Writing your own vows? Good for you! It’s a beautiful way to make your ceremony personal and special. Freaking out? That’s totally normal. Even artsy writey types get nervous about writing their own vows. How do you sum up your love for someone with just words?
But millions of people have done it well, and you can too. Here are a few pointers.
Start writing early.
Or at least start jotting down ideas or phrases you like. Your brain won’t necessarily hand you everything at once. Give yourself time to let the best words come to you gradually.
Remember that no one is judging you.
This isn’t an exam, and you will be in front of the most on-your-side crowd you’ve ever encountered in your life. You don’t have to impress anybody. As long as you don’t divert into politics or meat processing, they’re almost guaranteed to love what you say.
Write as a team.
Check in with each other to make sure your vows match in length and sentiment. No one wants to follow free-verse love poetry with “Love ya, babe!” The two of you can write one piece for you both, or you can each do your own. Just make sure you’re on the same page.
Write from the heart.
Your wedding is one of the few times in your life when you can be completely and unashamedly emotional in public. And people will love it. If you have something that you’ve been dying to say to your groom but it always seemed too goopy, now is the time.
I was just kidding about the free-verse poetry. Mentioning a significant moment is great, but if people want to know the blow-by-blow history of your dating, you can tell them later. Keep it sweet and keep it just a couple of minutes long, max.
If you’re stuck, use the Big Three.
You really only need to hit three major points in your vows. (Actually, you technically only need the third one. But the first two are nice to get in there.)
1. I love you.
2. This is how you have made my life better.
3. This is how I will cherish you for the rest of our lives.
That word “cherish” is an important one. You don’t have to use it. Just the two major concepts it covers. You’re telling your groom (and the world) that you will both appreciate and take care of him. Pretty nice, huh?
Put these into your own words and you’re pretty much golden.
Check in with your officiant.
It’s a good idea to run your vows by your officiant to make sure he or she thinks they are appropriate for your ceremony. He or she will also probably have some good advice, or at least a jumping-off point if you’re stuck.
Say your vows out loud before the rehearsal dinner.
Say ‘em a few times. If they don’t sound natural, you can adjust.
The more comfortable you are with your vows, the better. If you’ve said them a lot, you’ll say them easily.
Even if you’ve practiced your vows a lot, it’s good to have a safety net. Write them down on index cards, just in case. You can tuck the cards into your bouquet or ask your maid of honor to hold them. You’re way less likely to be nervous about remembering them if you know you have backup.
Look at your groom.
Remember that guy? He’s pretty great and you get to say it out loud. How fantastic is that?
Now go on and say it.