Often when I mention, casually, to my beautiful couples that I’d like them to write their own wedding vows, I’m met with looks of surprise – or dare I say horror! Not everyone looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights at this point, but within this article I’m going to try and unpick the issues of writing your own vows, so my brides and grooms can approach the task with ease, even dare I hope positive pleasure.
Having written on the subject, it seemed churlish not to share, so whether you’re using me as your celebrant or have found this by chance, enjoy……
Point 1; “Hang on, you’re the celebrant, we’re paying you to write the ceremony – you write the vows!”.
Well I could, of course. However, one of the reasons you may find writing your own promises a strange idea is that we’ve got used to hearing everyone say the same vows, the ones the state tells us to say. You’ll be saying them in your legal marriage, with the registrar. Use this opportunity to make the promises you want to make. Wouldn’t it be more real, more personal, if the one part of the ceremony that this is all about, the promises you’re making to each other, were purely yours, written by you for each other?
Point 2; “but what if they’re not good enough?”
Good enough for whom? These are your vows. If you’re silly in each other’s company, make them silly. If you have long conversations deep into the night about what you feel to each other, get the most significant parts on paper. No-one is going to judge you on this of all days.
Point 3; “what if his/hers are longer, better than mine?”
You can agree on a maximum and minimum length before you start, and as for “better”, see point 2; if you’re good enough for each other, your vows will be perfect.
Let’s have a look at a few ideas to help you on your way.
Decide whether you’ll write your vows together or separately.
Writing your vows separately, as a surprise is fabulous on the day. It’s preparing the most personal gift you can imagine. Agree a maximum and minimum word count first. No-one wants their vows drowned by the impatient shifting of family and friends’ bottoms as they try and get more comfortable after half-an hour of promises!
If you’re writing them separately
Agree a format. For example, three “I love you becauses” and five “I promise tos” (including serious and light hearted). Both end with the same line e.g. “Thank you for marrying me”, or “I love you today, I will love you forever”.
Or, have two or three traditional “I do” style vows (which I can send you, or you can Google!), followed by your own ones.
I always suggest that you send me your promises to look at before the day. This is not just because I’m a control freak. I can include them in the presentation script, and print onto card so we all know we’ve got them there! I can check that they’re reasonably balanced for style and content as well. I’ll never forget the groom who wrote;
“I love your hair, your smile, your caring personality and your big arse.”
I persuaded him to change it to “your generous, perfectly shaped arse.” Given that they were both very athletic, the latter was truer in any case. As for what he wrote about “putting her in a home” after they’d grown old together…..
So, maybe it’s a good thing to run them by the “celebrant police” before you go live!
There’s nothing wrong with writing your vows together, if you prefer. You’re pledging yourselves to a lifetime of partnership, after all, you should be capable of putting a few promises together! You can still send them to me first, and I’ll make suggestions if you’d like me to, and will certainly, again, ensure we have copies on the day!
How will they be presented?
Having said I’ll print them out for you, are you confident of reading your own vows from a card, or would you like to repeat them as phrases after I’ve read them?
You could even write them in the “I do” format if you prefer. (In either case I’d let it be known you wrote them!)
Of course, if you’d like to learn your vows and say them from memory, that’s great, but I suggest you give me a copy in case you need prompting on the day. One couple did just this. They’re very keen members of two drama societies and were determined to learn their vows. However, on the day, “word perfect” was a bit too much to ask. They only needed the tiniest prompts, and the effect of seeing them repeat their promises whilst looking only into each other’s eyes was electrifying.
It would be a shame to go to all this effort, and only be heard by your beloved. If it’s important to you, I’ve got my own PA system, so there won’t be a problem ensuring your voices reach the back row. However, if you find this intimidating, it really doesn’t matter if only you and the front row can hear; think about putting up a copy of the promises for all to read during the reception.
But, WHAT will we write??
Often the delight is in the detail. Think of the little things you do which your partner appreciates you for. How does that symbolise your relationship? There was the couple who had a standing joke about his beloved’s clumsiness and wrote;
I promise that whenever you experience sneak attacks from those dreaded lamp posts, that are so prone to be stood in your way, I will be there to offer you words of comfort and a rejuvenating cup of tea and slice of malt loaf.
One of her vows was
I promise when we say ‘hello’ after work, that I’ll hug you like we’ve been apart for a thousand years. I promise when I’m silent, I’m thinking: “please, stay forever” and contemplating the mystical power that placed me so carefully your arms, because surely it isn’t by chance.
Yeah, I know! Not a dry eye in the house!
Also, what could you promise to do in the future to make life even better? The same man as above wrote;
I will share your dreams with you and do everything in my power to help and support you to achieve everything and anything that you want, including getting you that puppy you’re always asking me about!
Guess what? They not only now have a golden retriever, they also have a baby!
If all else fails
Have a look on my Wedding Ceremony Page, I’ve peppered it with real vows. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration….
Above all, this is your wedding day, a day to look forward to with pleasure not trepidation a day for you to remember with delight. If you’re really stuck with this, I can write the vows with you. They will be personal to you and will strike chords with all who witness you say them.