If you’re looking to put a personal stamp on your wedding vows, here are the steps to take when writing them
Writing your own wedding vows is no mean feat. When you’re making the ultimate commitment to your fiancé you’d think that the words would flow naturally – and in some cases, they do – but for most, it can prove frustrating to communicate your thoughts clearly and concisely.
On top of that, the thought of baring your soul to all your friends and family can be a daunting prospect, but find the right words in advance of the big day and rest assured your nerves will be kept at bay.
To help you through the process, here are seven invaluable tips to prevent writer’s block and make your exchanging of vows as personal as possible.
1. Speak to your partner
First and foremost, agree a format and length of time with your partner so that you match each other on tone and duration (1-2 minutes is sufficient). Decide whether you want to incorporate jokes or short anecdotes or whether you feel more comfortable with a more poetic or religious undertone for a church ceremony. A good place to start is the traditional vows practised by your faith, which you can then adapt to meet your desired style. For a civil ceremony, your vows can be adapted from the wording set out by your local registration service.
2. Find your quiet place
Ensure there are no distractions around you when writing your wedding vows. You will want to be focused on the matter at hand, so do it at a time of day when you’re feeling fresh and ready to put pen to paper.
3. Seek inspiration
The expanse of online content available to you means that there is a wealth of inspiration at your fingertips. Take a look at other couples’ wedding vows, as well as looking at books, films, songs and poems for snippets and sentences that strike a chord with you as a couple. Exchanging vows is all about you and your partner so ensure the words are as personal and heartfelt as can be. Remember, plagiarism is frowned upon.
4. Think about the things you love
What do you love about your partner? What did you think when you first saw him/her? What makes your heart skip a beat after all these years? Jot down your most intimate feelings and speak (and write) from the heart.
5. Consider your promises
They are called vows for a reason, so choose a couple of promises that mean the most to you. Faithfulness, respect and honour are all key vows – and a promise 'to love’ goes without saying.
6. Structure your vows
When you have gathered all your notes and ideas, think about the structure of the vows. Speechwriting expert Robert Lehrman suggests a four-part outline: Affirm your love, praise your partner, offer promises and close with a final vow.
7. Practice makes perfect
While couples tend to read their personal vows from a note card during the ceremony, it is still essential that you should practise reading your vows out loud so that you are completely confident when in the moment. Project your voice and speak naturally, reminding yourself to make eye contact with your partner at particular points during the reading.
Come the big day there is nothing left to do than read your vows with confidence and sincerity. In that moment alone, it is just the two of you pledging your commitment to one another for the rest of your lives, so savour it… and if the tears come, have a tissue at the ready.