True, sincere love can be a hard emotion to articulate. On your big day you’ll be expected to recite heartfelt wedding vows to your partner, and this is a challenge for many people – both the writing process, as well as the recitation. If you’re trying to check off the “write vows” box on your comprehensive wedding planning checklist so you can move onto other (less stressful) things, we’ve got you covered. Here is an easy 10-step process for you to write and eventually nail your wedding vows when the moment comes.
1. Get Things Started Early
If you wait until the night before your wedding, you’ll be out of time to write vows that perfectly convey the full extent of your feelings. Instead, while you’re deep in planning mode the months leading up to your big day, reflect on the many experiences you and your fiancé/fiancée have shared over the years. Consider your hopes and dreams for the future, and how together you can overcome any obstacle in your way. Write down thoughts that stick out to you so that when it’s time to write, you’ll have ideas ready to go.
2. Jump Online for Examples
Whether you have been to dozens of weddings or your own will be your first experience with vows, a little research can go a long way. One of the most challenging aspects of the writing process is trying to understand what your finished work should sound like. Reading online examples of wedding vows will give you an idea about how to structure yours, plus you’ll get to enjoy the many ways people have expressed their commitment to each other over the years. A beautiful and educational experience.
3. Coordinate With Your Partner
It’s possible that your research could lead to ideas that are unpopular with your future spouse. Remember – communication is key. Many couples choose complicated analogies that rely on inside jokes or unusual promises that are intended to be cute and funny. If this appeals to you, make sure you are not alone. You can expect a cold reception if you write vows mimicking the verse of Dr. Seuss while your partner speaks from the heart.
While you are checking on the tone of your vows, coordinate on other issues as well. For example, will you write your vows together or independently? Will you share them in advance or wait until your wedding day? What is the target length of time each of you will speak?
4. Talk to Your Officiant
Your officiant is a great resource for wedding-day advice, so be sure to ask them any pressing questions you may have! Many of them have horror stories about times where they had no idea the couples had written their own vows until well into the ceremony. Make sure to discuss your plans with them well in advance of your big day.
5. Don’t Start With a Blank Page
Staring at a fresh sheet of paper or a blank computer screen is sure to give you writer’s block. The pressure of that blank page makes it impossible for many of us to get started. Before you write a single word, start the process by writing out a poem or verse that resonates with you (or reminds you of your relationship). By the time you finish, you might decide to delete this entire section, but it’s still a great way to get your creative juices flowing. If you don’t have any romantic poems memorized, there are a number of excellent online resources to help.
When in doubt, count on the classics. Things like E. E. Cummings’ “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)” are great sources of inspiration.
6. Jot Down Notes
Open up a Google Doc, grab your phone, or pull out your favorite pen and notebook and begin writing. Before (or throughout the process), consider the following questions:
- How did you meet?
- What was your first date like?
- When did you know s/he was “the one”?
- What does s/he do that inspires you?
- Do you have any goals you’d like to achieve together?
- What do you miss about him/her when you are apart?
- How has your life changed since you became a couple?
Think of this as a brainstorm session. Get some tangible things down on paper, and you’ll be in much better shape to organize your ideas into something usable.
7. Consider the Biggest Commitments
To “vow” is to swear or commit completely to something; in this case, committing yourself to a lifelong relationship your partner. As a lover, as a friend, as a faithful spouse – your wedding vows should provide the verbal foundation for your future together. Consider which commitments are most important to you, and which ones you want to say out loud in the presence of your dear friends and family.
A famous example of this is to “support each other in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do you part.”
8. Write Draft #1
Now that you aren’t facing a blank sheet — you have your poem, brainstorming notes and basic promises on the page already — it is time to write your first draft. Don’t overthink this. Free-write whatever comes to mind, and worry about structure and edits later. You will end up with lots of raw material that you can tweak into meaningful vows.
9. Take the Editing Process Slowly
Once you’ve poured your heart out on the page, set your work aside for a day or two. Go take some photos with your partner, think of some fun names for your wedding cocktails, relax a bit. When you come back to make edits, you will be in a more objective state of mind. This frees you up to remove extraneous anecdotes and move everything into place, creating a smooth-flowing speech that you’ll remember for the rest of your life (for the right reasons, of course).
10. Run Dress Rehearsals
After you’ve finish editing, the final step is to practice, practice, and practice some more. Recite your vows to yourself in the mirror, to your dog and to your best friend. Get comfortable with the words so they roll off your tongue when it’s time to speak them at your wedding.
Do you have any tips for our soon-to-be brides and grooms on how to write their wedding vows? Or do you have any other tips or suggestions to contribute? We’d love to hear them all! And don’t forget that our Facebook and Pinterest pages are frequently updated and both great resources if you’re looking for bonus wedding inspo. Happy planning!