection time to think about how you feel about your partner. What did you think when you first saw them? When did you realize you were in love? What do you most respect about your partner? How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate? What about them inspires you? What do you miss most about them when you're apart? What qualities do you most admire in each other? What do you have now that you didn't have before you met? You may be surprised how these answers may lead you to the perfect words.




Steal Ideas

Borrow freely from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts -- even from romantic movies. Jot down words and phrases that capture your feelings. Widely recognized works ring true for a reason.




Create an Outline

An outline can get you started by helping to establish a structure. For example, plan to first talk about how great your fiance is and then about how you work together as a couple; pause to quote your favorite writer and then go into your promises to each other.




Remember Your Audience

Don't make your vows so personal that they're cryptic -- or embarrassing! You've invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.




Time It Right

Don't make them too long -- aim for about one minute or so (it's longer than it sounds!). Your vows are the most important element of your ceremony, but that doesn't mean they should go on for hours. Get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you with your vows; pick the most important points and make them well. Save some thoughts for the reception toasts -- and for the wedding night.




Practice Out Loud (Seriously!)

These are words meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. Read your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences -- you don't want to get out of breath or stumble.



-- Special thanks to Alisa Tongg, a wedding celebrant



Read more: Wedding Vows & Readings: 20 Tips for Writing Your Own Wedding Vows – Wedding Planning – Wedding Ceremony http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-ceremony/articles/20-tips-for-writing-your-own-wedding-vows.aspx#ixzz2XGngEmLF
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How to Write Your Own Vows

How to Write Your Own Vows
Writing your own personalized wedding vows can be a daunting task, but it’s not quite as hard as it looks. Here are six easy steps that you can follow to write your own wedding vows. 
  1. Make sure that everyone is on the same page. Talk to your future spouse and your officiant and make sure everyone is okay with personalized wedding vows. Some religions require that you use the traditional wording, while others will allow you to write your own, as long as you include certain phrases. You’ll also want to make sure that your sweetheart also wants to do it. While you’re at it, decide together whether you want to write one wedding vow that you will both say, or whether you want to write individually.
  2. Answer some simple questions Yep, it’s homework time. Sit down in a quiet space with paper and pen and answer these questions. Even if you don’t think the answer will end up in your wedding vows, still take the time to write it down. It may help you in the long run. If you encounter writer’s block, first try taking a short break. If you’re still having trouble, try speaking the answers into a tape recorder, letting the thoughts flow freely.

    • What is the single greatest thing about the person you are going to marry?
    • When did you know that you were in love/ know that this person was the one you wanted to marry?
    • What does marriage mean to you? Why do you want to be a married person?
    • What is the most important thing you want to promise to your partner? What is the promise you most want to hear from them? (For example, it might be really important to you to promise that you will always respect them. Or you might really want them to promise their eternal fidelity.)
    • What will change about your relationship once you are married? What will stay the same?
    • What is your most favorite memory of your partner?
    • When you were little, did you dream of your wedding day or your future spouse? How does that vision match up (or not) with your sweetheart?

  3. Consult the experts Take some time to read through a variety ofwedding vows,as well as passages of poetry, love stories, and famous writing about love(these are suggested for wedding readings, but include many quotes you could use in your vows.)Print out your favorites, and highlight passages that especially speak to you.
  4. Put it all together Go back to the words you wrote before, and highlight passages that you might want to include in your wedding vows. Now is the time to pare things down – select the very best of all the material you have to work with. Try taking a sentence or two from literature, add a sentence or two from the answers to the above questions, and finish with a vow – a sentence that begins “I promise” or “I vow”. For example, you might say:

    “Mary, as the poet Rilke said, ‘This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love. The more they give, the more they possess.’ You are the most generous, loving, unselfish person I know. I fell in love with you the moment I first saw you with your daughter, treating her with such respect and giving her all of you. I feel so fortunate that you have chosen to share your love with me, and that I get to grow old next to you. Mary, today I choose you for my wife. I promise to love you, honor you, care for you, and be faithful to you, from this day forward and for the rest of our lives.”
  5. If that didn’t work Try filling in the blanks in a more simple vow.
    (Name of your sweetheart), you are my (best friend, one true love, the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, etc.) Today, I take you to be my (wife, husband, lawfully wedded wife or husband, life partner, etc.) I promise you that I will be (faithful, worthy of your trust, worthy of your love, your loving partner, etc.) I vow to (honor you, cherish you, love you, respect you, laugh with you, cry with you, support you in your goals, etc.), (insert here the length of your vow, for example, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.)
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice First, try reading what you’ve written out loud to a trusted friend or family member. Ideally, this person will be someone who is a good writer, and someone who knows your relationship. They may have good suggestions for you, or the simple act of reading it out loud might help you identify places where you can improve. Once you’ve worked out a final version, practice reading it on your own to make sure you are comfortable with it. If you can, try to memorize it. But whether or not you memorize well, make sure that you write down your wedding vows on a note card (and give an extra copy to the best man or maid of honor!) so that nerves won’t spoil all of your hard work.
Written by Nina Callaway
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