I have been very quiet of late, haven’t I? So unlike me. Well, I’ve been knee deep in love at weddings, weddings and more weddings. And since I’ve been at so many weddings of late, I thought I’d share with you some secrets that I have uncovered. Have missed you guys!
I am so lucky. I get to hear the most amazing vows, all of the time. Funny, tear-inducing, heartfelt, authentically beautiful vows, just like some of the ones I’ve heard in recent weeks.
Because I work with so many couples who write their own vows, I’ve picked up on a common thing that all these couples do. No, not drink copious amounts of wine, although I’m sure that can help and does play a big part in the process!
What all these couples have in common is that they ALL take the time to plan their vows. Yep, sorry guys, the secret is as boring as that! Planning! Fabulous vows do not just spill out of your mouth, they are born from simple, plain, straightforward, good old fashioned planning! Sorry to disappoint you if you thought there was going to be a magic formula here!
So what does this mean to plan your vows?
However you want your vows to be, whatever style, format and tone, before you start anything you need a plan and you need to put some structure in place. Vows can happen naturally, organically and even randomly but this is only usually once you have planned what you’re going to do.
So let’s start at the beginning.
Whether you are writing your vows separately or together, you need to work out what type of personal vows you will be saying to each other. And in order to do that, you need to know what the different types of vow structures are. In short, there are three main types of vow structures, all with variations, so read about them here for a more detailed understanding of them all.
Most couples usually agree on doing the same vow type, so that both sets of vows have a similar style and flow, but some couples are happy to have a freestyle approach and basically say ‘write what the hell you want and we’ll check out the goods during the ceremony.’ An approach I dig, as well. Especially for couples who don’t want to be restricted by a format and want simply to speak from the heart.
Once you’ve sorted that out, which trust me, is easier said than done, you then need to plan what you are going to say.
If I was only allowed to give one piece of advice to couples about their vows, it would be to ‘be yourself.’ Thankfully, I am not restricted to one piece of advice, but my point is, of all the wise words out there about vows, this would be my number one.
Don’t say vows which don’t sound like you, or use language which you wouldn’t usually use. When you say your vows to your love bunny, they should sound like you have really written them, so that your love bunny recognises you from what you are saying. Does that make sense? Nobody wants to get the feeling that their love bunny’s vows have been copied from someone else’s or that they swallowed a dictionary for fun.
Let’s use an example, to make it all a little clearer. Of the three main types of vows, my favourite is probably the stupidly named ‘mixed pledge and qualities vow.’ For me this vow is the most flexible vow and gives great scope for saying all that needs to be said, because a) it gives you the room to talk about your love bunny and explain why you love him and her and how they make you feel (his or her qualities) and b) you can then make some pledges and promises to round off the vow and make it complete.
We do not get to tell our love bunnies what they mean to us enough (well, I certainly don’t for sure), so being able to do so during your wedding vows makes for a fabulous opportunity.
So, here are some MPQ vows which I have written as an example of their flexibility.
My darling love bunny, I am so excited and beyond proud today to become your wife and in return I get to call you my husband. You are the most kindest, funniest, hard-working person I have ever known. I love that you make me a cup of tea every morning without fail, which makes up for leaving your socks and pants by the laundry basket, instead of in it. You are the best dad to our son and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life. There is not anything you wouldn’t do for me, nor I for you.
I promise to always have your back and support all of your dreams and hobbies, even your banjo playing.
I promise to respect your thoughts, even when I wholeheartedly disagree with them and to remember that although we mostly think alike, there are times we think so differently too.
I promise to love you, to honour and cherish you and to give you a back rub when you demand it, for all of our days together, from this day forward.
I seriously just wrote that of the top of my head! These are based on what I would say to my husband if we were getting married now, with our son in tow. When I re-read these vows, I can hear myself in them. I do not take life too seriously, and I love to laugh and joke around and take the piss out of my husband, a lot. So I’m glad my made-up vows reflect that. If my husband were to read these, he would not expect anything else from me!
So another good tip, is to write a first draft in one go, if you can. Let your thoughts reel off and then you have something in place to come back to, play around with and make changes to. I would even suggest leaving the first draft for a while, a day or two, and then go back to it, with fresh eyes.
It really is the most rewarding thing, writing personal vows. Part of the magic isn’t just what you say, but how you plan and prepare for your vows. If you get the foundations right, the rest of it will follow naturally and as organically a possible. I promise.