Tips for writing your wedding vows…
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
If you have decided to write your own wedding vows, then huge respect to you! I am always delighted (and impressed) when a couple say they would like to do this, as the wedding vows really are the most important and meaningful part of the ceremony. It’s the moment you make your personal promises to one another, and to your marriage, and should be as individual as you are.
Many civil marriage vows are adapted from the traditional vows, taken from the Book of Common Prayer:
To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.
In your legal ceremony, it’s highly likely you will recite a variation of this, and you might have the option to add your own personal vow after it if you wish to. But of course if you choose to have a celebrant ceremony, your vows can be whatever you want them to be!
You might ask your celebrant to write a series of personalised vows, which you can either repeat or respond to. If you are worried about feeling too emotional or nervous to speak from the heart in front of an audience, then this is definitely the way to go. An example from one of my recent ceremonies:
I ask you David, you have chosen to take Claire as your wife, do you promise to love her, be faithful to her, and do everything you can to support her on your journey through life together?
Do you promise to trust and treasure her, in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard?
And lastly, do you promise to ensure that you always make time for each other and have fun together?
But the truly brave among you should consider taking the opportunity to write your own vows, which you can say after, or instead of, the celebrant-led vows. It might seem daunting at first, but I have a few tips which should ease you into what will be the highlight of your ceremony!
Agree with your other half the scope of your vows – ideally they should complement each other, be roughly the same length, and you might want them in a similar style. If you want to keep the vows completely secret from one another, your celebrant can help with this, by liaising with you individually to check you are both on the same page!
Take your time writing them – jot down ideas and thoughts over a period of time, putting them aside, and then coming back to them. You can use the internet for inspiration if you want to, or look to your favourite poetry, books, music and films. Feel free to use or paraphrase great lines and quotes, but try to avoid clichés and the obvious. My advice is not to rush it – starting is the hardest part and having time to think, write, reflect, refine will benefit the process.
Don’t aim to create the most amazing piece of prose. Less is usually more, and the goal is a heartfelt personal pledge, rather a Jane Austen masterpiece. Be simple, sincere and smart with your word choices, and you can’t go wrong.
Save any cute anecdotes for the wedding speeches – or for inclusion by your celebrant in the main body of the ceremony. Your wedding vows should focus on two key elements - what you love most about your partner and what you're going to do to keep your marriage solid.
You can include promises which are broad:
I promise to laugh with you, cry with you, and grow with you. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart. I promise to support your dreams and to respect our differences, and to love you and be by your side through all the days and nights of our lives…
And promises which are specific and/or humorous:
I promise I'll always let you watch Peaky Blinders even 'though I hate it…
Practise reading your vows. Aloud - to yourself, or a good friend, or your celebrant. You need to hear that the words flow, sound sincere, heartfelt and most importantly, like you. If you stumble over the same word or phrase, change it up. And don’t be afraid to ask your celebrant for help if you need it.
Time-wise – a minute or two is ideal. Read aloud for two minutes – and you’ll discover it’s a bit longer than you think! If you feel you need more time and words to express your promises, you can always jot them down in a love-letter to give to your beloved on the day.
Think about what you will read your vows from – mounted on a piece of card is better than a piece of paper, printed in a large clear font is probably better than hand-written – and a copy given to your celebrant *just in case* is definitely a good idea!
Don’t try to memorise your vows – being familiar with them so you can take your eyes off the paper is ideal, but if you try to remember them word for word on an emotionally charged day, there is always the chance something might go wrong.
When it comes to the reading of your vows, take your time. Don’t rush, remember to breathe and pause, to look at your other half, to speak so everyone can hear you – and if you have a funny line, allow time for folk to laugh before you continue. And enjoy every moment!
So if you’re currently writing your vows, I hope I have helped you a little with the process. And if you need a bit more support, feel free to drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you.