Whenever someone mentions writing your own vows, most people (especially guys) suddenly get clammy hands and a rapid pulse. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using the standard vows that your officiant provides or that you find in a book, but your wedding is one of the most personal forms of expression in which you will partake in your life, and writing your own vows would make it even more personal and memorable for both of you. Plus, writing your own vows isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems. You just have to get over the initial fear and follow these five simple steps.
1. You’re not Shakespeare … and that’s perfectly fine (in fact, it’s great)
Most people assume that if they can’t write something profound and poetic, that they’re better off using the words of someone who is. This is just plain poppycock (or baloney, whichever is more your style). This is your day, and anything that you can do to put your stamp on it makes it even more personable, fun and memorable. So what if you can’t rhyme well or if you can’t write in iambic pentameter … most people will daydream through that poetic stuff anyways. But they will remember something that sounds like you and is in your words, regardless of how poetic they sound.
2. “Take you” phrase
So that you don’t stare at a blank page or screen for an hour, begin by writing out a first line that says something to the effect that you take _________ to be your wife/husband. This is a simple line, but it gets the ball rolling and is essential in that you are vowing to have them as your wedded spouse.
3. Include these basic themes
There are a few fundamental themes when writing a vow. First of all, this is a “vow,” which means you are making a promise to your fiancee or fiance. So there are a few important things that you need to promise when you are committing yourselves to each other for life.
Caring/loving – A marriage is (or should be) a safe haven, so promising to love your spouse through all circumstances and always trying to be caring and understanding is a must to include.
Honesty and faithfulness – The foundation of every successful marriage is rooted in being honest and faithful to each other, and this is not only a promise you should make in your vow but one that should be the anchor of your relationship for eternity.
Giving/generosity – This is the person who you will walk through fire for, and you should include this in your vow to let them know that any goals they have, any challenges they may face, you will be there to help them in any and every way you can (because you would also want the same kind of support from them).
Change and constancy – This is the “thick and thin, sickness and health” theme. Your individual lives and the world around you will continue to change over time, but it’s your marriage that will ground you and is the constant in life that will keep your feet on the ground as life revolves and churns around you both.
Growth – This is an extension of the change theme, but it points to how each of you will grow in all sorts of directions. You will change jobs, make new friendships, possibly have children and raise them. There’s lots of personal growth here, and you may want to include in your vow something about looking forward to growing with each other and encouraging such growth in each other.
4. Mention the attributes of your spouse that you admire
You fell in love with your fiance/fiancee because of certain things about them that you adored or admired, and you should include these traits in your vow. And don’t worry if they sound insignificant or even a little risque, because they were and are important to you and they are the things about them that you either admire (their kindness, selflessness, integrity, openness, etc.) or that attract you to them (their penetrating eyes, long, flowing hair, etc.). Mentioning these makes your vow much more personal and heartfelt.
5. Tie in the ring
Finally, try and tie in how the ring is a symbol of your commitment and will stand for you as a constant reminder of your vows to your fiance/fiancee. This brings it back around to the rings, which is what you will exchange when the vow is finished.
There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? It still may take you an afternoon to flesh out a few drafts and get your vows to a place where you are comfortable reading it (and I would encourage you to read it aloud to see if there are any rough spots or tongue twisters you have created). And you should also practice it before your big day. You don’t have to memorize your vows (I wrote my own vows and read them from a sheet of paper), but you certainly shouldn’t stumble through them as if it’s the first time you’ve seen them in months. Now go to your computer and start writing.
About the Author – Jeff Kear is a writer and owner of My Wedding Workbook, the online wedding planner for engaged couples that’s easy-to-use, comprehensive and helps them manage all their wedding events (and its basic wedding software tools are free). He’s also the owner of My Wedding Workbook Pro, wedding planner software for professional wedding consultants.