Vows are one of the most anticipated traditions during a wedding ceremony. It’s an opportunity to shout your love for your soon-to-be-spouse from the rafters and make foundational promises to one another that your marriage will be built upon. Vows vary from person to person and relationship to relationship. Sometimes engaged couples will choose to say pre-written or religious vows, and other times, the words come straight from the heart and mouth of the groom to be.
When you think about writing your own vows, anxiety can set in. Maybe you’re not confident in your ability to wordsmith, or feel uncomfortable with public displays of affection. Either way, we have plenty of tips that will make writing and saying your vows the easiest part of your wedding day. You don’t have to give a long, drawn out speech or feign seriousness if it isn’t who you are at your core. Ultimately, your vows are between you and your spouse, even if hundreds of people are watching.
Whether you’re planning on writing vows on your own or finding another option, we’re here to help! Read on to find out how to make your wedding vows memorable, sentimental, and stress-free.
If you dread public speaking, you might already be cursing the name of whoever invented this spoken tradition. Like many wedding traditions, vows date back to Medieval times. The first spoken wedding pleasantries actually started in the 1500s as a book of vows that couples could use verbatim. Some of these vows are even used by modern couples today!
A wedding vow is a sacred promise. It’s a covenant that you declare publicly in front of all of those you love and care about the most. It’s what makes a wedding, well, a wedding. While it’s lovely to express your feelings for someone in your vows, a vow goes far beyond emotion. It is intended to come from the deepest and most selfless part of your soul, and it’s these promises that you’ll return to on the easy and hard days of your marriage.
Having a conversation with your fiancè about what each of your vows will look like is essential. You don’t (and shouldn’t!) share everything you’re going to say, but you should at least be aligned on a few different aspects of your vows.
The Length: There’s no need to stick to a set word count for your vows, but you’ll want to be sure they’re around the same length. It would be exceedingly awkward if you read a short poem when your spouse talked for 5 minutes about how wonderful you are. (Although we’re sure you really are wonderful)
The Format: Maybe you and your fiancé love poetry, singing, or stand up comedy. If you have an out-of-the-box idea for your vows, more power to you! But discussing your plans so you can remain on the same page is a good idea. If one of you has playful vows and the other serious, that’s fine, but don’t blindside your fiancé in the name of a surprise. It can lead to hurt feelings and shattered expectations on the big day.
Memorization: Some couples find it essential to commit their vows to memory as it doesn’t fade from the mind the moment after the wedding is held. Other couples read off of a piece of paper or notecards. If you don’t choose to memorize your speeches, there are plenty of wonderful ways to memorialize your words. Printing your vows and framing them or handwriting them for safekeeping is a great way to remind yourself of what you’ve committed to. Pull them out once a year to remind each other why you got hitched in the first place.
Not to sound like your high school English teacher, but creating an outline before you begin writing is the best way to ensure your vows will be outstanding. By mapping out the direction your words will take you, you’ll be able to see the big picture before jumping in headfirst. An outline should generally consist of the following sections:
An Intro: Introductions are a great way to hook your audience. While you can probably count on your wedding guests focusing on your vows regardless of how entertaining they are, a solid intro is what really gets the crowd hooked on your sentiments. An intro can consist of light joking, a story about the first time you met your S/O, or an acknowledgement of the presence of your loving friends and family. Whatever it is, just make sure it tees you up for the rest of the speech.
The Middle: This is the section that will require the most brainstorming. The good news? You have more creative freedom than in any other section of your vows. This is where you can choose the mood of your written words; Sentimental, funny, anecdotal, or sweet. Start by forming a list of bullet points and jotting down anything that comes to mind. When you’re done, you’ll be able to find patterns in your words and form a story or declaration of love.
The Conclusion: While it can be short, the end of your vows are the most important part of the whole speech. Even if you trip up in the middle, the conclusion of your vows has the potential to make any mistakes meaningless. Lauren Levine, writer from herway.net, suggests making the final sentence in your vows be one last promise to your partner, “ it should be the promise you find the most important, and one that will wrap your speech up in a lovely bow.”
We’re our own worst critics. That said, sometimes we can be blind to the good and bad parts of our own writing. Once you’ve exhausted all possible edits, reach out to a friend or family member to give your vows a once-over. There’s a good chance that someone with fresh eyes will be more equipped than you to catch grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or pacing issues. If you want your vows to be a total surprise, you can find a professional editor on websites like UpWork or Fiverr who will be able to give edits from a totally unbiased perspective.
You might tell an editor to provide suggestions for your consideration that are more significant, like sentence structure and verbiage. You can also encourage them to only provide essential edits for grammar and spelling. Even if your vows are not perfect, what makes them special is that they came from your heart. Don’t feel discouraged or pressured to change your vows if you’re not spitting bars like Shakespeare.
The old adage is true. Practice really does make perfect. It might feel awkward, but saying your vows in the mirror can be a great way to get comfortable with the words coming out of your mouth. Seeing your reflection while you’re speaking can help you be more conscious of your poster, hand movements, and expressions. Believe it or not, it is harder than you’d think to look relaxed and confident while pouring your heart out. Concentration and nervousness can make your shoulders tense up or cause you to fidget. Plus, smiling through nerves sometimes has to be a conscious effort.
Once you’re done practicing in the mirror, if you’re comfortable, you can say your vows to a friend or family member for feedback. If you’d prefer to keep your intimate writing under wraps, though, that’s fine too. Even if you deliver your vows as a sweaty and anxious wreck, your husband won’t see it that way. They’ll see someone who is channeling their vulnerability on the most special day of your shared life together. And natural emotion is what weddings are all about!
When it comes to any wedding, big or small, something will inevitably go wrong throughout the reception or ceremony, whether it’s the flower arrangements, catering, venue, or your vows. Tiny missteps are only natural when planning such a complex and exciting event. That being said, don’t stress too much over your vows being absolutely perfect.
Authenticity is refreshing and real, and your day is way bigger than a few minutes of vows. If you choke up or lose your words, let go of the slip-up and enjoy the rest of your special day. After all, weddings don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
If you and your spouse both aren’t into the idea of writing your own vows, there are a myriad of pre-written options out there. Here are a few resources for the soft at heart and soft-spoken:
You’re now equipped to write the best vows possible. Don’t forget to have fun, speak from the heart, and remember what your special day is truly supposed to be about.