Friday, February 24th, 2012 by Faye

Writing Your Own Vows

For many couples, reciting the same wedding vows that millions of other couples have recited over time is a wonderfully comforting tradition. For others, traditional vows are stifling and not representative of their relationship at all; such couples may choose to write their own vows.

Original vows add a personal touch to the ceremony, and are especially popular with same-sex couples and at secular ceremonies. Many couples choose to edit traditional vows and some choose to remove “sexist” language or religious references.  Whatever your reasons for writing your own vows, the process can be difficult and knowing exactly what to include can be a bit elusive. But fear not, lovely couples! We’ve got writing tips and style guidelines to help you along the way!

General tips

  • Keep it short and sweet, between 150 and 300 words.
  • Use proper, but not overly formal, language. This is not the time to use slang, and unless you are an Oxford English professor, stuffy formal language just doesn’t sound natural.
  • Be simple, direct, and honest when writing your vows, and write with your voice. You aren’t Jane Austen or Mark Twain, and you shouldn’t try to mimic another author’s style while writing your vows.
  • Keep a thesaurus (or the world wide web ☺) handy.
  • Have a trusted, literary-minded friend edit your vows for mistakes and style errors.
  • Make sure your officiant is comfortable with the vows you would like to say.

Remember the basic structure
Wedding vows represent an eternal pact with three essential features: a declaration of love, promises for the future, and personal touches and/or sentiments. You can highlight each section by emphasizing different aspects of your relationship, such as family, trust, fidelity, places of importance, feelings, and shared experiences. Try to think of your soon-to-be while composing each section; what aspects are most important to him and you as a couple? Of course, the list above (family, trust, fidelity…) is not complete, but it’s enough to get you started!

Shared vows or separate vows?
Do you want to write your vows together and both recite the same vows? Do you want to follow the same general structure, but personalize the details? Or do you simply want to set a word limit and let both you and your groom take it from there?

Same vows
If you are writing your vows as a couple, combine all solo brainstorming ideas and look for similarities. Did you both focus on a particular theme, or use a similar quote? If yes, use that as your focal point and go from there. Remember, there are no bad ideas, don’t bully your partner (or get bullied) into accepting an idea, and be yourselves!

Separate vows
If you are writing separate vows consider having each person start and end with the same two lines, like “I promise...” and “Thank you…”, then personalize the sections in the middle.

Writers block?
Don’t get stuck on what you think your vows should sound like. Write a haiku, a sonnet, a rap song, or a slow jam. Just write! You are getting married and your vows should sound like you, plain and simple.